There is still a whole summer to get through before pre-season action gets underway in the Rutgers Wrestling room, but in the meantime, they will be sending a handful of Scarlet Knights to the U23 World Team Trials.
Peter Lipari, Mike Van Brill, Brett Donner, John Van Brill and Willie Scott will all head out to Akron, Ohio this weekend to vie for the open spots on the United States U23 freestyle team. The World Team Championships take place in Bucharest, Romania in November.
If U23 sounds familiar, Rutgers fans can recall last season when Richie Lewis qualified for the team and ultimately won a gold medal at Championships last November in Poland. Lewis was the only champion for the USA in any style of wrestling in 2017.
As far as 2018 is concerned, Rutgers’ five representatives will look to get some extra work in before preparing for the collegiate season. Each wrestler did see varsity action in 2017-18 but they were highlighted by both Van Brill’s postseason action.
The elder Van Brill, John, finished one win shy of All-American status at the 2018 NCAA Championships and perhaps some potential international competition can boost his skill set as he looks to end his college career on the podium. He will wrestle at 74 kg.
Mike competed in the Big Ten Tournament but fell arguably one win shy of earning an NCAA Tournament berth. With the younger Van Brill going 70 kg, it maintains the notion that he could possibly wrestle at 149 or 157 pounds this upcoming season as we looked at in our lineup projections. 70 kg is right around 154 pounds for international weight.
Lipari, Donner, and Scott will likely use this tournament to gain additional experience, as they will need to really fight for a spot in the lineup this coming season. International competition, while freestyle and not folk style like collegiate wrestling is a perfect opportunity to improve neutral wrestling and takedowns.
Despite going 65 kg, Lipari will wrestle at 133 pounds next season. As he hovers around 140 pounds, it should be a steady weight cut.
While Lewis capturing gold last season was one of the early highlights for Rutgers Wrestling in 2017, it was no easy feat. But if he is any indication, gold medal winners can come out of nowhere. Let’s see if another Scarlet Knight can qualify for the team and compete for gold come this November.