Rutgers handles Maryland to open Big Ten dual season


The Rutgers wrestling team's start to its 2019-20 Big Ten dual season couldn't have gone any better than what 5,405 fans saw on display at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC). The Scarlet Knights (6-0, 1-0) captured seven individual wins en route to a 28-11 win over Maryland on Saturday night.

While the home fans had a chance to see No. 18 junior 174-pounder Joseph Grello take a win in his return to the mat, after an injury kept him sidelined, No. 12 redshirt freshman 125-pounder Nicolas Aguilar continued his impressive season with a second period pin against Brandon Cray of the Terrapins (1-3, 0-1). Aguilar, who compiled a .500 record in in his 2018-19 redshirt season, came into this match with only one loss to his name.

"I'm not going to lie — in the beginning I was pretty nervous. You know, the first time in the RAC with all of those fans and everything," Aguilar said. "As soon as I set in and got comfortable with the arena and the mat, I started calming down a little bit and getting to what I do."

Aside from Aguilar, four other wrestlers picked up their first conference dual victories. One of those was a 10-4 win in favor of No. 19 true freshman 133-pounder Sammy Alvarez. 

For Alvarez, who had a field day against Maryland’s King Sandoval, the win was his 10th of the season, bringing his record to 10-4. In dual bouts, this was the Garfield, New Jersey, native's third win. 

True freshman 141-pounder Jojo Aragona, who swept all of Rutgers' matches at the home quad meet to start this season, earned his fourth victory at the RAC. He defeated Hunter Baxter in a close 2-0 decision, featuring only a takedown on the scoreboard.

Redshirt freshman 149-pounder Gerard Angelo, who is ranked 24th in his weight class by FloWrestling, was the second and final Knight to finish his bout with a pin. Angelo secured the team with 6 points with a pin coming at 3:14, in the first period against Michael Doetsch. 

For Angelo, it was his eighth victory of the season. He has four losses in his first season with the varsity squad after transferring from Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua, New York. 

Rutgers would see its first loss in the 157-pound weight class. Jahi Jones, of the Terrapins, recorded two takedowns and an escape en route to a 6-2 victory over junior 157-pounder Michael Van Brill. Van Brill is in his first season as a 157-pounder, a weight class that his older brother alumnus John Van Brill commanded last season.

Junior 165-pounder Brett Donner would go on to lose the second match without putting any points on the scoreboard. Maryland’s Kyle Cochran captured a 3-0 win. At the time, the Terrapins had 6 points, three of which were from Jones's win.

Grello wrestled his first match since suffering a rib injury at the RU Quad on Nov. 2. It featured Maryland’s only ranked starter in the meet, with Philip Spadafora ranked at No. 20 by InterMat.

Grello took a 3-1 lead into the third period, where Spadafora's escape brought him up to 2 points. It wasn't enough for him to claw his way back, as Grello won 3-2.

Redshirt freshman 184-pounder Billy Janzer's 7-2 win was his first Big Ten dual victory of his career. Janzer, who Trackwrestling ranked as the 27th best wrestler in his weight class, captured two takedowns in the second period after going scoreless in the first. 

"He's super intense. He trains at a really high level with Joe (Grello), with Jordan (Pagano) and with (junior 197-pounder) Matt(hew) (Correnti)," said head coach Scott Goodale about Janzer. "He has a good room. He uses all of our resources, he uses our staff, he's constantly trying to learn."

There was one upset at the RAC and it was not in favor of the Knights. Graduate student 197-pounder Jordan Pagano, who missed the majority of last year due to injury, was pinned by Jaron Smith, of the Terrapins, 52 seconds into the match. The loss marked Pagano's first dual loss of the year.

Fifth-year senior heavyweight Christian Colucci earned a 13-4 major decision victory over Maryland’s Parker Robinson in the match's final bout. Colucci won a takedown in the first period before he earned three takedowns for 6 points in the third period. He was also awarded a point for riding time.

"I think our motto all week long was to get to these guys’ legs right away and don't wait," Goodale said. "You saw a bunch of matches early on when we were in on their legs right away."


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