No. 19 Cornell came into the RAC for a Friday night showdown on the mat between two ranked teams and left Piscataway with a 18-16 win over the No. 22 Scarlet Knights. Each team won five bouts, but Cornell earned three huge bonus points with a pin at 149 to clinch the match.
The match was won by the intermission. The momentum had been sucked out of the RAC after Rutgers dropped four critical bouts in a row at 141, 149, 157 and 165.
At 141, freshman JoJo Aragona found himself with a 4-2 lead and 30 seconds remaining in the match. Both wrestlers were on their feet, and Aragona was fending off a relentless attack from his Cornell opponent, Noah Baughman.
With 18 seconds left in the match, Baughman earned a takedown that he was so desperately working for, tying the match at 4 points apiece. Both wrestlers went out of bounds at the 13 second mark, warranting a restart at the center of the mat, Aragona down.
An escape for Aragona (worth one point) would almost certainly win the match with such little time left. Instead, Baughman hit a cheap tilt for two back points at the buzzer to win the match, 6-4. The first of four straight toss-up bouts that Cornell would win that would ultimately decide the dual meet.
After Aragona’s heart breaker, redshirt freshman Gerard Angelo stepped out onto the mat for his match at 149 pounds against Cornell’s Hunter Richard. Just like Aragona the bout before, Angelo found himself with a two point third period lead.
With Angelo leading 3-1 and 1:30 left in the match, Angelo shot in on a double leg takedown. Richard quickly bounced off of his but back to his feet, and when Angelo came up high around his head, Richard went low around the waist and hit a massive bear hug, sending Angelo to his back.
This is where the entire match was won. Richard finished off Angelo with a huge pin, earning six team points and giving Cornell a 12-3 lead.
“You can’t get pinned in college wrestling,” Rutgers Head Coach Scott Goodale said after the match. “We were winning a match in the third period and got pinned. That’s one guy, but that’s a big part of the dual meet and that’s not on Gerard he was wrestling really really well but you just can’t give up a fall there.”
At 157, Mike Van Brill dropped a 9-4 decision to Adam Santoro to give Cornell a 15-3 lead heading into the intermission.
In the first match after the intermission, Brett Donner of Rutgers lost a tight 5-3 decision to Jake Brinkley. This made the score an almost insurmountable 18-3 in favor of the Big Red with four matches to go.
“As far as the match goes, it’s a tale of two halves,” Goodale said. “We didn’t get it done down low, we got it done up top. We just got our butts really kicked down low.”
Rutgers then rattled off four straight wins, including another ranked win for redshirt freshman Billy Janzer at 184. Janzer took care of business against No. 19 Jonathan Loew, winning 10-6.
At heavyweight, Alex Esposito earned what Coach Goodale called “a big time win” by beating Cornell’s Brendan Furman. That was the final bout of the night, as Rutgers came back from an 18-3 deficit to finish the match with a 18-16 loss.
“It’s really a match I feel we let get away,” Goodale said after the match.
In the best match of the night between ranked wrestlers, No. 11 Sammy Alvarez dropped a thriller, losing 3-2 to undefeated senior No. 5 Chas Tucker.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Rutgers, as they will travel to State College on Sunday for what will be their toughest test of the season against No. 2 Penn State.