Rutgers unable to capture team victories against Cornell, Penn State

The Rutgers wrestling team captured victories in all 125-pound bouts but was unable to come up with a team win over the weekend against Cornell and Big Ten rival Penn State.

Taking on the No. 19 Big Red (6-5, 1-0), five wrestlers for the No. 22 Scarlet Knights (7-3, 2-2) ended up in the win column. It wasn't enough though, as Cornell came away with a narrow 18-16 victory at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) last Friday evening.

Alumnus Anthony Ashnault and Olympic redshirt Nick Suriano were honored prior to the start of Rutgers' match against the Ivy League opponent. The pair collected the Knights' first-ever NCAA championships at the 133 and 149-pound weight classes this past March in Pittsburgh.

While Ashnault was the lone first-place national finisher at the dual meet, both wrestlers had their accolades hung on a banner in the rafters of the RAC, placed to the left of banners commemorating women's basketball head coach C. Vivian Stringer's 1,000th win and to the right of another honoring the 1976 men's basketball team's Final Four appearance.

No. 16 redshirt freshman 125-pounder Nicolas Aguilar earned a 10-5 decision on Friday and a 10-4 victory, bringing his season record to 17-4. 

In the next lightweight matches over the weekend, No. 9 true freshman 133-pounder Sammy Alvarez matched up with two top-10 ranked opponents. He first started the weekend against the Big Red's No. 4 Chas Tucker. 

Coming from Ithaca, New York, to Piscataway, Tucker, a senior, had never dropped a decision this season. That did not change against Alvarez.

The true freshman, wrestling in Suriano's weight class while he trains for the U.S. Olympic Trials, held his own against Tucker, but lost in a tight 3-2 decision. Then, on Sunday, Alvarez faced one of the toughest wrestlers in the country, the No. 2 Nittany Lions' (6-1, 3-0) Roman Bravo-Young.

Wrestling at Penn State's historical 91-year-old Recreation Hall, Bravo-Young pleased the home crowd by muscling out a 4-2 victory over Alvarez in extra time. 

The Lions went on to win 38-6 for their third conference win of the season.

True freshman 141-pounder JoJo Aragona also dropped both matches that he faced over the weekend. His record this season falls to 9-5. 

For redshirt freshman 149-pounder Gerard Angelo, this weekend was one to forget. He was pinned by Cornell's Hunter Richard and did not wrestle in University Park, Pennsylvania, on Sunday. 

Instead, sophomore 149-pounder Nick Santos made his return to dual action for the first time since the RU Quad at the start of the season. He had wrestled before at the F&M Open with a few of his teammates back on the fourth of this month.

Santos lost 7-3 to Jarod Verkleeren in his first match donning the Scarlet singlet in varsity action since Nov. 2. 

Junior 157-pounder Michael Van Brill split the weekend 1-1 along with redshirt freshman 184-pounder Billy Janzer, No. 18 graduate student 197-pounder Jordan Pagano and junior 174-pounder Joseph Grello.

For Van Brill, he captured a 1-0 victory over Penn State's Bo Pipher, who wrestled instead of No. 4 Brady Berge.

Although Grello won Friday evening, he was unable to complete his match against No. 1 Mark Hall, the consensus top-ranked wrestler at 174-pounds. Grello, a NCAA qualifier last season, suffered an injury to his lower body and exited the bout. Grello battled injuries at the beginning of this season.

There has not been an update on his return.

"We didn't get it done down low, we got it done up top. It was a good fight and good dual meet," said head coach Scott Goodale following Friday's meet. "I just wish we had a little more. I think it's one we let get away." 

Rutgers will return to the RAC for two Big Ten meets against Indiana and Purdue. The Hoosiers (0-4, 0-3) have yet to win a dual meet this season. They dropped a 21-15 dual at Northwestern over the weekend.

The Boilermakers (8-2, 1-1) lost all 10 bouts against Iowa, the top-ranked program in the nation, in front of their home crowd in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue defeated the Wildcats (3-3, 1-2) last Friday.

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

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