The future is bright for Rutgers wrestling.
Three freshmen/red-shirt freshman picked up wins in Friday night’s dual meet against the No. 5 ranked Buckeyes of Ohio State, shouldering the load for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers lost the match 22-13, winning four bouts out of ten.
The freshman, Nicolas Aguilar (125), Sammy Alvarez (133) and Billy Janzer (184) all had their hands raised in the hostile Covelli Center during a ranked Big Ten Friday night match.
The match started at 141 pounds, which is the start of the meat and potatoes of Ohio State’s lineup. Blue chippers like No. 1 ranked Luke Pletcher (141), No. 6 ranked Sammy Sasso and No. 1 ranked Kollin Moore (197) all picked up bonus points by wrestling to a major decision victory.
Bonus points were in abundance for the Buckeyes, as they picked up four major decisions out of the six matches they won. The Scarlet Knights only won one match via the way of major decision.
Red-shirt junior Michael VanBrill put the first points on the board for Rutgers, picking up a hard fought 5-3 decision over Elijah Cleary at 157. As expected, Ohio State won four of the first five matches, heading into the intermission with a 15-3 lead.
The next five matches is where the Scarlet Knights felt they had the advantage, propelled by their talented freshman.
Right out of the gate from the intermission, red-shirt freshman Billy Janzer took to the mat to take on another red-shirt freshman, Rocky Jordan at 184. Jordan is the younger brother of Bo and Micah, former Ohio State wrestlers who have 7 All-American finishes between the two.
With under a minute left in the match, Janzer found himself trailing Jordan, 4-3. With 19 seconds left, he shot a single leg to the left side. Jordan sprawled to defend the shot, but Janzer was in deep.
After a brief struggle on the mat, Janzer was able to transition the shot to his feet, and finish the takedown with just three seconds left on the clock to earn a 5-4 win. A signature win to say the least, and most definitely the biggest so far for the red-shirt freshman from Delsea.
The next match the Scarlet Knights felt good about was at heavyweight. Even with starter Christian Colucci sidelined with a knee injury, Rutgers knew they had a chance going up against Ohio State heavyweight Gary Traub.
Head Coach Scott Goodale opted to bump up backup 197-pounder Matt Correnti to take on Straub, rather than Alex Esposito, the team’s current backup heavyweight in Colucci’s absence.
Correnti is no slouch, as he was a 2017 national qualifier and may soon be coming for Jordan Pagano’s job as the 197 pound starter. He wrestled Straub tough, forcing overtime with a last second escape, but ultimately was taken down in the second one minute overtime period to drop a 4-2 decision.
Even though the team score was out of reach at 22-6 heading into the evening’s final two bouts, Rutgers had to have left Columbus feeling good with two impressive performances from their freshman to close out the dual.
At 125, red-shirt freshman Nico Aguilar dominated Ohio State’s Malik Heinselman by winning 14-1. With the win, Aguilar is now 15-4 on the season including 2-0 in Big Ten duals.
In the final bout of the evening, true freshman No. 9 Sammy Alvarez continued to roll, picking up a decisive 6-1 decision over Jordan Decatur, another promising true freshman who came off of red-shirt to wrestle in Ohio State’s dual with Arizona State earlier in the week.
The 22-13 final score against a top five opponent is a positive step forward of the post-Ashnault era of the program. If Correnti could have pulled out the win in overtime, we’re looking at a much closer 19-16 final score, and a 5-5 split of matches.
Considering three of the four wins came from freshman on the road in a hostile environment, the Scarlet Knights outlook is bright.
Rutgers wrestling is back in action on Sunday at 1 p.m. against Michigan State.
141: 1/1/1 Luke Pletcher (OSU) over JoJo Aragona (RU) by major decision, 12-4; Ohio State leads, 4-0
149: 6/6/8 Sammy Sasso (OSU) over Gerard Angelo (RU) by major decision, 16-7; Ohio State leads, 8-0
157: Michael Van Brill (RU) over Elijah Cleary (OSU) by decision, 5-3; Ohio State leads, 8-3
165: 13/13/13 Ethan Smith (OSU) over Brett Donner (RU) by major decision, 14-3; Ohio State leads, 12-3
174: 9/9/8 Kaleb Romero (OSU) over NR/19/18 Joseph Grello (RU) by decision, 9-2; Ohio State leads, 15-3
184: Billy Janzer (RU) over NR/NR/26 Rocky Jordan (OSU) by decision, 5-4; Ohio State leads, 15-6
197: 1/1/1 Kollin Moore (OSU) over 19/17/20 Jordan Pagano (RU) by major decision, 20-9; Ohio State leads, 19-6
285: 19/NR/21 Gary Traub (OSU) over Matthew Correnti (RU) by decision (SV2), 4-2; Ohio State leads, 22-6
125: 17/14/14 Nicolas Aguilar (RU) over NR/NR/18 Malik Heinselman (OSU) by major decision, 14-1; Ohio State leads, 22-10
133: 9/11/9 Sammy Alvarez (RU) over. 16/NR/15 Jordan Decatur (OSU) by decision, 6-1; Ohio State wins, 22-13