In the past, head coach Scott Goodale has not been a huge fan of the wrestle-offs to determine his lineup due to the familiarity of all of his members.
He’s used in season tournaments as a barometer for certain weights before, but with the 2019-20 season ready to kick off on November 2nd, many more questions for the lineup than in years’ past, Goodale is ready to have his guys go at it to determine these spots.
The wrestle-offs will be at 2pm on Saturday and closed to the public. The results will be released live via the Rutgers Wrestling Twitter page (@RUWrestling).
Here are the matchup’s for each weight and my picks for the ten varsity wrestlers:
Nico Aguilar vs. Richard Halal
Richard Halal vs. Malcolm Robinson
Malcolm Robinson vs. Nico Aguilar
-Interesting to see Robinson drop to 125 after being at 133 last season. He was originally recruited as a 133/141 pounder but was able to make the drop. Aguilar has been a favorite of mine to start once he completed a redshirt season. I’d say he has the nod in this round robin.
Starter: Nico Aguilar
Zach Firestone vs. Devon Britton
Shane Metzler vs. Sammy Alvarez
Winners to face off
-Firestone was unlucky with injuries last season but would’ve sat behind Nick Suriano who of course went onto become Rutgers first national champion. Metzler bumps up a weight after being last year’s starter at 125 while Alvarez, an incoming freshman who originally committed to NC State, also comes up a weight. While he could’ve gone 125, it looks like he made the decision to come up to a weight left vacant by Suriano’s decision to redshirt and train for the Olympics. I love the depth here, especially from the freshman Britton. However, I think this is Firestone’s weight to lose. I say he’ll face off with Alvarez for the spot. I would expect to see Britton and Alvarez redshirt after Saturday, but we know how injuries and changes can come out of nowhere in this sport.
Starter: Zach Firestone
JoJo Aragona vs. Andew Gapas
Andrew Gapas vs. Peter Lipari
Peter Lipari vs. JoJo Aragona
-Lipari, an NCAA qualifier last season, and Aragona, a top prospect, were the two expected to compete for this spot all along. This is a round robin but I’d expect Lipari and Aragona to be facing off for the spot at the end of the day. While Aragona would be exciting to see as a true freshman and has All-American/National Champion potential in his future, I think Lipari edges him out and attempts his run at Top 12/All-American in his final season on the banks.
Starter: Peter Lipari
Jake Benner vs. Gerard Angelo
Gerard Angelo vs. Nick Santos
Nick Santos vs. Jake Benner
-Benner is back to his natural weight after bouncing around last season due to injuries to other members of the roster. Angelo comes in as a transfer after originally being apart of the 2018 class to commit to Cornell. Santos has been banged up in his career but he’s a guy with a National Collegiate Open title as a freshman, compiling a 20-8 record. He is loved by the staff and I think he’s ready to breakout. Former Pennsylvania state champion and freshman Ryan Vulakh is currently sidelined with an injury and will be apart of this weight’s wrestle off for the time being.
Starter: Nick Santos
Robert Kanniard vs. Cody Harrison
Cody Harrison vs. Mike Van Brill
Mike Van Brill vs. Robert Kanniard
-Kanniard won a state title this past March and was expected to drop a few pounds to wrestle at this weight collegiately. He’ll compete with fellow freshman Harrison while they try to take the spot from season veteran Mike Van Brill, who enters his redshirt junior year. Van Brill is the favorite, but I can’t rule out Kanniard who is a beast. Talk about a hammer at the middleweights, Kanniard has that blue collar mentality. Van Brill dealt with some difficult weight cuts and injuries while being a starter and a reserve the last two seasons. Now, with no weight issues, he looks healthier than ever.
Starter: Mike Van Brill
-This weight is currently all out of wack. According to James Kratch of NJ Advance Media, sophomore Stephan Glasgow, the expected favorite for the spot, is currently suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules. Freshman Jackson Turley, who wrestled 182 in high school, was projected as a 165/174 pounder in college and could be an option here. He is currently sidelined with a minor injury along with Brett Donner. They will not wrestle due to precautionary reasons.
Joe Grello vs. Anthony Olivieri (x2)
-I mean, if they split matches, it’d be best out of three right? I expect Grello, who broke out near the end of last season and carried it through a solid NCAA Tournament, to be the guy and challenge for Top 12 at NCAA’s.
Starter: Joe Grello
Billy Janzer vs. Willie Scott (x2)
-If you look up the definition of a grinder in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Scott. Scott has wrestled up and the down the lineup between 165-197 throughout his career and never complains. Unfortunately, he was hit with a late season injury and didn’t compete in the postseason, but did show flashes last season. I’d like to say his experience gives him the advantage but Janzer took a redshirt year to prepare for the post-Nick Gravina era. Janzer is a handful, strong, athletic, and has true hammer potential. This is going to be the most exciting matchup to watch.
Starter: Billy Janzer
Jordan Pagano vs. Kyle Lightner
Kyle Lightner vs. Matt Correnti
Matt Correnti vs. Jordan Pagano
-This one is fascinating. The return of Pagano, who was granted a sixth year, means he’s grown and put on some additional muscle. He’ll try to take the spot from incumbent starter Correnti, while Lightner drops from heavyweight to 197. Goodale has said in the past that Lightner is a project but a very intriguing prospect. He won a state title as a junior in high school but sat out senior year due to injury. It’s been awhile since he’s been seen in a varsity lineup. This weight is topsy turvy. I don’t know where to go (I’m making a pick anyway). Correnti and Pagano are previous NCAA qualifiers so they’ll have the edge.
Starter: Matt Correnti
Christian Colucci vs. Alex Esposito (x2)
-Colucci is the incumbent starter and enters his final year of eligibility after spending his first two at Lehigh. He was a solid 15-13 last year, just on the outskirts of NCAA’s. He was ranked in the pre-season Top 25 according to Flo Wrestling along with Lipari and Grello. Esposito was 11-5 during his redshirt season and last year as a redshirt freshman went 5-6, including 2-2 at Midlands.
Starter: Christian Colucci
Starting Lineup Predictions:
125 - Nico Aguilar
133 - Zach Firestone
141 - Peter Lipari
149 - Nick Santos
157 - Mike Van Brill
165 - TBD
174 - Joe Grello
184 - Billy Janzer
197 - Matt Correnti
HWT - Christian Colucci