As the first dual meets of the season get closer and closer, the RU wrestling squad hasn’t locked in their starting lineup yet. We expect news of wrestle-offs/indicator matches soon, but Coach Goodale has a history of using the first semester to cement the lineup that will compete once the Big Ten schedule gets going in January. And with the amount of depth that Goodale has amassed on the banks, we are likely to see multiple RU entries at some weights at the Midlands Tournament in late December to let the boys hash it out if needed. Rutgers recently announced that the yearly media-day will take place on October 28th, so most of our information will be cemented then. This lineup preview will be broken down into three parts and we are starting with the “little” guys.
125: Likely Starter – #26 Dylan Shawver (Freshman)
Shawver gained the starting role at 125lbs late in the season last year, beating out 2020 NCAA qualifier Nico Aguilar. Aguilar has transferred out of the banks, so this spot looks to be comfortably in the grasp of Shawver for at least the upcoming season. Shawver had some bright moments during his short stint in the lineup last season, winning two matches in the Big Ten Tournament, including one over eventual All-American from Minnesota, Pat McKee. Shawver was highly recruited out of Elyria, OH and was ranked 8th at 126lbs coming out of high school.
There is likely to be competition on the banks at this weight in the coming years, though, as Rutgers recently landed the #1 ranked 126lber coming out of high school in Dean Peterson of St. John Vianney. Peterson is a two-time state champion and three-time finalist in his high school career. Great accomplishments on their own that are even more impressive when you learn that Peterson had to skip his senior season because of surgery on a deviated septum. Both Shawver and Peterson each have four years of eligibility remaining going into the season.
133: Likely Starter - #3 Sebastian Rivera (Grad Student)
This spot is Rivera’s as he looks to end his collegiate career on the highest note yet with an NCAA Championship. Rivera is a four-time All-American (3x via NCAA Tournament, 1x via NWCA) and a two-time Big Ten Champion. On top of that, he’s one of the few wrestlers who was able to figure out Iowa’s three-time National Champion Spencer Lee, besting him twice throughout his career. This season, Rivera will finally get to wrestle in front of a large NJ crowd while donning a Scarlet Knight singlet after last season’s fan-free experience. Rivera wrestled up at 141lbs last season finishing in 4th place and will be dropping back down to 133lbs for his final run.
Penn State’s returning champ Roman Bravo-Young and Oklahoma State’s runner up Daton Fix will be the main competition for Rivera, but he already has a 7-2 victory over Bravo-Young in the 2020 Big Ten Tournament. Rivera also recently competed at the UWW World Championships in Oslo, Norway where he placed 8th while representing Puerto Rico. Adding depth here will be incoming transfer and former NJ standout Nick Raimo. Raimo, a two-time NJ state champion and three-time finalist, spent the last two seasons at Arizona State but will bring four years of eligibility with him to the banks this upcoming season.
141: Likely Starter - #13 Sammy Alvarez (Sophomore)
Sammy Alvarez is moving up in weight this year, heading from 133 up to 141 and most wonder how he held 133 as long as he did. Alvarez has a long, stocky frame that will be well-suited up a weight without losing his signature “funk” that makes him so exciting. Alvarez has a low ranking here in my opinion, but he only competed in three matches last year (3-0) and didn’t enter the Big Ten/NCAA tournaments because of weight issues.
It may be hard for Alvarez to climb in the rankings early as he has just one ranked opponent in the first semester (#6 Zach Sherman of UNC on 11/27) but is scheduled to face seven ranked opponents once the Big Ten Schedule kicks in. Bucknell transfer David Campbell provides some depth here, but this should be all Alvarez, all the time.
To solidify a top ten finish, Rutgers will need big performances out of their lightweights. They should have an outside chance at two All-Americans between these three weights, with Rivera being a solid lock and Alvarez being right there on the fringe. Next week, we’ll feature the middleweights (149-165lbs) and get a good picture of what to expect there.