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No. 18 Rutgers defeats Maryland in final dual of season

It's on to the postseason for the Rutgers wrestling team. After a 25-12 victory over Maryland down in College Park, the No. 18 Scarlet Knights (12-6, 5-4) finished the regular season with a winning record in Big Ten duals, good enough for seventh place in this year’s Big Ten standings. 

"We're fired up about the winning conference record," said head coach Scott Goodale, according to scarletknights.com. "Everything this group has been through with our injuries and illnesses and guys in and out of the lineup, it speaks to the kind of guys we have in this program. To pick up five wins in this conference is a big deal."

Rutgers won 6 of 10 bouts en route to a 25-point team total, its most since Dec. 16 against Rider. In a meet that saw two major decisions, one pin and one techincal fall, the Knights were on the winning side of each of those matches, as they would only drop four decisions in the 125-pound, 165-pound, 197-pound and heavyweight class by a combined score of 22-11. 

No. 1 graduate student 149-pounder Anthony Ashnault picked up his 23rd win of the season against the Terrapins' (1-12, 0-9) Alfred Bannister. The 11-3 major decision keeps Ashnault undefeated on the season as he inches closer to the top spot on Rutgers' all-time wins list. 

Ashnault now needs just four more victories to surpass Mike McHugh for the No. 1 spot, and he will now need to find those wins in the postseason.

No. 4 junior 133-pounder Nick Suriano delivered a first-period pin over Orion Anderson for his 20th win of the season. Suriano will head into the postseason with a lot of confidence after posting one of his best collegiate seasons and will make his return to the Big Ten Tournament after defaulting out of last year’s conference tournament.

In late March, Suriano will also look to avenge a second-place finish from a year ago after falling in the championship round to Iowa’s Spencer Lee in last year’s NCAA Tournament. This will be Suriano’s first postseason in the 133-pound weight class, as possible rematches with No. 2 Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix and No. 1 Michigan’s Stevan Micic await the junior lightweight. 

After missing the past three meets due to injury, true freshman 165-pounder Stephan Glasgow made his return to the mat in the final dual of the season. Glasgow dropped a 6-4 decision against Maryland’s Phil Spadafora, finishing his freshman season 6-7. 

Glasgow, a two-time state champion from Bound Brook, New Jersey, will look to return to his early season form for the upcoming tournaments. Glasgow started his Knights career 5-1 before suffering his first knee injury that sidelined him for the Cliff Keen Invitational. Glasgow will now have two weeks to prepare for his first collegiate tournament. 

While Rutgers ultimately would take the victory in convincing fashion, the meet featured some homesick vengeance, including in the opening bout at the 125-pound slot. The Terrapins' Brandon Cray, a Steinert, New Jersey native and two-time state champion from Steinert High School, earned a close 4-3 decision over sophomore 125-pounder Shane Metzler. 

Maryland’s Niko Cappello, a Cranford, New Jersey native, earned an 8-2 decision over true freshman 197-pounder Max Wright. Wright, an Ohio native, was inserted back into the lineup for the first time since the team’s dual at Hofstra in November in place of sophomore 197-pounder Matthew Correnti. 

With the win, the program finishes with more than 12 wins for the ninth time under Goodale’s leadership. The Knights will go to Indiana for the Big Ten Championships on March 9 and will head to Pittsburgh on March 21 for the NCAA Tournament.

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

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