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No. 18 Rutgers welcomes No. 20 Princeton for a New Jersey Clash: Wrestling Preview

Anthony Ashnault, Matt Kolodzik highlight in-state rivalry

Anthony Ashnault shakes the hand of Matt Kolodzik after their bout at the 2017 NCAA Championships
Roy DeBoer

It’s Super Bowl Sunday...inside the RAC.

Forget the big game between the Patriots and Rams, Anthony Ashnault and Matt Kolodzik, No. 2 and No. 1 at 149 lbs. respectively, are wrestling for the fifth time in their careers.

The two stars have split their previous four bouts, with Ashnault winning the most recent at the 2017 NCAA Quarterfinals, when they were both 141 lbs.

There’s also been some talking to say the least, mostly from the Princeton side of things as head coach Scott Goodale has kept his words limited and Ashnault only merely responded earlier in the week.

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Besides the main event, there is still a dual meet going on between the Scarlet Knights and Tigers. Rutgers will look to rebound after a lackluster performance vs. Nebraska and keep the New Jersey trophy away from their rival.

Let’s break it down.

Preview and Predictions:

125: Shane Metzler vs. No. 10 Pat Glory

-Glory as a true freshman has been phenomenal. Metzler is going to be up against it once again, having already faced No. 14 Zeke Moisey of Nebraska on Friday. Rutgers will need to save bonus points here.

Prediction: Glory by MAJOR DECISION

133: No. 4 Nick Suriano vs. Jonathon Gomez

-Rutgers will need bonus points here to combat the 125 matchup on paper and Suriano is certainly capable of delivering in the clutch. He should roll through here and get the Scarlet Knights to the first swing match of the afternoon.

Prediction: Suriano by MAJOR DECISION

141: Peter Lipari vs. Marshall Keller

-This match could go a long way in determining how well Lipari can fare at the Big Ten Tournament and should help him with seeding points, should he qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Keller is a close matchup on paper and the common opponents record stands at 3-5 for Lipari and 3-7 for Keller. This early bout could ultimately be a deciding factor in the dual meet.

Prediction: Keller by DECISION

149: No. 2 Anthony Ashnault vs. No. 1 Matt Kolodzik

-Ah yes, the big kahuna. In what could be a NCAA Finals preview, Ashnault and Kolodzik boast one of the best rivalries in college wrestling. Although Kolodzik is originally from Ohio, he’s representing New Jersey on the big stage wrestling at Ivy League Princeton, and of course Ashnault being one of Jersey’s favorite sons.

The offensive firepower has been on display for Ashnault this season, who has embraced the bump up in weight with strength and speed. Kolodzik is known more as a defensive wrestler and can really control guys on top. He doesn’t get scored on much, but Ashnault has scored every time they’ve wrestled, including a takedown and tilt during their NCAA bout in 2017.

This is arguably the biggest showdown of the regular season in any weight class and all eyes will be glued to the mat when Ashnault and Kolodzik meet in the center circle. Expect fireworks, gasps and a fantastic finish. Someone is going to walk out of the RAC with their first loss of the season.

Prediction: Ashnault by DECISION

157: No. 17 John Van Brill vs. Quincy Monday

-Van Brill has wrestled the older Monday, Kennedy, of North Carolina, but he has since moved up to 165. The younger Monday does provide similar challenges in terms of his length and ability to scramble. Van Brill is 6-1 vs. common opponents while Monday is 3-4. On paper, it’s advantage Van Brill. This one’s going to be close.

Prediction: Van Brill by DECISION

165: Stephan Glasgow vs. Dale Tiongson

-We’ll roll with Tiongson going for Princeton here, although Leonard Merkin could bump up as he has before. Glasgow is 2-1 vs. common opponents, while Tiongson is 1-4, but three of those losses were to Rider’s Jesse Dellavecchia, 14-2, by pin, and 6-2, respectively. Glasgow dropped a 5-4 decision back in December, the match he initially injured his knee.

Prediction: Glasgow by DECISION

174: Joe Grello vs. Travis Stefanik

-These two wrestled back at the Midlands Championships in Decemeber, with Stefanik edging out Grello 3-2. Since Grello seems to wrestle close in pretty much all of his matches, he’ll have a shot here at some payback. Although his health is in question due to wrestling banged up the previous few matches. Sitting on Friday vs. Nebraska might’ve been the wise decision to keep him fresh for this one.

Prediction: Stefanik by DECISION

184: Nick Gravina vs. Kevin Parker

-Because of inactivity, Gravina was removed from the Flo Wrestling rankings. He weighed in Friday night before the Nebraska match, warmed up, but did not wrestle. While Gravina’s status has been one of the more alarming issues for the Scarlet Knights, him weighing in and having the potential to wrestle vs. Nebraska might indicate he is good to go in a very important meet vs. an in-state rival.

We’ll roll with Gravina for now, considering Willie Scott seems to be on the mend in the meantime. With the original starter back in, Rutgers does have the advantage on paper, but will Gravina’s health be a cause for concern?

Prediction: Gravina by DECISION

197: Matt Correnti vs. No. 3 Patrick Brucki

-If it weren’t for Penn State’s Bo Nickal, Brucki would have a really nice shot at taking home an NCAA title this season. Correnti is going to need something special for the upset here.

Prediction: Brucki by MAJOR DECISION

HWT: Christian Colucci vs. Obinna Ajah

-Ajah has been the guy lately for a revolving door at heavyweight for Princeton. Colucci will have the advantage here being the more skilled wrestler. Being at home doesn’t hurt either.

Prediction: Colucci by DECISION

Final Score: Rutgers over Princeton 19-14

Bonus material

When Ashnault went off social media this season, this is all I could think of as he prepares for Kolodzik and the rest of 149 at NCAA’s: