No. 12 Rutgers Wrestling continued their winning ways, stopping the Black Knights of Army West Point 26-9 to begin the season 10-0, the best start in program history.
The vibe for the raucous 6,365 fans on hand at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway was set early as the wrestlers were introduced to the song “Du Hast” by German metalcore band, Rammstein, one of the angrier sounding songs out there.
Rutgers Field Hockey Coach (Big Ten Coach of the Year) Meredith Civico was the honorary match captain after a stellar season that saw the team win the Big Ten Championship.
The Rutgers wrestlers wore their digicam white and gray singlets, appropriate on several levels, as it was Military Appreciation Night here at the arena. Once the action got started, it was all Rutgers early and late.
At 125lbs, No. 24 Dylan Shawver started fast, scoring a quick takedown off Army’s Ryan Chauvin. Shawver briefly looked for a tilt, but Chauvin was out after about 20 seconds. Chauvin of Army then answered back with a takedown of his own, and it was Shawver who was out quick this time, knotting the score at 3-3 after the first period.
Chauvin picked bottom to start the second and Shawver put in a longer ride, getting his riding time up over a minute in the process. Chauvin eventually escaped and then Shawver worked a go-behind to secure two more points. Chauvin was out quick again and the score was tied 5-5 heading into the third.
Rutgers’ Shawver chose bottom for the third and scored a reversal. Chauvin escaped, but Shawver would hold on for the decision win, 8-6.
Next, Rutgers sent out their No. 12 ranked Sammy Alvarez to take on Dominic Carone of Army at 133lbs. Alvarez is the epitome of the classic quote from wrestling legend Dan Gable, “I shoot, I score, he shoots, I score,” as Carone had no answers for the scrambling ability of Alvarez.
On top of being virtually impossible for Carone to score on, Alvarez was able to secure five takedowns of his own, on his way to a 17-4 major decision victory. Alvarez has looked unstoppable after suffering an upset loss during the season opening quad meet back in early November.
Our first ranked matchup of the night occurred at 141lbs as All-American No. 4 Sebastian Rivera squared off against Army’s No. 29 ranked Corey Shie. Rivera worked two takedowns and a mean armbar that almost ripped Shie’s arms off for the 8-1 lead after the first period.
In the second, Rivera worked a quick escape and then started tossing Shie all over the mat, eventually securing a takedown. He worked a tilt for four more back points to take a 15-1 lead after two. Needing only a single point for the technical fall, Rivera showed off some terrific edge wrestling, using a limp arm to get out of Shie’s defense and gain the takedown and the win, 17-1.
No. 21 Mike VanBrill was ducked by yet another ranked opponent as Army decided against sending out their 24th ranked 149lber PJ Ogunsanya and instead opted to send out backup Zach Keal. VanBrill started off with a quick takedown and rode out the rest of the period, stacking 2:46 of riding time after the first.
VanBrill strung together a pair of takedowns in the second and third and was on the verge of securing a major decision with a ride out, but gave up an escape and takedown late, still winning 8-3.
The second ranked contest of the night was at 157lbs where Rutgers sent out No. 32 ranked Rob Kanniard to take on Army’s No. 29 Markus Hartman. Kanniard appeared to struggle with Hartman’s length throughout most of the match.
There were lots of scrambling and stalemates, but Hartman was able to take Kanniard down twice en route to a 6-1 decision, giving Army their first win of the dual. That result brought us to intermission with Rutgers leading 15-3 after five matches.
At 165lbs, Andrew Clark of Rutgers was looking to build on his tough win against American from last week, but Army’s Dalton Harkins had other plans. A close match that saw Harkins controlling most of the positions to go up 3-0 heading to the third period where Clark chose to start in the neutral position. Harkins displayed solid defense on a litany of shots from Clark, but eventually relented and gave up a late takedown, ending the match in Army’s favor, 4-2.
Unfortunately, what should’ve been our fourth ranked contest of the dual wasn’t meant to be as Rutgers All-American No. 16 Jackson Turley and Army’s No. 25 Ben Pasiuk are apparently both banged up.
Instead, it was Connor O’Neill up against Army’s Clayton Fielden at 174lbs. O’Neill looked outmatched early, as Fielden had answers for most of what O’Neill was throwing at him.
Heading into the 3rd period, it was 5-1 in favor of Fielden and he was in the top position when the action began. It took O’Neill about 50 seconds to escape (time he could’ve used back later in the period) but was able to get in deep on a double leg almost immediately after getting out.
Fielden went into full scramble mode and appeared to have O’Neill dead to rights under him, but O’Neill was able to find his base and gain the late takedown. Down by two points (three including riding time) with short time left, O’Neill opted to go for the turn attempt and almost had Fielden to his back, but it wasn’t enough as Fielden hung on to win 5-3.
Up at 184lbs, Army was riding high after winning the last three matches, but they were about to run into the brick wall that is Rutgers’ All-American No. 5 ranked John Poznanski.
No. 30 Brad Laughlin of Army hung tough for the first period, trailing only by two points, but it was all Poznanski from there. Poznanski chose down to start the second and was able to quickly reverse Laughlin when the latter got way too high on a leg-ride attempt—and then the takedown clinic was on.
Poznanski scored four more takedowns in the match, including one with five seconds remaining that secured the major decision victory, 13-4. Poznanski’s record mirrors that of the team, as he has competed in every dual going 10-0 while securing bonus points in six of those matches.
The final ranked matchup of the night was at 197lbs and featured Rutgers No. 13 ranked Greg Bulsak taking on Army’s No. 27 JT Brown. It was an exciting start that saw Bulsak almost take Brown to his back from neutral, but Brown was able to squirm out and get a takedown.
Bulsak instantly reversed Brown and after a quick ride, Brown proceeded to reverse (re-reverse?) Bulsak. Bulsak then escaped and the two had another scramble near the edge of the mat where Bulsak showed off his technical acumen, getting two points off a leg cradle type maneuver as time expired in the first.
It was 5-4 in favor of Bulsak heading into the second and the Rutgers wrestler chose bottom to start the period. He was out within 20 seconds and the two again entered into an extended scramble that again saw Bulsak gain the advantage and the takedown.
Bulsak then went to work on top, wrenching Brown over for what appeared to be a fall several times, but only four back points were rewarded. The period ended with Bulsak leading 12-4 and Brown chose a neutral start for the third period. Brown was in on a low single early, but Bulsak was able to flatten him out and get behind for another takedown.
After a couple of stall calls on Brown, Bulsak secured the 16-4 major decision victory and continued his stellar start to the season.
At 285lbs, we were given a classic heavyweight match as Rutgers No. 24 ranked Boone McDermott and Army’s Ben Sullivan kept the scoring to a minimum, each gaining only an escape point in regulation. As overtime began, it seemed Boone found a second gear and was in on a standing single and got behind Sullivan almost immediately off the whistle. McDermott was then able to wrestle Sullivan down to the ground, gaining the takedown and victory, 3-1.
Rutgers Wrestling won the match count 7-3 and continues to impress as the early part of the season comes to an end. Army falls to 0-4 as they have faced a schedule full of pain to begin their season.
Rutgers is now off until the always daunting Midlands Tournament that’ll take place December 29th and 30th. The Midlands website isn’t very user friendly, but it can be assumed the number one team in all the land is guaranteed to be there, as Iowa always attends.
Rutgers 26, Army 9
125: No. 24 Dylan Shawver (RU) OVER Ryan Chauvin (Army) by dec., 8-6
133: No. 12 Sammy Alvarez (RU) OVER Dominic Carone (Army) by MD, 17-4
141: No. 4 Sebastian Rivera (RU) OVER No. 29 Corey Shie (Army) by TF
149: No. 21 Mike VanBrill (RU) OVER Zach Keal (Army) by dec., 8-3
157: No. 29 Markus Hartman (Army) OVER Rob Kanniard (RU) by dec., 6-1
165: Dalton Harkins (Army) OVER Andrew Clark (RU) by dec., 4-2
174: Clayton Fielden (Army) OVER Connor O’Neill (RU) by dec., 5-3
184: No. 5 John Poznanski (RU) OVER No. 30 Brad Laughlin (Army) by MD, 13-4
197: No. 13 Greg Bulsak (RU) OVER No. 27 JT Brown (Army) by MD, 17-4
HWT: No. 25 Boone McDermott (RU) OVER Ben Sullivan (Army) by SV1, 3-1