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Rutgers wrestlers compete at Princeton Open

While nine members of the Rutgers wrestling team took to the mat for the first time in a scarlet singlet, seven embarked on a short drive down Route 1 South for the Princeton Open on Sunday.

Making his anticipated debut representing the Scarlet Knights (3-0) was redshirt freshman 125-pounder Nicolas Aguilar. While fellow redshirt 125-pounder Malcolm Robinson started and won 2 out of 3 bouts at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) on Saturday, Aguilar made some noise of his own with a second-place finish in his weight class. 

Aguilar posted a 4-1 record in Princeton, highlighted by a major decision over Columbia's Joe Manchio and a semifinals win over the Tigers' Sean Pierson. But, in the final, Princeton's Pat Glory captured a technical fall to defeat Aguilar 15-0.

In his redshirt year during the 2018-2019 season, Aguilar posted seven wins and one technical fall. The major decision on Sunday was the Gilroy, California, native's first during his collegiate career. 

In the 133-pound weight classes, true freshman Devon Britton and last year's starter junior Shane Metzler also earned wins. The two wrestled unattached, with Britton compiling a 3-2 record. The point differential in all of his three wins was five.

Metzler, who had a 10-18 record as the starter at 125 pounds last season, only came away with one win at the Princeton Open, a 3-2 victory over Hofstra's Jacob Martin. This year, though, Metzler could take a backseat if Robinson sees the mat more. Aguilar could also be in the mix after his performance on Sunday.

With true freshman 141-pounder JoJo Aragona, one of head coach Scott Goodale's most talented recruits entering this season, starting all three competitions at Saturday's quad meet, sophomore 141-pounder Andrew Gapas was inserted into the lineup at Princeton. 

In his first bout, Gapas secured a technical fall over Army's Michael Mcateer. 

Gapas posted a 3-2 record, losing his final match in the consolation quarterfinal to Lehigh's Malyke Hines in a 16-1 technical fall. 

Sophomore Jake Benner represented the 149-pound weight class, with Goodale using both 149-pounders sophomore Nick Santos and redshirt freshman Gerard Angelo on Saturday. Benner, who wrestled in two Big Ten duals last season, also went 3-2 on Sunday. He lost to Jimmy Hoffman of the Mountain Hawks in the quarterfinal round.

Benner, who wrestled unattached made it to the consolation semifinals before losing to Rider's Wyatt McCarthy 9-4. 

True freshman 157-pounder Robert Kanniard, who was the seventh-best recruit at 165 pounds by FloWrestling, went 2-2 at the Jadwin Gymnasium. He won his first two bouts before being knocked out of the main bracket by Jesse Dellavecchia of the Broncos in the quarterfinals round. 

Kanniard, a member of Goodale's recruiting class in 2019, is a New Jersey state champion while medaling in the tournament three times. At Wall High School in Wall, New Jersey, the true freshman holds the Shore Conference's record for most all-time wins with 165 during his high school career. He wrestled unattached on Sunday.

Sophomore heavyweight Alex Esposito competed during both days over the weekend. First, at the RAC on Saturday, he came away with a 14-4 major decision win against Centenary's Jase Crouse. Esposito traveled with the other wrestlers heading to Princeton and compiled a 3-2 record there. 

In his first and last bouts of the day, he lost by fall, both less than 2 minutes into the competition.

Esposito won three regular decisions, including a 10-3 win over Navy's Riley Smith in the consolation bracket's second round. In his redshirt freshman season, he captured a 5-6 record while participating at the Princeton Open last year, as well. 

Rutgers doesn't return to the RAC until Dec. 7 in its first Big Ten dual of the season against Maryland. The Terrapins (1-1) captured one win at the Cavalier Duals hosted by Virginia on Saturday. They defeated Southern Virginia 42-6 while losing to the No. 24 Cavaliers (2-0) 34-6.

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

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