Seven RU wrestlers went into the first session of the NCAA Wrestling Championships at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Only two won their first matches, keeping alive a line to the championship.
The Knights opened with a tough challenge with Scott DelVecchio facing the No. 3 seed, Kaid Brock of Oklahoma State. DelVecchio kept it close in the first two periods before dropping a 12-4 major and moving to the wrestlebacks. He will face Rico Montoya (18-13) of Northern Colorado.
Rutgers’ first win was a solid performance by Anthony Ashnault. The No. 5 seed took an 8-3 victory. AA faces Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher (24-7); he defeated Pletcher twice already this season.
Ashnault’s win was followed by No. 15 seed Ken Theobold and the only other Knight to win his opening bout. Theobold got the 8-2 victory over UVA’s Sam Krivus. Oklahoma State’s second seed, Anthony Collica (21-2), will be his next opponent.
The big disappointment of the opening session was at 157 where No. 13 seed John Van Brill was upset by a wrestler he had beaten twice this season. Tied at 2-2 with just over a minute to wrestle, Illinois’ Kyle Langenderfer reversed Van Brill and went on to a 10-4 victory. Ryan Moseley (26-11) of Gardner-Webb is next up in the wrestlebacks for JVB.
Jordan Pagano was awarded an at large spot at 174 in the tournament and drew six-seed Ryan Preisch of Lehigh. Their first meeting in the NWCA Dual was an upset by Pagano, but it was not to happen again. Preisch controlled the match en route to a 9-0 major win. Pagano will face Boise State’s Austin Dewey (24-14) next.
Nick Gravina, also unseeded, pulled a tough draw facing No. 3 seed Sammy Brooks of Iowa. Wrestling tough wasn’t enough as Brooks took the 7-3 victory. Gravina moves to the consolations and will face Stanford’s Zach Nevills (6-10).
The last Knight to wrestle was freshman Matt Correnti. Correnti would face the second seed, Minnesota’s Brett Pfarr. Pfarr had things well in hand and went on to a 11-3 major decision. Correnti will face the No. 15 seed, Wisconsin’s Ricky Robertson (26-15). Robertson was upset by Oklahoma’s Brad Johnson. In the Big Ten Tournament, Correnti also upset Robertson (seeded fifth) in OT.
After one session, certainly not any significant indicator, Penn State leads Oklahoma State by a point, 16-15. Ohio State and Iowa sit at 3 and 4. Rutgers, with only two wrestlers earning points in the first session, is tied with nine other schools for 33rd. They have 2 points (advancement points).
The next round is at 7:00 pm ET on ESPN.