Lightweight struggles continue as Rutgers falls in Iowa

The Rutgers wrestling team has had a jam-packed schedule to start the new year. The No. 20 Scarlet Knights (7-4, 1-2) have faced four straight ranked teams to open up the 2019 half of the season.

Rutgers’ only win in January was an upset victory over then-No. 10 Wisconsin, a match that was decided on criteria.

Recently, the Knights faltered in Iowa last Friday, dropping a lackluster 30-6 match against the undefeated No. 4 Hawkeyes (8-0, 3-0). Rutgers managed two individual wins from No. 2 graduate student 149-pounder Anthony Ashnault and sophomore 174-pounder Joseph Grello. 

Here are several takeaways from the Knights’ last trip up to Iowa City, Iowa:

Ashnault success

The three-time All-American has been a consistent bright spot for Rutgers this season. He has put together 15 wins in his bouts and has shown no signs of losing his unbroken streak. Ashnault earned his 15th victory of the season with a 3-1 decision over Iowa’s No. 12 Pat Lugo. That bout was the South Plainfield, N.J. native’s fifth defeat of a ranked opponent this season. His 54 dual points and six falls are a team best. 

Keep an eye on Ashnault’s performance as he is poised to make a deep run in both the Big Ten and NCAA Championships come March. 

Lightweight struggles

The Knights have been inconsistent especially from their lighter weight class wrestlers. This showed against the Hawkeyes, as no lightweight wrestlers for Rutgers earned a win.

The first spot in the starting lineup can set the tone for a match and shift momentum early. Sophomore 125-pounder Shane Metzler assumed the starting spot, after No. 3 junior 133-pounder Nick Suriano moved up to his new weight class. 

Metzler, who last won a bout against Hofstra’s Dylan Ryder in November, did not wrestle against Iowa. Freshman 125-pounder Nick Denora wrestled into the starting lineup, but was pinned 38 seconds into the opening match, by No. 2 Spencer Lee. 

Since losing a tough seven-round bout to then-No. 3 Oklahoma State’s Dayton Fix 3-2, Suriano has not come away with a victory in his last two appearances. He lost a close 6-4 bout to Iowa’s No. 8 Austin DeSanto. DeSanto was Suriano’s second straight top-10 ranked opponent. 

Suriano took a 3-0 lead preceding a quiet first round after he was awarded points for an escape against his opponent. DeSanto started the third period with an escape. Suriano was later hit with two consecutive stalling calls that eventually tied up the match. 

The Hawkeyes’ 133-pounder showed why he was ranked in the top 10 when he earned a takedown to seal victory against Suriano, who dropped his second straight match. His record currently stands at 14-2 on the season. 

For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow @TargumSports and @SchmiedJake on Twitter.

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