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2021 MatMen Open Preview

No. 12 Rutgers Wrestling will compete in the two-day open tournament this week.

Syndication: Asbury Park Press Peter Ackerman / USA TODAY NETWORK

No. 12 Rutgers Wrestling will compete at the 2021 MatMen Open at the Now Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois on Wednesday and Thursday this week. The Scarlet Knights enter this tournament after the annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships were cancelled by host school Northwestern early last week due to the recent COVID-19 surge.

The MatMen Open came together quickly and will still feature an incredibly strong field of teams and wrestlers. Including Rutgers, at least 10 ranked Division 1 squads have committed to sending at least a partial roster to the event, with over 75 individually ranked wrestlers set to compete.

This tournament is the first real chance for Rutgers to show how strong the lineup is top to bottom and fans should be excited about all the potential for ranked matchups. Below we have a breakdown of the attached Rutgers’ entries at each weight and the ranked competitors they could face throughout the two-day tournament.

I left the teams that are only sending partial rosters off the preview unless I saw confirmation of who is attending. Also note this is an open tournament, so there will be unattached wrestlers not officially representing their schools in the field as well.

I should also note that none of the entries listed below are confirmed and at the time of publishing it’s appearing that many teams are only sending partial rosters, including Rutgers.

125lbs - Rutgers Entry: No. 25 Dylan Shawver (9-0)

Ranked Competitors:

No. 2 Patrick Glory of Princeton

No. 6 Eric Barnett of Wisconsin

No. 7 Devin Schroder of Purdue

No. 10 Brody Teske of Northern Iowa

No. 26 Gage Curry of Pitt

No. 27 Jacob Moran of Indiana

No. 29 Justin Cardini of Illinois

No. 30 Antonio Lorenzo of Cal Poly

No. 31 Anthony Molton of Campbell

No. 33 Ryan Miller of Penn

Thoughts and Predictions:

Rutgers’ No. 25 Dylan Shawver enters the tournament with an unblemished record, but that will most likely come to an end here. No. 2 Patrick Glory of Princeton has looked dominant in limited competition this year, and I think this is his tournament to lose.

How Shawver competes against his higher ranked foes here could be a great indicator of where he’s at among his peers, but he will be in the trenches no matter what seed he gets. I think Shawver places anywhere from 5th to 8th.

133lbs - Rutgers Entry: No. 12 Sammy Alvarez (7-1)

Ranked Competitors:

No. 6 Micky Phillippi of Pitt

No. 7 Lucas Byrd of Illinois

No. 13 Michael Colaiocco of Penn

No. 19 Brock Hudkins of Indiana

No. 23 Kyle Burwick of Wisconsin

No. 32 Kyle Biscoglia of Northern Iowa

No. 33 Matt Ramos of Purdue

Thoughts and Predictions:

No. 12 Sammy Alvarez has a legitimate shot of winning this tournament if he wrestles like he has for the majority of the season so far. He owns a win over No. 6 Micky Phillippi (albeit from two seasons ago) and could see him again in the semi-finals if the seeding goes as I think it will.

Illinois’ Lucas Byrd placed 5th at the national tournament last year and will be a tough test for Alvarez should the two face off. I see Alvarez placing Top 3 here with a good shot of bringing home the title.

Of note, Rutgers will also be entering Joey Olivieri at 133lbs who is 9-1 while competing in open competitions during his redshirt season.

141lbs - Rutgers Entry: No. 4 Sebastian Rivera (8-0)

Ranked Competitors:

No. 5 Dylan Duncan of Illinois

No. 14 Parker Filius of Purdue

No. 19 Darren Miller of Bucknell

No. 24 Cole Matthews of Pitt

No. 25 Cayden Rooks of Indiana

No. 27 Lawrence Saenz of Cal Poly

No. 29 Cael Happel of Northern Iowa

No. 31 Corey Shie of Army West Point

No. 32 Carmen Ferrante of Penn

Thoughts and Predictions:

Sebastian Rivera should be adding a MatMen Open Title to his litany of career accomplishments when the tournament is over as I expect him to run through most of the competition here as he has done all year.

Illinois No. 5 Dylan Duncan has yet to wrestle this season and may be up at 149lbs. Rivera also owns a 22-6 tech-fall victory over No. 14 Parker Filius from last year’s Big Ten Tournament. Rivera all the way here.

149lbs - Rutgers Entry: Al Desantis (4-3)

Ranked Competitors:

No. 10 Josh Heil of Campbell

No. 11 Austin Gomez of Wisconsin

No. 18 Legend Lamer of Cal Poly

No. 23 PJ Ogunsanya of Army West Point

No. 27 Anthony Artalona of Penn

Thoughts and Predictions:

The normal starter at 149lbs No. 19 Mike VanBrill will not be traveling to the tournament, so the team looks to Al Desantis.

Wisconsin’s No. 11 Austin Gomez is a stud wrestler who’s dealt with concussion issues throughout his career, but appears to be in a good shape for this season.

Of note, Rutgers will also be entering true freshman Tony White, who has been very impressive during his redshirt season so far (14-1).

157lbs - Rutgers Entry: No. 29 Rob Kanniard (5-3)

Ranked Competitors:

No. 5 Quincy Monday of Princeton

No. 10 Kendall Coleman of Purdue

No. 20 Doug Zopf of Penn

No. 27 Markus Hartman of Army West Point

No. 28 Elijah Cleary of Pitt

Thoughts and Predictions:

No. 29 Rob Kanniard has had an up and down season for Rutgers so far, but he gets a chance here to turn some heads and try to pull off some upsets.

No. 5 Quincy Monday came home with some big wins at the CKLV tournament that took place in early December, falling only to No. 1 ranked Ryan Deakin of Northwestern.

Anything better than a 5th place finish here would be huge for Kanniard, as he looks to build some momentum heading into the second semester.

165lbs - Rutgers Entry: Andrew Clark (7-8)

Ranked Competition:

No. 2 Evan Wick of Cal Poly

No. 8 Jake Wentzel of Pitt

No. 14 Phil Conigliaro of Harvard

No. 15 Zach Hartman of Bucknell

No. 17 Dean Hamiti of Wisconsin

No. 18 Izzak Olejnik of Northern Illinois

No. 21 Danny Braunagel of Illinois

No. 22 Austin Yant of Northern Iowa

No. 29 Lucas Revano of Penn

No. 32 Dalton Harkins of Army West Point

Thoughts and Predictions:

No matter how you draw it up, this is going to be a tough day for Andrew Clark, but it will also be a great opportunity to wrestle some strong competition.

Cal Poly’s Evan Wick is a big favorite here and already has a win over last year’s national champion, Shane Griffith from Stanford, earlier this season. I expect Wick to take the title here relatively easily.

The fight for 2nd through 8th is where the real competition will take place. I don’t see Clark placing in this field, but hopefully he can pull off some upsets and have a good showing.

174lbs - Rutgers Entry: No. 16 Jackson Turley (0-1)

Ranked Competition:

No. 10 Adam Kemp of Cal Poly

No. 18 Andrew McNally of Wisconsin

No. 19 Austin Murphy of Campbell

No. 21 Nick Icontrera of Penn

No. 25 Gerrit Nijenhuis of Purdue

No. 27 Ben Pasiuk of Army West Point

No. 29 Joshua Kim of Harvard

No. 30 Mason Kaufmann of Northern Illinois

Thoughts and Predictions:

No. 16 Jackson Turley is traveling with the team so we should get to see him in action for the first time since falling in the Clarion dual back on November 13th. Turley is an electric wrestler when healthy and could produce a solid showing at the MatMen Open.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Turley is on a match-count for this tournament because he has so little mat time on the season.

A top-8 placing for Turley isn’t the most desirable outcome, but it may be the most we can expect as he gets his wrestling legs under him.

184lbs - Rutgers Entry: No Entry

Ranked Competition:

No. 2 Myles Amine of Michigan (possibly)

No. 4 Parker Keckeisen of Northern Iowa

No. 6 Bernie Truax of Cal Poly

No. 7 Brit Wilson of Northern Illinois

No. 9 Donnell Washington of Indiana

No. 19 Zac Braunagel of Illinois

No. 21 Travis Stefanik of Princeton

No. 22 Max Lyon of Purdue

No. 24 Chris Weiler of Wisconsin

No. 25 Caleb Hopkins of Campbell

No. 30 Brad Laughlin of Army West Point

No. 31 Gregg Harvey of Pitt

UR: Mark Hall, Former National Champ from Penn State

Thoughts and Predictions:

No entry for Rutgers at this weight as John Poznanski won’t be traveling with the team.

197lbs - Rutgers Entry - No. 12 Greg Bulsak (8-0)

Ranked Competiton:

No. 2 Nino Bonaccorsi of Pitt

No. 15 Thomas Penola of Purdue

No. 17 Luke Stout of Princeton

No. 25 Matt Wroblewski of Illinois

No. 26 Braxton Amos of Wisconsin

No. 27 JT Brown of Army West Point

Thoughts and Predictions:

Rutgers’s Greg Bulsak has been smothering his competition all season and I expect more of the same early on at the MatMen Open.

No. 26 Braxton Amos is a Junior World Champion but fell to Hofstra’s Trey Rodgers, whom Bulsak dispatched 8-3. I still think that would be a fun matchup as both are powerful but quick wrestlers.

If Bulsak can muscle his way to the finals, he’ll likely meet Nino Bonaccosri of Pitt, who was the runner-up at this weight at last year’s national tournament. I like Bulsak to make it to the finals here and it would be fun to see what he can do against top competition like Bonaccorsi.

285lbs - Rutgers Entry: No. 26 Boone McDermott (7-1)

Ranked Competition:

No. 5 Trent Hilger of Wisconsin

No. 25 Taye Ghadiali of Campbell

No. 28 Jake Slinger of Pitt

UR: Yaraslav Slavikouski of Harvard

Thoughts and Predictions:

Rutgers’ Boone McDermott has had some exciting moments on the mat for the squad already this season and looks to build on them here.

Harvard’s Yaraslav Slavikouski isn’t ranked on Intermat at the moment, but is coming off an impressive performance at the CKLV tournament earlier this month.

Hilger should take the title here, and I expect Boone to finish top 5 if he wrestles his best.

Because this is an open tournament, I’m not sure that they will be keeping official team scores, but if they do there could be a team title in the future for Rutgers Wrestling.

They are the highest ranked team entered that is sending a full squad and it will be up to them to cement those ranks.

This tournament could be a great building block for the Scarlet Knights as they head into the always arduous Big Ten schedule that awaits in the coming weeks.

The action begins tomorrow, December 29th at 10:00AM and will be streamed on the Illinois MatMen Rokfin page ($$). As always, wrestlestat was a huge help in gathering all this information and if you’re a wrestling nerd like myself, I highly recommend you check them out. As usual, all the rankings came from the pay-wall free Intermat Wrestling website.