Wrestling. The world's oldest sport has been at Rutgers since 1935, but most here probably don’t know much, if anything, about it. The blogs tend to focus on the biggies, the revenue sports of football and basketball. But as Rutgers heads for the B1G in 2014, it’s worth noting that the Big Ten likes its other sports, too. And they’ve done very well. Rutgers’ recent success in wrestling under Scott Goodale’s leadership will be tested when the Knights compete in what is undoubtedly the toughest conference in college wrestling.
Under Goodale, the Knights have put together a 99-33-1 record, including two 20-win seasons. In 2009, wrestling began to appear regularly at the RAC, something that drew crowds better than some men’s and women’s basketball games. And RU will be appearing in its second "Grapple at the Garden" at MSG on Dec. 1. New Jersey has been a hotbed of wrestling for decades, and bringing the B1G into NJ will only raise the profile of the sport and Rutgers wrestling.
And about the B1G. They take most of their sports seriously, and wrestling is no exception. Any question it is top notch wrestling can be crushed with a look at this past season’s numbers:
2013 NCAA Tournament
· Penn State won its third NCAA Wrestling Championships title in as many seasons
· Minnesota finished third and Iowa was in fourth-place
· The Big Ten had six of the 10 individual champions
· Over a third of the All-America honors awarded at the NCAA Championships were given to Big Ten wrestlers
· In qualifying wrestlers for the tournament, the Big Ten matched a conference record and received the most of any conference with 74. The Big Ten sent at least six automatic qualifiers in all 10 weight classes, including nine automatic bids at heavyweight, and boasted the highest amount of qualifiers of any conference in each class.
Source: Big Ten
More state qualifiers are looking at and considering Rutgers since Scott Goodale became head coach. And this spring, Rutgers wrestling’s 2013 recruiting class was ranked No. 13 in the country according to InterMat’s rankings. That is terrific. But take a look at the numbers 1-12 ranked squads:
2. Virginia Tech
4. North Dakota State
7. Penn State
10. North Carolina State
11. Ohio State
And behind Rutgers in the top 25 are three more B1G wrestling squads.
The B1G will mean better competition in all sports. And wrestling, one of the more successful programs currently at Rutgers, will be facing the best in the country when Big Ten competition starts in 2014-15. It’s drawn good crowds, it’s been on the upswing. Will Rutgers wrestling continue its success as the Knights go west into the B1G?