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Rutgers rebounds from Illinois loss with 25-6 defeat of Rider

The Rutgers wrestling team bounced back from its weak performance in Friday night’s loss to Illinois with a decisive victory over Rider on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights (9-6, 3-5) defeated the Broncs (10-3, 6-1) by a score of 25-6. 

One matchup that occurred pitted true freshman 141-pounder JoJo Aragona against former Rutgers wrestler Peter Lipari. Aragona executed a buzzer-beating reversal in tiebreaker period No. 4 to beat Lipari 3-2 in dramatic fashion. 

Both wrestlers scored points on escapes during regulation, leaving the match tied heading into overtime period No. 1. The first two tiebreaker periods mirrored the regulation as neither Aragona or Lipari were able to score more points.

During the tiebreaker period No. 3, Lipari nailed an escape, which gave him a 2-1 lead. Aragona then pulled off a reversal at the buzzer to knock off Lipari, who entered the weekend ranked No. 25 in the nation at 141 pounds. Aragona let out a scream as he left the mat. The victory made it 10-0 in favor of the Knights and set the tone for the rest of the meet.

Lipari, who had a solid three-year career for Rutgers, finished off his 13-14 campaign last season with a ninth place finish at the Big Ten. Then, at the NCAA Championships, Lipari went 1-2. 

Ironically, it was Aragona that seemed to force Lipari to enter the transfer portal back in November, after he lost his starting spot to the true freshman. Lipari was granted instant eligibility and has been wrestling for Rider ever since. This victory over his former teammate could be a confidence builder for Aragona moving forward as the Knights prepare for the postseason.

Head coach Scott Goodale expressed his gratitude for Rutgers' overall performance in the match.

"It was great to see our guys finish their matches from top to bottom," Goodale said. "We got an awesome start from 125 pounds and he just didn't stop from there. We train really hard week in and week out and I'm glad we were able to put it all out there tonight to get the victory."

Looking ahead, the Knights will host Northwestern at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) at 7 p.m. on Friday night. This will be their last Big Ten meet of the regular season. 

The Wildcats (4-6, 2-5) have lost 3 of their past 4 matches, with the latest coming against No. 6 Ohio State.

The last time Rutgers and Northwestern met was in the 2017-18 season, when the Knights took a 13-22 win on the road.

Rutgers will then visit Princeton on Feb. 23 to close out its regular season. The Tigers (6-4, 4-0) have back-to-back matches against Penn and Drexel on Feb. 15 before facing the Knights. 

Then on March 7 and 8, Rutgers will host the Big Ten at the RAC. It will be the first time the Knights host a conference event since 2019, when the EIWA Championships were held at the RAC.

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

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