No. 12 Rutgers Wrestling will head down to Washington D.C. tonight to take on the Eagles of American University. Starting the season 8-0 for the first-time since 2014, all signs point to the Scarlet Knight train rolling through our nation’s capital with little resistance. The squad will be favored in most matches tonight, but we also could see some starters sit the dual out.
Coach Goodale joined the “Inside Rutgers Athletics” podcast earlier in the week and talked about American University and the upcoming dual, “It’s a new group, Coach Borrelli just got there (from Stanford after 13 seasons) but there are some kids in the lineup that are certainly capable,” said Coach Goodale. He continued, “Down the road, they are going to be very good, he’s an awesome coach and he did an incredible job at Stanford and he’s going to do an incredible job at American,” Coach Goodale said.
Depending on who goes tonight, Rutgers should take anywhere from 7-10 matches and get to 9-0 easily. Coach specifically mentioned giving No. 11 ranked 133lber Sammy Alvarez the night off during the podcast, and I’m sure we’ll see one or two more given the same treatment. American’s lineup features two starters with NJ ties, 133lber Jack Maida, who wrestled for Shore Regional and 165lber Tim Fitzpatrick, who wrestled for Holy Spirit. The dual airs tonight on ESPN+ and is set to start at 7:30PM.
Rutgers Wrestling is coming off a 2-0 weekend after taking both of their matches against Hofstra and No. 18 UNC during the “Garden State Grapple” event at the Prudential Center in Newark. Coach Goodale spoke about the event and its future, “Overall, I liked the atmosphere, I liked the venue, going forward we’re going to try and make it a Big Ten vs EIWA (conference) challenge because those coaches want in on wrestling in that event,” said Coach Goodale.
Coach also talked about how this was the first time he scheduled a dual(s) the weekend after Thanksgiving in a long time, mainly because in the past he wasn’t 100% confident that the team would have the necessary discipline to overcome the holiday weight hurdles that matter immensely in a sport like wrestling. However, with this team, he never worried for a second, “The preparation was unbelievable,” Coach Goodale said, “I just think they are professionals in every sense of the word.”
With regards to that professionalism, Coach Goodale specifically mentioned nationally No. 13 ranked 197lber Greg Bulsak, who went 2-0 against ranked opponents at the event, “When I say act like a pro and live your life like a pro, that’s Bulsak,” Coach emphasized, “If we could all live like that and train like that… we’d be in a good spot.”
Coach Goodale also spoke about how he was impressed with the effort put forth by Rob Kanniard, who lost via decision to reigning national champion Austin O’Connor of North Carolina, “Rob wasn’t with us until Friday (day before the match) because he was very sick all week,” Coach Goodale continued, “in this day and age where a lot of college wrestlers don’t want to put it on the line, Rob wanted this match, it was circled on his calendar.”
Coach Goodale said he was overall very happy with the performance by the team on the day, although he was disappointed that UNC didn’t send out most of their ranked wrestlers. The fans in attendance were equally disappointed and it’s good to hear that the format may change to a Big Ten/EIWA challenge.
In other news around the team, Coach Goodale confirmed former number one overall recruit at 138lbs Jojo Aragona has entered the transfer portal and will be leaving the team. It’s an unfortunate outcome but here’s hoping Jojo ends up happy and healthy as he seems like a great kid.