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#12 Rutgers Wrestling Sweeps “Garden State Grapple” Event, Opens Season 8-0

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The squad went 2-0 on the day, including a 28-9 victory over #18 North Carolina.

Mike VanBrill
Rutgers Athletic Communications/Kostas Lymperopoulos

Rutgers Wrestling completed a sweep of the “Garden State Grapple” event, going 2-0 on the day. The squad took out both Hofstra and #18 UNC to start the season 8-0 for the first time in seven years.

Rutgers Wrestling turned in another early season dominant performance, taking care of the Pride of Hofstra University by a final score of 35-6 in the first match of the “Garden State Grapple” event at the Prudential Center in Newark. Led by bonus points at 133, 141, 149, and 174lbs, the match was out of hand early.

At 125lbs, #23 Dylan Shawver was close to scoring a major decision over Hofstra’s Jacob Moon, but was held to three team points, winning a 8-1 decision.

#12 Sammy Alvarez dispatched Hofstra’s Dylan Acevedo in the opening moments of their 133lbs match, scoring a quick fall about 20 seconds in. Not to be outdone, #4 Sebastian Rivera toyed with a clearly outmatched Justin Hoyle of Hofstra throughout the first period, scoring takedowns at will before gaining a fall via a tilt late in the period at 141lbs. Rivera looked incredibly strong and was basically tossing Hoyle around the mat.

#25 Mike VanBrill was up next in the bonus parade, utilizing two beautiful roll-though tilts to gain a 10-0 advantage in the first period over Mike Leandrou, eventually securing the tech-fall early in the second. Fans may have had flashbacks of former NCAA Champion and now Coach Anthony Ashnault while watching VanBrill hit those tilts with relative ease. Al Desantis stepped in at 157lbs and beat his opponent, 8-2

At 165lbs, Andrew Clark’s early season struggles continued, but this time the outcome was controversial. Winning late, Clark was awarded a takedown near the edge of the mat, but it was quickly waved off by the official. His opponent Ricky Stamm then got into virtually the same position Clark was in and was awarded a takedown. Fans waited for the call to be waived off again but this time the takedown was confirmed. Clark almost was able to reverse Stamm as time expired, but it was not to be.

The crowd was barely able to take a breath before the next contest was underway with Connor O’Neill taking his opponent down, working a tilt, and pinning Ericson Velesquez in the opening moments of his match at 174lbs.

After decision wins at 184 and 197lbs respectively for Rutgers, the marquee match of the dual was on as #23 Boone McDermott took on Hofstra’s #20 Zack Knighton-Ward. Unfortunately for Scarlet Knight fans, this match was all Knighton-Ward. After a scoreless first period, the Hofstra heavyweight utilized multiple takedowns and rode McDermott for most of the match, winning 6-1.

In the second match of the “Garden State Grapple” event, the #12 Rutgers squad took on the #18 North Carolina Tar Heels. While Rutgers secured the win 28-9, it was apparent from the beginning that UNC wanted most of their top ranked wrestlers to beat the late night, post-match Newark traffic and had no intention of putting together a winning effort.

Potential ranked matchups at 133, 141, and 149lbs were all not to be as UNC rolled out backups at 133 and 149, while forfeiting altogether at 141lbs. It was disappointing for the fans in attendance (and for the sport overall) that were hoping to see some elite level matchups, but the consolation prize was another dominant Rutgers performance.

#23 Dylan Shawver continued his early season success, securing a win in overtime on takedown off of a shuck on the edge of the mat, besting UNC’s Spencer Moore, 7-5. Rutgers’ #12 ranked at 133lbs Sammy Alvarez then took out NJ native Joe Heilmann, 6-2, followed by a forfeit victory for #4 at 141lbs, Sebastian Rivera. The crowd realized at that point that UNC wasn’t going to send out their stud wrestlers and the boo-birds could be heard throughout the Prudential Center.

At 149lbs, #25 Mike VanBrill was ready to take on UNC’s #16 ranked Zach Sherman, but instead got UNC’s unranked Mason Phillips, whom he dispatched easily via major decision, 12-1. UNC did send out their defending national champion, Austin O’Connor at 157lbs to take on a game Rob Kanniard of Rutgers. Kanniard was able to score the opening and closing takedowns, but O’Connor otherwise outmatched him here, winning 12-6.

After close decision losses from Andrew Clark at 165 and Connor O’Neill at 174lbs, #5 John Poznanski stepped onto the mat and the crowd was anticipating a possible ranked matchup against UNC’s #23 Gavin Kane. But Head Coach Coleman Scott and company of the Tar Heels decided against it again, sending out unranked Mark Chaid, who was pin slayed by Poznanski in the second period.

At 197lbs, early season OTB MVP Greg Bulsak showed why he’ll be a force at the weight all season long, muscling his way to an 8-2 decision over #26 ranked Max Shaw of UNC. After an early takedown from Shaw, it was all Bulsak.

And in the final match of the evening, heavyweight Boone McDermott bounced back nicely from his loss earlier in the evening, utilizing several slick moves and a tough ride to take out Brandon Whitman of UNC via decision.

Another weekend, another multiple victory day for the Scarlet Knight wrestling team, who now are 8-0 on the season. The Rutgers squad won the match count 15-5 on the day and looked great overall. It was disappointing that UNC deprived the fans of those elite matchups, but the RU faithful must be happy with the early season results.

The team can next been seen in action Friday, December 3rd down in Washington DC against American University.

No. 12 Rutgers 35, Hofstra 6

125: 23/HM Dylan Shawver (RU) over Jacob Moon (HOF) by dec., 8-1; RU leads, 3-0

133: 12/24 Sammy Alvarez (RU) over Dylan Acevedo (HOF) by fall (0:52); RU leads, 9-0

141: 4/3 Sebastian Rivera (RU) over Justin Hoyle (Hofstra) by fall (2:37); RU leads, 15-0

149: 25/HM Michael VanBrill (RU) over Mike Leandrou (HOF) by TF, 17-0; RU leads, 20-0

157: Al DeSantis (RU) over Joe McGinty (HOF) by dec., 8-2; RU leads, 23-0

165: Ricky Stamm (HOF) over Andrew Clark (RU) by dec., 4-3; RU leads, 23-3

174: Connor O’Neill (RU) over Ericson Velesquez (HOF) by fall (0:58); RU leads, 29-3

184: 5/5 John Poznanski (RU) over Charles Small (HOF) by dec., 8-2; RU leads, 32-3

197: 14/16 Greg Bulsak (RU) over 29/HM Trey Rodgers (HOF) by dec., 8-3; RU leads, 35-3

HWT: 20/23 Zack Knighton-Ward (HOF) over 23/HM Boone McDermott (RU) by dec., 6-1; RU wins, 35-6

No. 12 Rutgers 28, No. 14 North Carolina 9

125: 23/HM Dylan Shawver (RU) over Spencer Moore (UNC) by SV1, 7-5; RU leads, 3-0

133: 12/24 Sammy Alvarez (RU) over Joe Heilmann (UNC) by dec., 6-2; RU leads, 6-0

141: 4/3 Sebastian Rivera (RU) wins by forfeit; RU leads, 12-0

149: 25/HM Michael VanBrill (RU) over Mason Phillips (UNC) by MD, 12-1; RU leads, 16-0

157: 7/3 Austin O’Connor (UNC) over Robert Kanniard (RU) by dec., 12-6; RU leads, 16-3

165: Joey Mazzara (UNC) over Andrew Clark (RU) by dec., 7-3; RU leads, 16-6

174: 15/16 Clay Lautt (UNC) over Connor O’Neill (RU) by dec., 4-0; RU leads, 16-9

184: 5/5 John Poznanski (RU) over Mark Chaid (UNC) by fall (3:10); RU leads, 22-9

197: 14/16 Greg Bulsak (RU) over 26/HM Max Shaw (UNC) by dec., 8-2; RU leads, 25-9

HWT: 23/HM Boone McDermott (RU) over Brandon Whitman (UNC) by dec. 9-3; RU wins, 28-9