Rutgers finishes home schedule vs. No.4 Michigan
With just two dual meets left, the Rutgers wrestling team will face possibly its toughest challenge of the season when it hosts No. 4 Michigan at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) on Sunday afternoon.
The meet will be the last time the No. 18 Scarlet Knights (11-5, 4-3) will see the RAC this season and for a number of seniors it will be the last time they ever take the mat in front of a home crowd.
The featured matchup of the day will see No. 4 junior 133-pounder Nick Suriano take on No. 1 Stevan Micic. The two juniors have wrestled at the top of the Big Ten for the past three seasons but will meet for the first time on Sunday.
Suriano is ironically the second-best opponent Micic will have faced in the past week. Northwestern 125-pounder Sebastian Rivera was bumped up to the 133-pound slot last Sunday specifically to face Micic, resulting in a 10-4 Micic victory.
Suriano will look to hand Micic his first loss of the season when the two meet at the RAC and do what the four other ranked opponents that Mincic has faced this season, failed to do.
It will be a bittersweet day for a pair of ranked graduate students and one unranked Rutgers wrestler as No. 1 graduate student 149-pounder Anthony Ashnault, and fellow graduate students No. 14 157-pounder John Van Brill and 184-pounder Nicholas Gravina will wrestle at the RAC for the final time.
After redshirting his freshman season in 2013, Ashnault first officially donned a Knight's singlet in a season opening quad meet back on Nov. 2, 2014. In the nearly five years since that day, Ashnault has recorded 112 wins on the Banks with many of them coming in front of a RAC crowd.
Ashnault most recently majored Princeton’s Matthew Kolodzik in front of the Rutgers faithful, and will now face the Wolverines' (10-1, 6-1) Malik Amine, a fellow graduate student and NCAA qualifier.
Gravina also first came to Rutgers in 2013 alongside Ashnault. In his six years as a Knight, Gravina has racked up 74 career wins and has been an NCAA qualifier three times.
In his last home dual, Gravina will face a redshirt freshman. No. 20 Jelani Embree has recorded a 10-4 record this year and will take the mat against Gravina on Sunday.
Van Brill came to Rutgers a year after both Gravina and Ashnault and has tallied 68 total wins in his time as a Knight. The two-time NCAA qualifier has reached his highest national rank this year at 14, and will face off against another graduate student and two-time All-American No. 6 Alec Pantelo.
Rutgers will face a team with 8 of its 10 starters ranked inside the Intermat top 20. While Suriano will face the best of the bunch in the top-ranked Micic, a very intriguing matchup awaits junior heavyweight Christian Colucci.
Colucci will face off against Michigan’s freshman sensation No. 6 Mason Parris. Parris was the No. 3 recruit in the country coming out of high school, while Colucci is on possibly his hottest streak of the season, winning three in a row.
The Knights have very little to gain in the Big Ten standings before seasons end. Currently in seventh place, Rutgers can't jump any higher in the standings were it to win its final two meets.
The two teams ahead of the Knights, Ohio State and Nebraska, face each other this weekend making any chance of Rutgers to leapfrog them nigh.
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