Back in June, Rutgers released its home schedule, and it featured a host of top teams, including national champion Penn State.
But they now have the full road and tournament schedule in place and it, too, is full of top teams. The fifteen matches include eight that were ranked in the final USA Today/NWCA Coaches poll, including five that placed within the top 10 of the final rankings.
The previously announced six home opponents produced 41 NCAA qualifiers, 21 All-Americans, 10 championship finalists and seven NCAA individual champions last season. You have your tickets, right?
The Knights had the fifth best home attendance in D1 for the 2016-17 season, a number they hope to exceed in the coming year. And two of those home matches - yes, I’m counting Yankee Stadium as a home contest - are among the dozen “must see” matches of 2017-18!
The season opens at Yankee Stadium against Maryland. Part of the wrestling-football twinbill - the Battle in the Bronx - it marks the second year on a row that the Knights will be wrestling outdoors. Last year, RU topped Maryland, 21-13. The Knights continue wrestling in the Empire State as they travel up the Hudson to Albany and the Journeyman Duals. They’ll face Virginia and Oklahoma (No. 18 in 2017). And since they’re already in a New York state of mind, the Knights finish November at West Point and the Army Invitational.
December opens with a trip to Lock Haven, Alma Mater of head coach Scott Goodale. Goodale was a three-time NCAA qualifier with the Bald Eagles. A week later, thety host Iowa in the first dual match of the season at the RAC. Iowa finished third at the NCAA Tournament in March and had five All-America wrestlers.
While most of their classmates are on break, the Knight will head to Evanston, Ill. for the 55th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships. Rutgers had six athletes place at last year’s Midlands including All-American Anthony Ashnault who finished third.
With the change of the calendar comes the heart of the dual match season, beginning with Ohio State on Jan, 7. It is a three match “homestand” with North Carolina and Hofstra on Jan, 12 and 19 respectively.
The Knights head west to Nebraska and then return home on January 28 for Penn State and their five returning NCAA titlists.
Back-to-back road duals with Northwestern (Feb. 2) and Illinois (Feb. 4) are followed by Rutgers' final home match of the season, a Feb. 9 contest with Minnesota. The Gophers closed out 2016-17 tied for 12th with the Scarlet Knights in the final dual rankings. RU travels to Wisconsin on Feb. 16 for its last Big Ten match, followed by a short trip to Princeton on Feb. 18. Rutgers and the Tigers wrestled outdoors last year at the Battle at the Birthplace in High Point Solutions Stadium with RU coming out on top, 19-16.
It’s a grueling Big Ten schedule on top of a very competitive tournament lineup. A good test for a team poised for success.