The Big Ten Wrestling Championships opened this morning at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State. Rutgers came ito the tournament with six seeded seeded wrestlers, including number 1 seed Nick Suriano at 125 pounds.
The first session began at 10 am and included the preliminary (pre-quarterfinals) and quarterfinal matches, as well as the first round of wrestlebacks. It’s a grueling morning and early afternoon of competition.
Rutgers first win of the tournament came at 133 as Scott DelVecchio took care of Jason Lantz (Wisconsin) by decision, 4-1 in a pre-quarterfinal bout. With the exception of Suriano, who had a bye in the first round, all Rutgers wrestlers had pre-quarter bouts.
DelVecchio would face Nebraska’s Jason Renteria in the quarters. In January, Renteria topped DelVecchio 14-11 in Lincoln.
Eleazar DeLuca also won his first round bout and earned bonus points with a major decision over Purdue’s Austin Nash, 14-5. His quarterfinal opponent would be Ryan Deakin of Northwestern who he lost to 9-3 on the next to last weekend of the regular season.
No. 8 John Van Brill earns a 4-2 decision over Griffin Parriott of Purdue and will face top seed Michael Kemerer of Iowa. At 165, Richie Lewis advanced with a 20-7 major over Maryland’s Brendan Burnham. He’ll face Wisconsin’s Evan Wick in the quarters, an opponent he topped 2-1 in the last weekend of the season.
Nick Gravina, the five seed, moved into the quarterfinals with a 3-0 win over Buddy Conley of Indiana and would face Emery Parker of Illinois in the quarters.
The other four RU wrestlers lost in the opening round and moved into the wrestle backs, also part of the opening session. So all seeded Rutgers wrestlers were in the quarterfinals.
Quarterfinals and wrestlebacks....here we go!
It started at 125 with Nick Suriano getting on the mat in competition for the first time since the Northwestern match on February 2. The layoff didn’t matter as Suriano earned a comfortable 9-2 decision over No. 9 Travis Piotrowski of Illinois. He advances to tonight’s semifinal bout against Minnesota’s No. 5 Ethan Lizak. It means that Suriano has already qualified for the NCAA tournament as 125 has ten qualifiers from the Big Ten.
At 133, Nebraska’s Renteria took down DelVecchio at the buzzerin the second, but the call was reviewed, only to be upheld and DelVecchio dropped a 3-1 decision. He’ll face Northwestern’s Colin Valdiviez in their wrestleback. DelVeccjio topped Valdiviez in their dual bout, 8-5.
No. 6 Eleazar DeLuca also lost to a higher seed, dropping an 11-1 major decision to No. 3 Ryan Deakin. At 157, John Van Brill dropped a major to top seed Michael Kemerer of Iowa. They both also move to tonight’s wrestlebacks.
At 165, Richie Lewis scored first in his bout with fifth seed Evan Wick and held a 2-0 lead after the first period. A second period escape gave Wick his first points as the bout went to the third. The final period saw a lot of action as Lewis escaped, Wick got a takedown, and the saw Lewis get a reversal. Lewis rode out Wick, got the riding time and moved to the semifinals with a 6-4 win. Like Suriano, this guarantees Lewis a trip to the podium and his ticket to the NCAA tourney. He faces No. 1 seed Isaiah Martinez in the semifinal tonight.
Emery Parker got the first takedown on Nick Gravina at 184, but Gravina escaped to close out the first trailing 2-1. Starting in neutral, Pqrker scored a takedown and, again, Gravina escaped. Down 4-2, Nick was on bottom to start the third but could not score, dropping a 5-2 decision. He’ll face Iowa’s Mitch Bowman in the wrestleback.
The wrestlebacks began for Rutgers with Michael Van Brill vs. Monroe, NJ’s Sal Profaci of Michigan. A penalty against gave Profaci a 1-0 lead after one period. An escape by Profaci gave him a 2-0 lead going into the third with MVB on bottom. In the first :45, Van BRill got an escape, but that would be all he could muster, losing 2-1 and ending his run at the tournament.
Anthony Messner, after a first round loss, took on Andre Lee (Illinois) to try to stay alive. After a scoreless first, each wrestler scored an escape, but Lee won on riding time and Messner was out.
Razohnn Gross also ended his run with a loss by fall to Wisconsin’s Ben Stone.
First Session Team Scores and remaining Rutgers wrestlers
Rutgers has seven wrestlers still in action at the end of the first session. Tonight’s Session II includes the semifinals and additional wrestlebacks.
Ohio State and Penn State, as expected, are leading the team standings. Michigan, a distant third, is holding its own. After those three - okay, really two - everyone else is just seeing how many wrestlers they can get through.
Penn State has eight in the semifinals while OSU has nine. Michigan has seven in the semis.
Updated Big Ten brackets
Semifinals beginning at 6 pm
125: Nick Suriano vs. Ethan Lizak, MINN
165: Richie Lewis vs. Isaiah Martinez, ILL
Wrestlebacks (one win needed for at least 7th)
133: DelVecchio vs. Colin Valdiviez, NU
149: DeLuca vs. Eric Barone, ILL
157: John Van Brill vs. Jake Tucker, MSU
174: Joe Grello vs. Dylan Lydy, PUR
184: Nick Gravina vs. Mitch Bowman, Iowa