This may be as big a weekend as Rutgers has had so far this season.
Two matches this weekend, including the re-start of the Big Ten schedule, face the Knights beginning tonight at the RAC. Coming off a criteria win over North Carolina last Friday - ending a three match skid - Scott Goodale’s troops look to capitalize on the momentum to improve on their 4-3, 1-2 B1G record.
The weekend starts with Hofstra, which is currently 7-5 overall and 2-2 in the EIWA, following their 1-2 weekend against Air Force, Bloomsburg and Binghamton. The Pride lost to Air Force last Friday, 21-12, topped Bloomsburg, 27-12 on Sunday, followed by a 27-9 loss to EIWA-foe Binghamton Sunday night.
Hofstra’s only ranked wrestler is at heavyweight where they are led by senior Michael Hughes. Hughes was 3-0 with two pins last weekend, becoming the 15th wrestler in Hofstra history to reach the century mark in victories. Hughes is now 100-43 in his career. Hughes improved to 24-2 on the season with his only losses coming to fifth-ranked Jacob Kasper from Duke and eighth-ranked Nick Nevills from Penn State in the Southern Scuffle earlier this month. He is also tied for the Division I lead in pins with 12. Hughes is ranked seventh by Amateur Wrestling News, eighth by The Open Mat and WIN, and ninth by FloWrestling and InterMat.
In previewing the match, Hofstra highlighted junior Nezar Haddad (12-11 at 197), red-shirt freshman Charlie Kane (9-11 at 141), sophomores Sage Heller (8-9 at 165) and Vinny Vespa (8-9 at 133) and red-shirt junior Cory Damiana (6-11 at 184).
To get a sense of the Pride’s recent activity and their view of the RU match, here’s Chris Mauriello, their 157-pounder. You can watch the opening which is a bit of a promo for the wrestling program, or you can jump to the 2:22 mark and hear what Mauriello has to say.
New Pride Time with Chris Mauriello talking about Air Force, Bloomsburg, and Binghamton. Also, looking forward to the Rutgers match tomorrow. If you can join us down at the match we would love to have you. #RoarWithPride #StrengthInPride https://t.co/ZrQdrU658H— Hofstra Wrestling (@HofstraWREST) January 18, 2018
Ranked wrestlers based on The Open Mat
125 2 Nick Suriano
133 12 Scott Delvecchio
149 10 Eleazar DeLuca
157 14 John Van Brill
165 11 Richie Lewis
185 15 Nicholas Gravina
285 8 Mike Hughes (HOF)
Rutgers needs its studs to step up and make statements, early and often. To be honest, Nick Gravina has to get back on track and wrestle up to his potential, something that almost cost the Knights in the UNC match.
Win or lose, Rutgers gets little time to rest. Following the Hofstra match, the Knights will be bound for Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers this Sunday. It begins a stretch of six consecutive Big Ten contests, four of which will be on the road. The Huskers are currently No. 18 in the USA Today/NWCA poll.
Nebraska is 4-3, 2-1 B1G. They had a big win last Friday, a 20-15 win over then-No. 22 Purdue at home last Friday. They got their first Big Ten win over Maryland the week before, ending a three match slide against NC State, UNC, and Illinois.
The UNC matches create a wrestling fan’s dream: common opponents. The Huskers lost to the Heels, 22-14.
125: James Szymanski (UNC) dec. Mitchell Maginnis (NEB), 5-3 (Suriano MD over Szymanski, 12-3)
133: #19 Zach Sherman (UNC) SV-1 Zak Hensley (NEB), 3-1 (DelVecchio dec over Sherman, 6-2)
141: #8 Chad Red Jr. (NEB) tech. fall A.C. Headlee (UNC), 16-1 (M. VanBrill dec over Headlee, 7-5)
149: #4 Troy Heilmann (UNC) major dec. #8 Colton McCrystal (NEB) (Heilmann dec over DeLuca, 4-1)
157: Kennedy Monday (UNC) pin #7 Tyler Berger (NEB), 1:31 (Monday MD over J. VanBrill, 16-4)
165: #10 Isaiah White (NEB) dec. Clay Lautt (UNC), 10-4 (Lautt DNW Lewis)
174: Beau Breske (NEB) TB-1 Adis Radoncic (UNC), 3-2 (Grello dec over Radoncic, 10-3)
184: #6 Taylor Venz (NEB) SV-1 #20 Chip Ness (UNC), 13-11 (Ness dec over Gravina, 4-3)
197: Danny Chaid (UNC) dec. Eric Schultz (NEB), 6-2 (Chaid MD over Mulligan, 18-8)
HWT: Cory Daniel (UNC) dec. David Jensen (NEB) 3-2 (Daniel dec over Gross, 5-3)
Ranked wrestlers/pairings based on The Open Mat
125 2 Nick Suriano
133 12 Scott Delvecchio
141 4 Chad Red (NEB)
149 10 Eleazar DeLuca vs 8 Colton McCrystal (NEB)
157 14 John Van Brill vs 8 Tyler Berger (NEB)
165 11 Richie Lewis vs 13 Isaiah White (NEB)
185 15 Nicholas Gravina vs 7 Taylor Venz (NEB)
Nebraska is a winnable match. Again, RU’s big guns need to push the envelope and win the 50-50 bouts. The Huskers have five ranked wrestlers, four going head-to-head with ranked Knights. Three of them are higher ranked than their Rutgers’ opponent. But rankings are just numbers; it all comes down to what do you put out on the mat.
Rutgers Upcoming Schedule
Aftee Sunday’s trip to Nebraska, the Knights are off until the following Sunday when they host No. 1 Penn State at the RAC. The match is sold out and has a 2:00 pm start time.
This Weekend in the Big Ten
All times are Eastern
Michigan State at Indiana (BTN) 6:00 p.m.
Wisconsin at Michigan (BTN Plus)7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Northwestern 7:00 p.m.
Purdue at Penn State (BTN Plus) 7:00 p.m.
Wisconsin at Michigan State (BTN Plus) 1:00 p.m.
Illinois at Purdue (BTN Plus) 1:00 p.m.
Michigan at Minnesota (BTN Plus) 2:00 p.m.
Rutgers at Nebraska (BTN Plus) 2:00 p.m.
Iowa at Ohio State (BTN) 3:30 p.m.
Penn State at Maryland (BTN Plus) 4:00 p.m