For the second time in the Big Ten era, Rutgers won a match on criteria.
Tied at 17-17 after the ten bouts, officials went to the rule book to find the winner. Going to Criteria No. 3 - most bout points scored - the Knights (4-3, 1-2) outscored No. 24 North Carolina (6-8) by 70-64. It gave the Knight one team point and the win, 18-17. It was the first time it happened since RU topped then-No. 4 Nebraska, 17-16, on Dec. 12, 2015. It was the second win over a ranked team for Rutgers this season.
“We thought it would be a five-five split [on bouts won], and sure enough it was,” said head coach Scott Goodale. “They were probably favored at 41, and we were probably favored at 84, so that’s why you wrestle the matches. Anything can happen. We pulled out a good team win and one we needed.”
It might have been a bit tougher than it needed to be.
Rutgers had a 17-10 lead after Joe Grello () took a 10-3 win at 174. With three bouts to go, Rutgers needed only a decision to clinch the victory. But they didn’t get it.
No. 10 Nick Gravina, who has been wrestling with an injured shoulder, lost 4-3 to unranked Chip Ness at 184. The match included a locking hands violation against him. So the match moved to 197 with the Knights leading by seven.
The Heels put out No. 17 Danny Chaid to face redshirt freshman Kevin Mulligan, with the knights still needing a win to clinch or not giving up anything more than a regular decision to insure the team win. While Mulligan fought to cut into the riding time, the final 18-8 major decision cut the Knights lead to three going into heavyweight.
The final bout of the night had two unranked wrestlers facing off. A win by Razohnn Gross and Rutgers walks away with the win. A loss by anything but a regular decision and it’s a four match losing streak. UNC’s Cory Daniel’s (14-5) 5-3 victory put the match into the rule book to decide a winner.
The positives, though, were good. Rutgers picked up two major decision from Nick Suriano and Richie Lewis. No. 16 Scott DelVecchio picked up a solid ranked with over No. 20 Zach Sherman and Mike Van Brill upset No. 17 A.C. Headlee at 141. And this past week’s NCAA Wrestler of the Week, Eleazer DeLuca, wrestled a quality match against No. 5 Troy Heilman, losing 4-1 at 149.
While not giving the total picture, the upper weights have been a struggle for the Knights during the three match losing streak and even in this victorious match. Beginning with the first loss to then-unranked Lock Haven on December 1, the last two weights in the lineup are a combined 1-7 leading to a 3-32 team point deficit. It cost them the Lock Haven match and almost did the same against UNC. To be fair, Anthony Messner did a god job of wrestling tough against OSU’s No. 1 Kollin Moore in giving up a major decision in that match. But heavyweight has been a serious weak spot. In those four matches, Gross is 0-4 and has been pinned three times. The decision to redshirt Matt Correnti, the heavyweight of the future, was made pre-season and that now puts the onus on Gross to regain some of his mojo from last season.
Regardless, the Knights go back to work with a win. “Somebody always has a tough bout, so yeah, it’s building for March”, said Goodale, “but it’s also good to get out of here with wins. It is important, because you get back in the practice room on Monday and you are coming off a win and not a loss. I just think that’s what we’re doing and what we’re preaching to these guys.”
The Knights are off for a week before they host now 6-5 Hofstra next Friday night. The Pride is unranked and RU will be looking to build off the North Carolina win. “Here’s the reality; we’re wrestling a really difficult schedule, not only in our conference, but out of conference,” Goodale said. “We picked up Lock Haven and North Carolina who is nationally ranked and can beat anyone on any given night. We’re wrestling a really difficult schedule and you just have to stay the course.”
Honoring the Silver Fox
At intermission, former Rutgers and Middlesex County head coach John Sacchi was honored for his 17-year career at Rutgers. Sacchi, the Hall of Fame coach, is one of the few coaches to have recorded 400 victories at the collegiate level.
No. 17 Rutgers 18, No. 24 North Carolina 17
Dual decided by criterion 3.15.3, 70-64 Attendance: 3,511
125: No. 2/2/2 Nick Suriano (RU) major decision over James Szymanski (UNC), 12-3; RU leads, 4-0
133: No. 16/14/13 Scott DelVecchio (RU) decision over No. 20/19/16 Zach Sherman (UNC), 6-2; RU leads, 7-0
141: Michael Van Brill (RU) decision over No. 17/17/15 A.C. Headlee (UNC), 7-5; RU leads, 10-0
149: No. 5/5/5 Troy Heilmann (UNC) decision over No. 12/12/11 Eleazar DeLuca (RU), 4-1; RU leads, 10-3
157: Kennedy Monday (UNC) major decision over No. 12/18/10 John Van Brill (RU), 16-4; RU leads, 10-7
165: No. 12/12/11 Richie Lewis (RU) major decision over Josh McClure (UNC), 15-5; RU leads, 14-7
174: Joseph Grello (RU) decision over Adis Radoncic (UNC), 10-3; RU leads, 17-7
184: Chip Ness (UNC) decision over No. 10/11/12 Nicholas Gravina (RU), 4-3; RU leads, 17-10
197: No. 17/14/19 Danny Chaid (UNC) major decision over Kevin Mulligan (RU), 18-8; RU leads, 17-14
HWT: Cory Daniel (UNC) decision over Razohnn Gross (RU), 5-3; Dual tied, 17-17
Rutgers wins dual, 18-17, by criterion 3.15.3, 70-64