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Big Ten goes 4-4 as Rutgers Wrestling loses in NWCA Duals

It’s all about the post-season from here on in

Roy DeBoer with permission (


It was a rematch of last year’s NWCA match. Two old EAIWA foes meeting for the 46th time. And it would be the home-standing Mountain Hawks coming out with the victory.

Winning seven of the ten bouts, including five of the first six, Lehigh topped the Knights by a 23-10 count.

“I’m a fan of the event. I like this event,” said head coach Scott Goodale. “Everybody’s got to be on board to make it a success. For us, it’s important we get in environments like this. There is a lot of history in this gym. We need to get on the road and win one of these, but this is why we’re in this sport, to wrestle matches like this. Not sit at home and try to get ready for the Big Ten’s.

Anthony Ashnault (141), Jordan Pagano (174), and Nick Gravina (197) were the winners for RU. Pagano had the notable upset as he beat No. 4 Ryan Preisch, 10-4. “He keeps getting better and better,” said Goodale of his 174-pounder. “He’s got a lot of confidence. He lives a lifestyle that leads to moments like this. Good things are going to happen when you’re doing everything right. That’s been my message for 10 years and it’s happening to Jordan Pagano.”

Pagano’s win impressed more than a few people (see below under Rankings) including The Open Mat, which put his match among the top eight this week.

And quite appropriately made RVision’s Top 5 for the week.

And Gravina moved up a weight to earn the major decision at 197.

Razhonn Gross continues to impress, even in defeat. The junior, who hasn’t wrestled since high school, took No. 16 Doug Vollaro to overtime, losing in sudden victory, 3-1.

Rutgers gave up two major decisions in the loss while earning only Gravina’s on the flip side. For the most part, Lehigh’s ranked wrestlers held serve in winning five bouts against lower- or unranked Rutgers opponents.

The Scarlet and the rest of the conference look ahead to championship season, beginning with the Big Ten Championships from March 4-5 in Bloomington, Indiana. Following the conference tournament, RU will compete in the 2017 NCAA Championships from March 16-18 in St. Louis.

No. 11 Lehigh (10-4, 7-1 EIWA) 23, No. 12 Rutgers (12-5, 6-3 Big Ten) 10

Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall Attendance: 1,553

125: No. 5/4/4 Darian Cruz (LU) major dec. over Brandon Paetzell (RU), 18-4

133: No. 9/9/9 Scott Parker (LU) dec. over Scott DelVecchio (RU), 4-2

141: No. 5/5/7 Anthony Ashnault (RU) dec. over No. 16/16/18 Randy Cruz (LU), 4-0

149: No. 12/11/11 Laike Gardner (LU) dec. over No. 14/17/13 Ken Theobold (RU), 7-3

157: Drew Longo (LU) dec. over No. 17/14/13 John Van Brill (RU), 2-1

165: No. 15/NR/NR Mitch Minotti (LU) major dec. over Willie Scott (RU), 13-5

174: No. 19/NR/18 Jordan Pagano (RU) dec. over No. 4/4/4 Ryan Preisch (LU), 10-4

184: Andrew Price (LU) dec. over Phillip Bakuckas (RU), 2-1(TB-1)

197: No. 13/12/14 Nicholas Gravina (RU) major dec. over Thomas Murray (LU), 11-2

HWT: No. 16/17/17 Doug Vollaro (LU) dec. over Razohnn Gross (RU), 3-1 (SV)

Rankings (-/-/-): InterMat / FloWrestling/The Open MatNR denotes not ranked

NWCA National Duals

The Big Ten went 4-4 versus the best of the rest. The two unranked B1G squads, Indiana and Purdue, both pulled upsets in their matches; Rutgers topped both Indiana schools in its dual matches with them. In topping Oklahoma State, Penn State claims the NWCA Duals Championship.

Friday, February 17

#12 Rutgers 10, #11 Lehigh 23

#16 Michigan 15, #7 NC State 23

Purdue 20, #17 South Dakota State 19

Saturday, February 18

#3 Iowa 28, #24 Edinboro 9

Sunday, February 19

#4 Ohio State 18, #8 Cornell 19

#2 Penn State 27, #1 Oklahoma State 13

Indiana 24, #20 Appalachian State 15

#6 Nebraska 15, #5 Virginia Tech 22


As previously noted, Jordan Pagano’s upset of the No. 4 wrestler got a lot of attention. He broke into FloWrestling’s rankings this week and moved up four spots in Intermat’s and three in The Open Mat’s. John Van Brill’s loss, though, hurt in in three of the rankings.

In team rankings, it took them pretty much all season, but with its win over Oklahoma State, the Nittany Lions moved into the top spot. In the process, PSU took all 16 first place votes.

Rutgers held at No. 12, being tied by Minnesota. Wisconsin and Michigan also moved up, despite the Wolverines losing in their NWCA Dual. The Badgers squeaked past then-No. 17 Central Michigan, 19-17. With its upset of No. 17 South Dakota State, Purdue entered the rankings for the first time. That puts ten Big Ten squads in the Top 25.

Big Ten Wrestler of the Week

Bo Nickal, Penn State || 184 pounds – So.

  • Led the top-ranked Nittany Lions to a 27-13 win over No. 2 Oklahoma State
  • The No. 2 wrestler pinned fourth-ranked Nolan Boyd of Oklahoma State in just 38 seconds
  • Improved to 18-0 on the season, earning his 13th pin of the year
  • Earns the fourth Wrestler of the Week Award of his career

NCAA Conference Qualifier Allocation

Based on past history, we are just a matter of days from the NCAA releasing the number of qualifiers each conference will automatically receive for the NCAA Tournament. Each qualifying tournament (the Big Ten is one) is awarded spots per weight class based on current year data. Each wrestler is measured on the following: Division I winning percentage at the weight class; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches ranking.

Last year, the Big Ten received 71 automatic spots out of the 284 total handed out. That was twenty more than the next best conference, the EAIWA, which had 51.

A grudgingly difficult tip o’ the hat

You know how we feel about James Franklin around here. Anyone who thinks he’s the best, raise your hand. Yes, we know your feelings, Mrs. Franklin.

But when you do something cool or really interesting, you have to give whoever it is their due. Hence, we give a salute to Jimmy and his entire staff for putting on PSU wrestling singlets after the Nitts topped Oklahoma State. Program unity.

And for the record, I am still proudly blocked by Coach Franklin.