Iowa City. Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the mecca of college wrestling. 6,791 rabid Iowa fans. A tough place for anyone to be the visitor. And with three wins by bonus points and a pair of upsets at 157 and 285, Iowa won eight of the ten bouts and handed Rutgers its second loss of the season, 29-6. A tough loss 891 miles away from home. How would the team respond? How tough a loss would this be?
"I just thought we got bullied all over the mat," said head coach Scott Goodale. "We got pushed all over the mat. We didn't compete at certain spots and gave up easy takedowns, and then they got the crowd into it and the coaches into it. It just snowballed and we never recovered."
So, how would they respond just two days later?
I believe the correct term to describe Rutgers' answer is.....BOOM!
The first Rutgers Big Ten victory at home was a stunning win over then-No. 4 Nebraska. Splitting the bouts 5-5, the teams were tied at the conclusion of Billy Smith's 8-2 win over No. 13/20/20 Collin Jensen.
Roy DeBoer - used with permission
And then it was time to wait as the officials reviewed the criteria for determining a team winner.
Roy DeBoer - used with permission
Under criterion 3.15.3 - total match points scored only from decisions, major decisions and technical falls - Rutgers claimed its first Big Ten win in front of the home crowd. A crowd of 2,652, a crowd larger than any women's basketball game thus far this year. And they loved it. And so did the coach.
"It's great to fill the arena and pack the RAC, but you want to win. Today was that day," said head coach Scott Goodale. "I've been dying for one of those. We've been close and I just think what happened in the last 48 hours (Iowa loss) makes it even more special."
The most special match came at 184, where then-unranked Nick Gravina upset No. 4 T.J. Dudley, 3-2. The Nebraska junior was a two-time NCAA qualifier and a returning All American. And Gravina's win over him turned the tide for the Knights.
"I just tried to wrestle as hard as I could and it worked out," Gravina said. "Just like every other match, I had to push pace, go as hard as I could, try to score as much as possible, not go too much over the head, and that was it."
Anthony Ashnault,, and Anthony Perrotti were the other winners for RU. Ashnault scored a major decision over No. 17/12/18 Anthony Abidin, while Lewis won a decision over No. 10/9/9 Tyler Berger, 10-3 and Perrotti upset No. 4/4/3 Austin Wilson, 9-4. And Perrotti reflected on the impact of the victory. "It's huge. As coach said, the last 48 hours were really tough," Perrotti said. "We went out to Iowa and we got beat eight matches to two, and to say that me and Anthony [Ashnault] picked up the only ‘Ws' - we were not happy with our performance at all. Waking up this morning I just felt different. I felt ready. I felt prepared."
When you win a big match, upsetting a top ten team - especially when you're the upstart program - people start calling. And Coach Scott Goodale is now experiencing what it's like to be one of the big boys on the mat.
Moving forward, and so you can plan accordingly, here is Rutgers' schedule including the first match of the new year. At home. In the Big Ten. At the RAC.
|12/29/15||Midlands Championships||Evanston, Ill.||All Day|
|12/30/15||Midlands Championships||Evanston, Ill.||All Day|
|1/08/16||Michigan State *||RAC||7:00 p.m. ET|
Ten schools in the Top 25. That's the Big Ten. The next best result by a conference is the ACC with five. Yeah, we are a very good wrestling conference. RU moved up two spots in the USA Today/NWCA rankings to No. 9, making five Big Ten schools in the top ten.
|USA Today/NWCA Coaches|
|1||Penn State (12)||5-0||1|
Individual rankings also moved after Saturday's win. Of significance is the fact that seven Rutgers wrestlers, a first, are now nationally ranked by at least one of the ranking services. And winning big, upsetting a top ten opponent, has a way to draw attention to you. Just ask Nick Gravina
Welcome redshirt sophomore Nicholas Gravina to the @InterMat rankings! Gravina (8-3) posted a 3-2 win over then-No. 4 T.J. Dudley Saturday.— Rutgers Wrestling (@RUWrestling) December 15, 2015
Rutgers wrestlers in the national rankings
|Intermat||FloWrestling||The Open Mat||Win Magazine|
|R-Jr. SEAN McCABE – 125 Pounds (6-5, 6-5 Duals)|
|R-Fr. ANTHONY GIRALDO– 133 Pounds (7-5, 7-5 Duals)|
|R-So. ANTHONY ASHNAULT – 141 Pounds (11-0, 11-0 Duals)|
|Jr. RICHIE LEWIS – 157 Pounds (8-1, 8-1 Duals)|
|R-Sr. ANTHONY PERROTTI – 165 Pounds (10-1, 10-1 Duals)|
|R-So. NICHOLAS GRAVINA – 184 Pounds (8-3, 8-3 Duals)|
|R-Sr. BILLY SMITH – 285 Pounds (9-3, 9-3 Duals)|
Around the Big Ten
Wrestler of the Week
Luke Blanton, Indiana, 149 pounds - So.
Went 2-0 on the weekend against Minnesota's Jake Short (No. 10) and Eastern Michigan's Nicholas Barber (No. 17) to help Hoosiers to undefeated weekend