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Suriano looks toward future after avenging 2-match skid vs. Michigan State

No. 4 junior 133-pounder Nick Suriano had never lost back-to-back matches in his college career before he lost when the Rutgers wrestling team fell in Iowa on Jan. 18. Suriano, four-time New Jersey high school state champion from Bergen Catholic, didn’t drop a bout in all 159 matches that he wrestled in. 

In his freshman season at Penn State, he lost only two matches, one due to an injury forfeit that ended his season.

Fast forward to his first year on the Banks, his lone loss came to Iowa's Spencer Lee in the NCAA Championship match. So it’s safe to say, Suriano is not used to losing all that much, especially in consecutive matches. 

But that’s exactly what happened two weeks ago, when he lost back-to-back matches to Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix and to Iowa's Austin DeSanto. 

The match against Fix, whom Suriano had beaten before a few years back in FloWrestling’s “Who’s Number One?” Tournament, was filled with controversy. 

In front of a near sold-out crowd at the Rutgers Athletics Center (RAC), there were multiple stoppages due to replay review, many controversial calls and ultimately, Suriano lost on a questionable penalty. 

In overtime, he was called for hands to the face, resulting in 1 point awarded to Fix and the match ending, just like that. 

“I just think it turned into a show,” Suriano said. "I respect Daton. It’s all good, and it’s about competing."

"But I just think the way it went, the whole situation ... I don’t know if it was the hype or what, but it turned into a show. It turned into a fiasco."

Things didn’t get easier for Suriano in the coming days, as the No.18 Scarlet Knights (8-4, 2-2) matched up with the powerhouse then No. 4 Hawkeyes (10-0, 5-0) at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena. 

In that match, Suriano had another tough opponent. Then No. 7 DeSanto, a transfer from Drexel who Rutgers alumnus Scott DelVecchio defeated last year in the NCAA Tournament.

On paper, Suriano, then ranked No. 2 at 133 pounds, should have won the match. 

With the match tied at 4 with just 10 seconds to go, DeSanto shot in on a single leg at the edge of the mat. With just a second left, DeSanto completed the 2-point takedown in front of a raucous Iowa crowd to pull off the upset. 

So what will this teach Nick Suriano? Hopefully it will be a valuable building block to reflect on when heading into the Big Ten and NCAA tournament this season. 

Quite possibly, Suriano will see DeSanto again in the Big Ten tournament, and could just as well see Fix again in the NCAA tournament depending on the seeding. 

It’s very hard to beat a good wrestler twice, especially a wrestler as good as Suriano is, so expect a fired-up and revenge-seeking Suriano if he competes against DeSanto or Fix again this season. 

After the consecutive losses, Suriano battled through a toe injury and took the mat for the Knights, who were in desperate need of a win against Michigan State. 

He delivered a technical fall over his opponent, Logan Griffin, to earn 5 crucial team points for Rutgers. 

Don’t expect a regression for Suriano following two tough losses against nationally ranked opponents. Instead, expect the matches to inspire and motivate Suriano for the rest of the season. 

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

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