Every point. Every bout.
It's how you win at the highest level of college wrestling. And that's the Big Ten. RU split the bouts 5-5 against an unranked Wisconsin team but gave up the only bonus points of the match - by fall - at 133 pounds. That result was the deciding factor as the Knights dropped last Friday's match, 18-15.
And a strong comeback against No. 10 Michigan on Sunday fell short. Down 10-3 after four bouts, the Knights reeled off three straight wins to take a 16-10 lead. That was the first and only lead for Rutgers as the Wolverines won the last three bouts - two falls and a tech fall - to shut down Rutgers, 27-16 in front of a season high crowd of 3,091.
Rutgers now sits at 13-5, 3-4 in the Big Ten.
As the teams left the mat and fans exited after the Michigan match, the PA system was playing Journey's Don't Stop Believing. It was an appropriate song as the Knights need to regroup for the rest of the season, including the Big Ten Championships as well as the NCAA Championships at Madison Square Garden.
The Badgers (2-5, 1-4 B1G) again brought snow to New Jersey. Two weeks ago the match against UW was postponed because of the blizzard. Last Friday, snow also greeted everyone as they woke up.
After dropping the first two bouts, the Knights won five of the next seven, all by regular decision. It came down to the last match at 125 where the Badgers won their fifth bout. The matchups did not go well for Rutgers on the night. At 133, No. 17 Anthony Giraldo faced No. 7, and Wisconsin's No. 3 Isaac Jordan topped RU's No. 8 Anthony Perrotti at 165.
The under story on the night was the fact that Rutgers assistant Donny Pritzlaff is a Wisconsin grad. The intense - some would say insane - behavior of Wisconsin head coach Barry Davis (Pritzlaff's mentor) during the match seemed to highlight that friction. Time after time, he challenged calls at the table until he finally ran out of challenges. And when the announcement was made that he had run out, the crowd erupted.
Against the Wolverines, it was not a matter of matchups as it was a matter of UM dominating bouts and scoring bonus points. After the first two, Michigan had a 6-0 lead. Both bouts went into overtime, both were Michigan wins. Trailing 10-3 going into 157,turned things for the Knights with a thrilling 3-2 win on a takedown on the edge with eight seconds to go.
Following intermission, Rutgers riled the crowd with a major win by Anthony Perrotti and an electrifying pin by Phil Bakuckas at 174. Bakuckas got a quick takedown and kept up the pressure, getting the fall at 2:49. The three consecutive wins put the Knights up 16-10. But the Wolverines regrouped, winning the last three with a tech fall and two pins.
"We knew we were up against it," said head coach Scott Goodale of the final three weight classes. "You want to be able to compete a little bit more there, be able to fight. We've got to fight - you've got to give yourself an opportunity and we just didn't do that. Those guys are really good."
|2/12/16||at Indiana *||Bloomington, Ind.||7:00 p.m. ET|
|2/14/16||at Purdue *||West Lafayette, Ind.||1:00 p.m. ET|
Around the Big Ten
No. 2 Iowa finishes Big Ten sked undefeated, owns at least share of reg. season crown: https://t.co/zim97W8re8— NWCA (@nwcawrestling) February 8, 2016
Iowa is Iowa.
2015-16 Wrestling Standings
Wrestling Attendance.....and why it's good for the future
Rutgers Wrestling is drawing well. The season average is 2,550 - that's more than women's basketball is averaging. And as we noted, the Michigan crowd was tops for the season. But there's more to the number. As with all the matches, there have been lots of young kids in the crowd. Parents, many interested in wrestling, are bringing children, and creating an interest and long term support for RU and it's wrestling program. That, by comparison, has not happened with women's basketball. For the women, you don't find a lot of young people, with or without parents. It is an issue, to a degree dealing with marketing, that must be changed if women's hoops - as well as other sports- is going to even come close to be able to pay its own way.