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A very non-traditional wrestle-off opens season for Rutgers Wrestling

It all gets started this weekend with an open tournament and an All Star invitation

Roy DeBoer

Over the last several years, Head Coach Scott Goodale has opened his wrestle-offs to the public. But as he explained at Media Day, “I’m not a huge wrestle-off guy. You’re wrestling the same guy day in and day out. You know what each other is going to do. I’ve always done it for the fans (the wrestle-offs)....but for me, I don’t think it serves the purpose. Putting them in an open tournament where they have to compete three, four, five times. There’s a good chance they’re gonna run into each other, that’s the reason for it. We want to see them perform against other guys.”

So, this year, wrestlers are heading across the Delaware to the 50th East Stroudsburg Open to compete as “unattached” wrestlers in the event on Sunday. That will be how Goodale will select his starting lineup for the opener at Cal State Bakersfield on Nov. 11. That opening weekend sees the Scarlet face CSU Bakersfield, San Francisco State, and Cal Poly.

The team is deep, including a very good freshman class. “There’s a lot of competition in the room right now. There are a lot of weight classes that are uncertain, and that’s a good problem. We have a lot of depth at 125, we have two national qualifiers at 133 (Scott DelVecchio, Tyson Dippery), two national qualifiers at 149 (Anthony Giraldo, Ken Theobold). Who knows what’s going to happen at 165, we have a slew of guys. And heavyweight; we have three heavyweights.”

Rankings

Rutgers has been climbing the rankings over the years, and this year the Knights open the season in a previously unseen preseason spot.

Four Rutgers wrestlers appeared in the Amateur Wrestling News Division I Individual Preseason Rankings, released last week. Two-time All-American Anthony Ashnault is ranked No. 4 at 141 pounds, NCAA qualifier Richie Lewis is ranked No. 6 at 157 pounds, NCAA qualifier Nicholas Gravina is ranked No. 15 at 184 pounds, and two-time NCAA qualifier Ken Theobold is ranked No. 16 at 149 pounds.

All four Scarlet Knights were also ranked by Intermat, FloWrestling and WIN Magazine in recent weeks. RU wrestlers named in preseason rankings are listed below.

The National View

Along with Anthony Perrotti, Anthony Ashnault was a two time All American. The two of them have been the face of Rutgers Wrestling the last few seasons. And while replacing the graduated Perrotti will not be easy, Ashnault returns, and the national wrestling media continues to take note. The story from Trackwrestling is worth your time.

A Rutgers First

This weekend in Cleveland, the NWCA All Star Classic will see Anthiny Ashnault compete against NCAA runner-up Bryce Meredith. It will be the first time a Rutgers wrestler has competed in this invitational. NWCA has been conducting a Twitter poll on who will win. You can still vote.

In addition, Richie Lewis will also be heading to Cleveland for an exhibition match, another recognition of Rutgers’ quality.

Big Ten Wrestling / Rankings

Eight conference teams enter the season ranked among the top 15 in the InterMat College Dual Meet Rankings, including six in the top 10. Iowa leads the way at No. 2, followed by No. 4 Penn State, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Nebraska, No. 9 Minnesota and No. 10 Illinois. Michigan begins the season ranked No. 11 in the poll, while Rutgers is No. 15.

And in its usual multi-ranking way, the wrestling community has Rutgers three spots higher using the coaches poll, as was noted above.

RWJBarnabas Health Performance Center

Wrestling, of course, will be getting a new practice area along with lockerrooms and offices in the new facility. And while the groundbreaking was on Tuesday, construction won’t start until the spring. Want to get that thing done fast? Scott Goodale offered his help. He told Pat Hobbs to leave the shovels out and the team would get it dug pretty quickly.

I don’t doubt it for a second!

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