Rutgers visits Indiana for 2 matches
The Rutgers wrestling team will be taking a trip to the Midwest this weekend for two of its last three road meets of the regular season. Fresh off a thriller over Garden State rival Princeton, the No. 18 Scarlet Knights (9-5, 2-3) will be returning to Big Ten action with meets against Indiana on Friday night and No. 19 Purdue on Sunday afternoon.
Rutgers will be looking to climb the conference standings over the weekend as it makes one final push to claim the best possible seed before the postseason begins in March. The Knights are currently in seventh place well ahead of both their opponents over the weekend but can move into a tie for sixth with Nebraska, should they win both matches.
This weekend will mark the first meetings against both the Hoosiers (4-9, 1-5) and the Boilermakers (5-7, 2-4) since January 2017. Rutgers won both those meetings en route to a 12-5 finish in a year that saw a No. 1 graduate student 149-pounder Anthony Ashnault, then a junior, win two Big Ten titles.
Now newly ranked No. 1 in the country in the 149-pound weight class, Ashnault will be putting his undefeated record on the line against either Indiana's Fernando Silva or Breydon Bailey on Friday night, neither of which have a winning record this season.
On Saturday against Purdue, Ashnault will face either Parker Fillius or Austin Nash. Ashnault will look to get two more wins to move to 21-0 on the season and climb the program’s all-time wins list. Currently at No. 5 on the list with 110 wins, Ashnault needs only eight more by the end of the season to take sole possession of the top spot for most all-time wins.
On the other end of the spectrum for the Knights, sophomore 125-pounder Shane Metzler will be looking to break out of a prolonged slump over the weekend and get his first win since November. Metzler has started all but one meet in the 125-pound slot and is currently riding a 10-match losing streak.
Metzler will have his work cut out for him this weekend as he will either be taking on the Hoosiers’ Elijah Oliver or Liam Cronin Friday evening and will likely be taking on the Boilermakers' No. 19 Devin Schroder on Sunday.
No. 4 junior 133-pounder Nick Suriano has already faced five ranked opponents this season going 3-2 in those bouts. Suriano will get a match against Indiana's Garrett Pepple on Friday night before getting another shot at a ranked opponent on Sunday as he will take on Purdue’s No. 14 Ben Thornton.
Rutgers’ last ranked wrestler, No. 14 graduate student 157-pounder John Van Brill is coming off a win over the Tigers’ Quincy Monday and will be facing an opponent ranked just above him on Sunday. Van Brill will look to take an Ashnault-eque jump as he is set to take on the Boilermakers' No. 13 Griffin Parriott.
Sophomore 174-pounder Joseph Grello will be facing the Knights’ toughest opponent of the weekend as he is set to challenge Purdue's No. 11 Dylan Lydy. Lydy is a 2018 NCAA qualifier and the current team leader in wins.
A similarly difficult challenge awaits sophomore 197-pounder Matthew Correnti, as he is set to face Purdue's No. 12 Christian Brunner on Sunday. Correnti is coming off a 1-point loss to Princeton’s Patrick Brucki as he will look to break out of a five-match losing streak.
History proves that Rutgers has a clear advantage over both of these opponents as the Knights are 3-1 lifetime against the Hoosiers and 3-0 against the Boilermakers. While Indiana has no wrestlers ranked by Intermat, they do have three wrestlers with previous NCAA experience.
Purdue’s two best wrestlers may spell trouble for Rutgers on Sunday as the Knights will send out two unranked wrestlers who have shown recent struggles to take on Brucky and Lydy. The x-factor in the meet against the Boilermakers is likely to be Van Brill vs. Parriott as both are close in the rankings and are coming off wins.
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