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Match Preview: No. 22 Rutgers vs. No. 19 Cornell

Rutgers has a great shot to propel themselves into the top-20 of the rankings

Friday night should be a good one in Piscataway. The No. 22 ranked Scarlet Knights (7-1, 2-1) have a great opportunity to knock off a top 20 ranked opponent at home, No. 19 Cornell (5-4).

Cornell has wrestled an extremely tough schedule so far, squaring off against five ranked opponents. Rutgers has wrestled just one top-25 team when they wrestled at Ohio State. Both teams have two common opponents in Ohio State and Michigan State.

This is a Big Red team that lost four starters due to Olympic Redshirt, just as Rutgers lost Nick Suriano to the same. This includes two time NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis (141), NCAA runner up Max Dean (184) and All-American Vito Arujau (125). Cornell also has lost two ranked wrestlers due to injury, No. 5 Ben Darmstadt (197) and No. 19 Brandon Womack (174).

The Cornell starting lineup features two ranked wrestlers, No.5 Chas Tucker (19-0) at 133 pounds and No. 23 Jonathan Loew (17-7) at 184 pounds. The Scarlet Knights enter tonight’s dual meet with four ranked wrestlers according to FloWrestling.

Tonight’s match will also feature the unveiling of the championship banners for Anthony Ashnault and Nick Suruiano in the RAC rafters, who were the school’s first ever national champions.

Now, let’s take a deep dive into tonight’s possible matchups.

125 - No. 15 Nicolas Aguilar (16-4) vs. Dominic LaJoie (11-11)

Advantage RU on paper. Aguilar has been wrestling great lately, and in order for Rutgers to secure the win tonight, he needs to take care of business against an inferior opponent.

133 - No. 11 Sammy Alvarez (17-4) vs. No. 5 Chas Tucker (19-0)

The feature bout of the evening. Once again, Sammy “The Bull” Alvarez has a fantastic opportunity to pick up another ranked win, and this one would be the most impressive of his young career. Alvarez has already beaten No. 6 Micky Phillippi of Pittsburgh, so a win over a top-5 opponent is next on his list. The RAC will surely be rocking for this one, look for the freshman to feed off that energy in order to pull off the upset over the undefeated senior.

141 - JoJo Aragona (9-4) vs. Noah Baughman (15-8)

A toss up match here, as the freshman Aragona will need to wrestle his best to earn a victory. Baughman is a senior with a few years of experience in the Cornell lineup at 125, but is now up at 141 in Diakomihalis’ absence. Expect a close match.

149 - Gerard Angelo (11-7) vs. Hunter Richard (13-7)

On paper, the third straight toss up match. Richard is a junior who is wrestling in the Cornell starting lineup for the first time in his career. In December, Richard lost a tight 12-9 decision to No. 6 Sammy Sasso of Ohio State, while Angelo lost 16-7 to Sasso last week. Expect the fourth straight freshman in the Scarlet Knight lineup to wrestle to a close decision, win or lose.

157 - Michael Van Brill (14-9) vs. Adam Santoro (8-10)

Advantage Rutgers. Van Brill needs to bounce back from surrendering a bizarre defensive pin against No. 21 Jacob Tucker of Michigan State last weekend, and pick up a win here against a sub .500 opponent.

165 - Brett Donner (13-9) vs. Jake Brindley (3-5) or Andrew Merola (5-6)

Donner will wrestle one of two guys that have been splitting time in the lineup. He will need to win a match that is advantage Rutgers on paper.

174 - Joseph Grello (5-4) vs. Milik Dawkins (9-7)

Dawkins is a senior seeing his first full time in the Cornell starting lineup. Grello is a returning NCAA qualifier. Bonus points here from Grello would be a massive advantage for Rutgers in the match.

184 - No. 25 Billy Janzer (13-4) vs. vs. No. 23 Jonathan Loew (17-7)

Janzer is coming off of the best weekend of his collegiate career with wins over Rocky Jordan of Ohio State and No. 20 Cameron Caffey of Michigan State. On paper, this is a toss up match between two ranked freshman. The way Janzer has been wrestling, especially in front of a home RAC crowd, I predict Janzer to pick up his second straight ranked win.

197 - No. 18 Jordan Pagano vs. Jonathon Fagen (6-4) or Jonah Barley (5-6)

With No. 5 Ben Darmstadt out due to injury, Pagano will have a backup. This is another great opportunity for Pagano to earn a bonus point for the Scarlet Knights, which will be crucial in deciding a winner between these two ranked teams.

HWT - Alex Esposito (14-9) vs. Brendan Furman (13-8)

Another toss up match, it will be interesting to see if Coach Goodale wrestles Esposito here or Matt Correnti, who split matches last week on the road in the absence of injured starter Christian Colucci.

MATCH PREDICTION - Rutgers 23, Cornell 9

I think the Scarlet Knights get it done easily, as the RAC is one of the toughest places to wrestle in the country. Rutgers wins at 125, 141, 157, 165, 174, 184 and 197 to claim seven out of ten bouts. If Cornell has a full lineup without injuries/Olympic Redshirt, it’s a much different match, but right now Rutgers is the more complete team.