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A split in Illinois leaves Rutgers Wrestling at .500 again

Suriano sits out Illinois with “flu-like symptoms”

Roy DeBoer with permission

Well, that wasn’t expected.

It was there for the taking, but things just started wrong with Suriano scratched, and the Knights never got back on track eventually losing 23-12 to Illinois.

With Suriano out, and down 6-0 to start, Scott DelVecchio got the Knights on the board with a 3-1 decision. That was followed, though, by a loss at 141 and then, in somewhat of a surprise, Eleazer DeLuca (8-7) was replaced by true freshman Nick Santos (11-5) at 149. It didn’t improve results as Santos dropped a tight 3-2 decision, putting the Knights in a 12-3 hole.

It then fell to No. 17 John Van Brill to turn things around. Leading Kyle Langenderfer 2-1 after one period, VanBrill was turned in the second, falling behind 7-3 after five minutes of wrestling. But despite a flurry in the third, JVB fell 8-6. Knights trail 15-3 at the intermission.

In another lineup change, Richie Lewis was pulled at 165, inserting sophomore Brett Donner against No. 2 Isaiah Martinez. The three time Illini All American led 16-3 after one and went on to the second period tech fall, leaving Rutgers down 20-3 with four bouts remaining.

At 174, Joe Grello stopped the bleeding with a 6-2 decision, but at that point Rutgers had dug too big a hole to recover. Nick Gravina was held out at 184 - despite only losing to No. 6 Emery Parker by a point at the Midlands - replaced by redshirt sophomore Willie Scott who dropped a tight 4-3 decision.

At 197, Anthony Messner took a riding decision at 197. The final bout paired Razohnn Gross and Deuce Rachal at heavyweight. This was the bout that decided last year’s match at the RAC as Gross took a 3-2 win to win it for Rutgers. There would be no possibility for such heroics this year, despite Gross winning again. The two wins to close out the disappointing match were not enough to overcome Illinois’ six wins.

In possibly exlpaining the lineup changes without giving up too much, head coach Scott Goodale did comment after the match. “We’re a little banged up right now at certain spots in our lineup,” said Goodale. “We’re looking forward to returning home, healing and preparing for our dual with Minnesota on Friday.”

Play the “if only...” game with me: Suriano wrestles and you certainly take six back from Illinois. Add just a decision for Suriano (Piatrowski was a ranked wrestler at No. 18) and the score becomes....17-15 Illinois. But if Suriano pins, the Knights win. But more significantly, what happened along the way in the other bouts? When your ace goes down, others need to step up. Of RU’s six ranked wrestlers, only two wrestled and they split. And even though Rutgers only gave up bonus points at one weight (aside from the forfeit), they didn’t score any. Two of its top wrestlers - Lewis and Gravina - didn’t wrestle at all.

Then there was Northwestern....

Milestones. Important and worth noting.

With the win at Northwestern on Friday night, Scott Goodale put himself in position to be the “legendary” wrestling coach at Rutgers. Not that he cares about that stuff.

The Knights took six bouts en route to a 22-13 win over Northwestern (8-4, 3-4 B1G).

With that victory, Goodale now owns 159 wins for his career, passing Deane Oliver for second most in program history. Goodale needs just eight more victories to surpass John Sacchi for the all-time mark at Rutgers; Sacchi owns 166 career wins.

Nick Suriano opened the match and the RU scoring with a 4-1 decision over No. 10 Sebastian Rivera. He is now 5-0 against ranked foes this season, outscoring them 27-9 in those matches. The Knights extended the lead to 9-0 with decisions by Scott DelVecchio and Michael Van Brill. Brother John Van Brill then pinned Shayne Oster in 2:43 to boost the lead to 15-3. It was the third time this season that both Van Brills had wins in the same match (Oklahoma and Hofstra).

Richie Lewis and Nick Gravina wrapped up the scoring for Rutgers with wins, Lewis picking up bonus points with a major at 165.

Closing out the home season on Friday

The final home match of the season for Rutgers is this Friday as they host current-No. 18 Minnesota. Rutgers is 0-2 all time against the Gophers, both losses in Big Ten competition. Minnesota lost on Friday night at Iowa, 34-7. The match is Senior Night for RU as the home crowd says good bye to Scott DelVecchio, Eleazer DeLuca, Nick Gravina, Razohnn Gross, Richie Lewis, and Anthony Messner.

For the record....

Penn State earned at least a share of the regular season Big Ten title with a 19-18 win over Ohio State on Saturday night at Rec Hall on the PSU campus. The two teams split the bouts, 5-5, but bonus points made the difference as the Lions (12-0, 8-0 B1G) won the match. The Buckeyes are now 12-1, 7-1 B1G.

And lest there be any question as to who is Ohio State’s true “rival”, this was at the end of the match story on the Ohio State website (highlight added):

Rivalry week begins immediately as the Buckeyes next take the mat up in Ann Arbor at that school up north on Sunday (Feb. 11). The 6 p.m. ET dual will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

Match Results

Friday, February 2

No. 19 Rutgers (6-5, 2-4) 22, No. 17 Northwestern (8-3, 3-3) 13

125: No. 1/1/2 Nick Suriano (RU) dec. No. 10/10/7 Sebastian Rivera (NU), 4-1

133: No. 20/16/15 Scott Delvecchio (RU) dec. Colin Valdiviez (NU), 8-5

141: Michael Van Brill (RU) dec. Alec McKenna (NU), 5-1

149: No. 5/9/4 Ryan Deakin (NU) dec. No. 12/12/10 Eleazar DeLuca (RU), 9-3

157: No. 17/15/16 John Van Brill (RU) Fall Shayne Oster (NU), 2:43

165: No. 11/11/11 Richie Lewis (NU) maj. dec. Michael Sepke (NU), 10-2

174: No. 17/17/17 Johnny Sebastian (NU) dec. Joe Grello (RU), 5-2

184: No. 12/13/11 Nicholas Gravina (RU) dec. Mitch Sliga (NU), 3-0

197: Zack Chakonis (NU) maj. dec. Willie Scott (RU), 8-0

285: Conan Jennings (NU) dec. Razohnn Gross (RU), 3-0

Sunday, February 4

No. 17 Illinois (9-3, 4-3) 13 No. 19 Rutgers (6-6, 2-5)

125: No. 18 Travis Piotrowski (UI) wins via forfeit

133: No. 20/16/15 Scott Delvecchio (RU) dec. Dylan Duncan (UI), 3-1

141: Mike Carr (UI) dec. Michael Van Brill, 10-4

149: Eric Barone (UI) dec. Nick Santos (RU) 3-2

157: Kyle Langenderfer (UI) dec. No. 17 John Van Brill (RU), 8-6

165: No. 2 Isaiah Martinez (UI) Tech Fall Brett Donner (RU), 18-3

174: Joe Grello (RU) dec. David Riojas (UI), 6-2

184: No. 6 Emery Parker (UI) dec. Willie Scott (RU), 4-3

197: Anthony Messner (RU) dec. Andre Lee (UI), 4-3,

285: Razohnn Gross (RU) dec. Deuce Rachal (UI), 5-3

Rankings (-/-/-): InterMat / FloWrestling/The Open Mat

NR denotes not ranked