6 individuals secure wins, as Rutgers captures 2nd Big Ten win of season

Prior to facing Michigan State last Friday evening, the Rutgers wrestling team had suffered a two-match losing streak against tough competition in No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Iowa. 

In those two matches, the No. 18 Scarlet Knights (8-4, 2-2) lost by a 20-plus point margin. But, this past weekend, head coach Scott Goodale’s crew managed to hang on to a 22-20 victory against the Spartans (5-6, 2-4) at a loud Rutgers Athletics Center (RAC).

Rutgers didn't start off its second win of 2019 on the right foot. After the match started at 197 pounds, Michigan State jumped onto a 11-3 lead, as sophomore 197-pounder Matthew Correnti was pinned by the Spartans' Brad Wilton in the first match of the night.

When junior heavyweight Christian Colucci defeated Michigan State's Christian Rebottaro 4-2, the momentum began to swing the Knights’ way, as they would go on to win the next 5 out of 7 matches. 

The last time Rutgers claimed six individual match wins was when it defeated Rider back in December, a historic match that solidified Goodale as the winningest head coach in the program’s history.

Here are three takeaways from the Knights’ 22-20 win against the Spartans:

Back to old ways

No. 5 junior 133-pounder Nick Suriano had previously lost his two matches to top-10 wrestlers in his weight class. Goodale was unsure if he was going to start Suriano because he didn’t participate in practice until last Thursday, just one day before the match against Michigan State.

If there were any doubts that the former 125-pound wrestler was going to lose confidence as the Big Ten regular season heats up, they were instantly shattered Friday evening. Suriano handily beat his opponent, the Spartans' Logan Griffin, in a 22-4 technical fall. The match was his third technical win of the season.

His record now sits at a comfortable 15-2, with six dual meets left before the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA Championships in March. Suriano can use the last regular season matches as practice to enhance his position for the postseason tournaments. 

Close battles

Rutgers’ second Big Ten win of the season was filled with several close matches in spite of both Suriano’s and No. 2 graduate student 149-pounder Anthony Ashnault’s technical fall wins. 

Junior 141-pounder Peter Lipari and Michigan State's Alex Hrisopoulos were tied at two through two periods. With almost 20 seconds remaining in the third period, Lipari nailed a reversal for his sixth win of the season. The match would tie the Knights with the Spartans at 11 into the intermission.

Ashnault earned his 17th straight victory of the season by handling Michigan State's Jaden Enriquez, 19-4. No. 14 graduate student 157-pounder John Van Brill won a tough 4-2 decision against the Spartans' Jake Tucker, who has an 8-9 record in dual matches.

Van Brill has wrestled hot and cold this season. He started the 2018-19 season with two wins, before dropping two matches. Prior to his recent win against Tucker, he lost to the Hawkeyes' No. 5 Kaleb Young in a tough 5-2 decision.

As Rutgers welcomes Nebraska Friday evening at the RAC, he will face a tough match against the Cornhuskers' No. 2 Tyler Berger, which can perhaps be noted as “the match of the day.”

Freshman 165-pounder Stephan Glasgow, who was on a three-match losing skid of his own, captured his first career conference dual match win by ousting Michigan State's Austin Hiles in a 7-4 decision.

Injury bug

Throughout the season, the injury bug has thinned the heavier-weight classes, particularly the 184-pound weight class.

No. 17 graduate student 184-pounder Nicholas Gravina went down in the Wisconsin match with an apparent knee injury. He had previously missed some of the first matches due to offseason shoulder surgery. 

With Gravina sidelined, junior 174-pounder Willie Scott has since moved up a weight to take Gravina’s place in the lineup. With one win under his belt at the new weight class, Scott commanded a lead against the Spartans’ No. 15 Cameron Caffey, courtesy of a takedown and a near fall in the opening period.

But Scott’s lead would be short-lived, as he was forced to make a medical forfeit after sustaining an elbow injury. 

The Knights are already thin at 184 pounds. Fifth-year senior 184-pounder Jordan Pagano has also been sidelined with an injury. 

Sophomore 174-pounder Anthony Olivieri will likely move up to 184 pounds, as injuries pile up for Rutgers. He started against the Badgers and could start against No. 11 Nebraska (9-3, 3-2) later this week. 

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

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