Rutgers returns to RAC for meets with Indiana, Purdue

After suffering two losses last weekend at the hands of Cornell and Penn State, the Rutgers wrestling team heads back to the comforts of the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) to face off against Indiana and Purdue this weekend.

The No. 22 Scarlet Knights (7-3, 2-2) did not move up or down in the latest NWCA Poll, but are tied with Stanford for the 22nd spot.

Coming into this weekend's matchups, No. 10 true freshman 133-pounder Sammy Alvarez moved up in the FloWrestling rankings from No. 11 to the top 10 spot. Also, No. 14 redshirt freshman 125-pounder Nicolas Aguilar moved up to 14th in FloWrestling's polls.

Aguilar was a bright spot in head coach Scott Goodale's starting 10 this past weekend. He was the lone Rutgers wrestler to pick up wins in both of the dual meets.

Alvarez wrestled two ranked opponents in the top 10 of the 133-pound weight class. Last Friday night, he lost to the No. 18 Big Red's (6-5, 1-0) Chas Tucker in a close 3-2 match at the RAC. Alvarez picked up the first point of the match in the second period after both wrestlers could not capture a point in the opening period.

The Hoosiers (0-5, 0-4) come into the RAC seeking their first win of the season, bringing in this week's Big Ten Wrestler of the Week Graham Rooks. He garnered the award for the second time this year after defeating two ranked opponents in Northwestern's Yahya Thomas and Boilermakers' (9-2, 2-1) Griffin Parriott.

Rooks posted a 15-7 record last season. He claimed a first-place finish at the Cleveland State Open and also took third at the Edinboro Open held at Edinboro University.

Rooks also picked up the Big Ten Wrestler of the Week accolade back on Dec. 17 after he captured a title at the UNI-Open in Cedar Falls, Iowa. 

Last season, Indiana finished with a 6-12 overall record and a 1-8 Big Ten record. The last time these two teams met, the Knights were ranked No. 18 in the nation and took a 24-11 victory over the Hoosiers in Bloomington, Indiana.

In that meet, seven Rutgers wrestlers earned victories, including three major decisions. 

The last time the Knights faced Purdue, Rutgers came away with a 22-15 win on the road back on Feb. 10. Heavyweight fifth-year senior Christian Colucci earned a 3-2 win over Jacob Aven.

Colucci has not wrestled for the Knights since Dec. 7 against Maryland. He worked a 13-4 major decision over Parker Robinson, bringing his record to 9-2. 

Junior 174-pounder Joseph Grello was forced to exit his match against Mark Hall, the consensus top-ranked wrestler, after suffering a lower body injury. It is unclear if Grello will return to the mat at the RAC for both of this weekend's contests. 

True freshman 141-pounder JoJo Aragona is looking to get back in the win column after dropping both of his matches this past weekend. His last win was against Michigan State's Jaden Enriquez, who was injured in the bout.

Aragona holds a 9-6 record and is searching for the 10th win of his career. He was the top recruit at 141 pounds out of Pope John XXIII. A Matamoras, Pennsylvania, native, Aragona captured the 2019 NJSIAA title as a senior in the 138-pound bracket. 

Rutgers will seek to break the Boilermakers' 10-meet winning streak on Sunday when Purdue comes to Piscataway for the 1 p.m. meet. They recently took seven bouts against Indiana en route to a 23-9 team victory.

The Boilermakers' Christian Brunner won 10-1, a major decision, over the Hoosiers'  Nick Willham. Brunner posted a 25-11 record last season along with 11 wins in dual bouts.

Purdue head coach Tony Ersland has been at his post since the 2014-15 season. In his sixth season at the helm, he compiled a 44-40 record entering the 2019-2020 season.

Ersland's wrestlers were ranked 25th to finish last season.

Historically, Ersland has brought in top recruits to West Lafayette, Indiana. In his six years, he has had 10 recruits ranked in the top 100. In 2016, his recruiting class was ranked sixth in the country by FloWrestling.

The Boilermakers will first wrestle Maryland on the road Friday evening before heading up to New Jersey, remaining on the East Coast for the entire weekend.

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

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