John Van Brill and Nick Gravina have been close to becoming All-Americans before. Van Brill fell in the blood round in 2018, Gravina in 2017. They are back and better than ever.
They became the third and fourth wrestlers for Rutgers that are ranked in the preseason Top 20 in their respective weight classes. Anthony Ashnault and Nick Suriano are ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively.
Gravina, who was granted a sixth season, will have one more shot at 184 pounds to claim All-American status for the first time in his career. Van Brill, who lost to Arizona State’s Josh Shields in the round of 12 last season, will look to build upon his best finish.
It’s interesting to Van Brill ranked at No. 9 at 157 pounds according to Flo Wrestling. There has been speculation that Van Brill could go to 165 pounds while freshman Stephan Glasgow could go 157 pounds. As of now, it looks like Glasgow is the favorite to start at 165, but we will wait until October when pre-season really hits the ground running.
When I look at Gravina, I see a hard nosed, tough, gritty, type of wrestler. That’s the way he’s always been, especially having to battle shoulder injuries for his entire collegiate career. He was slotted at No. 12 according to Flo Wrestling. Here’s what’s interesting, Penn State’s Bo Nickal moved up to 197 and ranked No. 1. So, new 184 No. 1 Myles Martin of Ohio State, is in a class all by himself. He’s that good.
Ideally, Gravina will have a chance at seven different spots on the podium, but he’ll have to get by guys like Max Dean of Cornell, Chip Ness of North Carolina and Ryan Preisch of Lehigh. Gravina has pulled off some big wins before, see his win over TJ Dudley of Nebraska a few seasons ago, but he has yet to do it consistently. If this is going to be the year of the “Stone Cold Eye-Tal-Ee-An” (I’m going to trademark that personal nickname), Gravina will have to string together those big wins and he’ll easily find himself on the podium.
Side note: head coach Scott Goodale is pumped to return to the RAC.
Side note two: The white singlets might be making more appearances this season.
Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the white singlets, Suriano and Scott DelVecchio donned them on the Saturday portion of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Suriano of course, wore it on the big stage, on national television, during his National Championship match.
Side note three: Seeing Suriano and Ashnault donning the white could be a precursor to seeing them in the finals at the 2019 NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh. Also, the singlets will definitely be used more this season. It’s actually kind of cool to see all three on display.
If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, keep calling to get them! Goodale might even say hello!
"It's not just a wrestling match anymore. It's turned into an event."@CoachGoodale wants you to purchase season tickets for the 2018-19 campaign, and he's even willing to hop on the phones to get you to the RAC.— Rutgers Wrestling (@RUWrestling) September 13, 2018
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