No. 12 Rutgers Wrestling wrapped up competition at the 2021 MatMen Open at the Now Arena in Hoffmann Estates, Illinois after the final session Thursday night.
The team brought home seven individual medals, highlighted by individual titles from No. 4 Sebastian Rivera at 141lbs and No. 12 at 197lbs Greg Bulsak and finished 5th as a team in the field of 20.
Rivera scored a technical fall victory in his final to cement a dominate tournament performance while Bulsak took out No. 2 and former national runner-up Nino Bonaccorsi of Pitt.
Unattached Anthony White took home the 4th place medal, while No. 25 Dylan Shawver and unattached Joey Olivieri placed 5th. At 174lbs, Connor O’Neill grabbed the 6th place medal and Al Desantis took 7th at 149lbs.
Scarlet Knight heavyweight No. 26 Boone McDermott finished off the tournament with his 8th place finish.
Session three took place Thursday morning and the Scarlet Knights had 11 wrestlers scheduled to compete with four in the championship semifinals. Before the session began, Rutgers announced that No. 12 Sammy Alvarez and No. 16 Jackson Turley would not be competing Thursday, ending their tournaments.
Alvarez suffered an apparent ankle injury during his quarterfinal match Wednesday night and Turley has been banged up most of the season, so this wasn’t surprising.
At the end of the session, Rutgers would have seven wrestlers headed to Thursday night’s medal matches with No. 4 Sebastian Rivera and No. 12 Greg Bulsak looking to bring home the gold medal from their respective weight classes.
True Freshman Anthony White continues his impressive redshirt campaign and would wrestle for 3rd place Thursday Night.
No. 25 Dylan Shawver, unattached Joey Olivieri, and Connor O’Neill were headed to 5th place matches later in the day while Al Desantis and No. 26 Boone McDermott would compete for 7th place medals.
At the end of the session, Rutgers would sit in 5th place in the overall team score. Individual breakdowns of each wrestler’s day can be found below.
No. 25 Dylan Shawver took on Penn’s No. 33 Ryan Miller for his 125lbs semifinal match. The first period saw lots of hand fighting with Miller eventually securing the late takedown to lead 2-0 after one.
Shawver was in deep a couple times in the second but couldn’t convert any takedowns and it was 3-0 Miller heading to the third. After an early escape, there wasn’t much action until Shawver gained a match-tying takedown with 10 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, Ryan Miller was able to secure a takedown about a minute in to take the win, 5-3.
Shawver then took place in the 125lbs consolation semifinal match where he was up against Sheldon Seymour of Lehigh. Shawver built an early 4-3 lead with a couple of takedowns in the first. In the second period, Seymour put on a tough ride early, but Shawver escaped about 70 seconds in.
Seymour scored a late takedown to knot the score at 5 heading into the third. The two traded scores in the period and Shawver had (what seemed like his 10th this season) another overtime match on his hands.
The first overtime period was scoreless which sent them to ride-outs where each wrestler gets 30 seconds to escape or ride their opponent out. Shawver couldn’t get out from bottom during the first 30 second period and then elected to cut Seymour during the second to try and get a takedown for the win, but it was not to be as Seymour prevailed, 8-7.
Shawver would wrestle for the 5th place medal Thursday night against Blair Orr of Penn. In the 5th place match, Shawver got the action going with a fireman’s carry to a single leg for the takedown early, followed by a tough ride to end the period on top with a 2-0 lead.
Shawver started on bottom to begin the second and was out quickly to gain the escape point. He then converted another fireman’s carry for a takedown and the 5-0 lead. Orr was able to work a reversal late in the period to get on the board but then Shawver immediately his own reversal on the restart to lead 7-2 heading into the third.
Shawver hit yet another fireman’s carry in the third and was able to keep Orr on his back for two backpoints to cement the 13-2 major decision win and his 5th place finish at the 2021 MatMen Open.
No. 4 Sebastian Rivera was up against Wisconsin’s Joseph Zargo in his semifinal match and scored two first period takedowns to build a 4-1 lead heading into the second. Another takedown followed an escape in the second extended the lead to 7-1 for Rivera after two.
The smothering continued in the third as Rivera built up almost four minutes of riding time to win by major decision, 11-1, and was on to the finals against CJ Composto of Penn.
In the championship finals, Rivera hits an ankle pick right off the opening whistle to score the early takedown. Rivera then cut Composto and then gained another takedown where he got to work with his tilts to build a 10-1 lead after the first.
More of the same in the second as Rivera extended the lead to 16-3 after a couple of takedowns. He wrapped up the technical fall early in the 3rd period with an additional takedown to take match 18-3 and the 2021 MatMen Open championship with a stellar performance.
At 149lbs, unattached Anthony White faced his toughest competition of the season in his semifinal in the form of No. 10 Josh Heil from Campbell. A defensive struggle throughout that saw only an escape point for Heil heading into the third period.
Unfortunately, White couldn’t gain his own escape point in the third and Heil took the win, 2-0 with riding time.
In his consolation semifinal match, White took on Max Brignola of Lehigh and they wrestled to a scoreless first. White put on a tough ride in the second, staying on top for the almost the entire period before Brignola scored a late reversal to take a 2-0 heading into the third.
White was out quick and with his riding time point, the score was tied at 2 as they headed to overtime. White was able to get behind Brignola a minute into the period and brought him to the mat to secure the takedown and the win.
White headed to Thursday night’s 3rd place match with the win where he would take on No. 27 Anthony Artalona of Penn. In the 3rd place bout, the two went scoreless in the first period as each wrestler was feeling the other out.
Artalona was out quickly to begin the second and after a lot of back and forth shot attempts, Artalona came out on top of a scramble late in the period to gain a 3-0 after two. White was out quick as well to begin the third and despite some deep shot attempts, White couldn’t convert and fell to Artalona, 3-1 to finish the 2021 MatMen Open in 4th place.
This was a lot of Rutgers’ fans first chance to see White in action and he put on a really strong performance here wrestling unattached, the future is bright.
Up at 197lbs, No. 12 Greg Bulsak looked to continue his impressive start to the season against No. 26 Braxton Amos of Wisconsin. A scoreless first period saw a nearly two-minute scramble between the wrestlers where neither was willing to concede the takedown.
In the second period, the Bulsak top dominance and strength were on full display as he wrenched Amos over in a power-half for four near fall points and rode him the entire period, to lead 4-0 after two.
Amos cut Bulsak instantly to start the third and then secured a late takedown, but it wasn’t enough as Bulsak took the decision, 6-2 as he headed to Thursday night’s final against No. 2 Nino Bonaccorsi of Pitt.
In the championship finals, Bonaccorsi started the scoring with a takedown and Bulsak was out fairly quickly. Bulsak was awarded a takedown but it was then taken away after a review by the officials and Bonaccorsi held a 2-1 lead after one.
In the second, Bulsak was awarded a penalty point for a locked hands call against Bonaccorsi. Bulsak was then able to gain the escape to take a 3-2 lead heading to the third period. Bulsak showed some strong defense in the 3rd and held on to dispatch No. 2 and former national runner-up Nino Bonaccorsi and to take home the 2021 MatMen Open title in an hugely impressive performance.
In the consolation bracket, Joey Olivieri took on No. 23 Kyle Burwick of Wisconsin at 133lbs. Olivieri scored three takedowns and a reversal en route to a 9-1 major decision win over his ranked opponent. A huge win for the unattached Olivieri that secured him a top 8 finish.
In his second match of the morning, Olivieri took on Jack Wagner of Northern Iowa. After a scoreless first, Olivieri was able to build a 2-0 heading into the third where he took down Wagner to gain at least a top-6 finish at the MatMen Open.
Olivieri looked to continue his impressive tournament with a win over Michigan’s Drew Mattin, a backup wrestler who would be ranked if Michigan didn’t have such incredible depth at their lower weights.
Olivieri built a 5-2 lead heading into the third period, but Mattin was able to tie it up at 5 so they headed to overtime. In the first sudden victory period, Mattin secured the takedown for the win to send Olivieri to Thursday night’s 5th place.
Olivieri would be up against Carter Bailey of Lehigh and he would try to get revenge for teammate and No. 12 ranked Sammy Alvarez who fell to Bailey earlier in the tournament.
In the 5th place match, Bailey got the scoring going with a takedown about a minute in and Olivieri was right out. Olivieri then worked a go-behind for two and brought Bailey to his back and held him there for four backpoints.
He grabbed another tilt as time expired in the first to extend his lead to 9-2 after one. Bailey was down to begin the second and escaped about halfway through the period before Olivieri caught Bailey in a cradle for six additional points to lead 15-3 heading into the third.
It was awesome to see No. 16 Jackson Turley and No. 26 Boone McDermott cornering Olivieri, showing strong support and urging him on. Not a ton of action in the third but with the riding time point, Olivieri claimed the 5th place medal with a big 16-3 major decision victory.
At 149lbs, Al Desantis was up against Kolby Depron of Bucknell, who teammate Anthony White dispatched Wednesday, 5-1.
This back-and-forth affair saw Desantis gain a takedown in the 3rd where he was then able to keep Depron down long enough to secure the riding time point and the match, winning 7-6 to guarantee at least a top-8 finish.
In his second match of the morning, Desantis fell to Lukus Stricker of Harvard which sent him to the 7th place match against Christian Kanzler of Illinois. Kanzler forfeited the match, so Al Desantis was your 7th place finisher at 149lbs, a great performance from him.
At 165lbs, Andrew Clark fell to No. 21 Danny Braunagel of Illinois in round four of the consolation bracket, ending his tournament with a 2-2 record.
Connor O’Neill took on Princeton’s Nate Dugan in his 4th round consi-bracket match at 174lbs and scored a takedown as time expired in the first period and then rode out Dugan for the entirety of the second.
Add in two escape points plus the riding time point and it was enough to hold off Dugan, 5-2 to secure a top-8 finish at the 2021 MatMen Open.
In his second match of the day, O’Neill took on Harvard’s No. 29 Josh Kim and after a scoreless first, O’Neill was able to take the lead in the second off a nice wrist-tilt and after a Kim escape, O’Neill led 2-1 after two.
After a long ride from Kim, O’Neill was able to score a late reversal to cement his 4-3 victory and continue his consi-bracket run with this solid ranked win.
In his consolation semifinal, he would have a rematch of his opening round loss against Manuel Rojas (unattached). Rojas built a 9-3 lead after two periods and that was as close at it would get for O’Neill as he was pinned by Rojas late in the 3rd and fell to Thursday night’s 5th place match.
In the 5th place match, O’Neill took on No. 25 Gerrit Nijenjuis of Purdue and Nijenjuis jumped out to an early 8-2 lead after three takedowns and two backpoints in the first. The Purdue wrestler extended his lead in the second with another takedown to lead 10-3 heading to the third. No comeback was in the cards for O’Neill as he fell by major decision, 14-3 to finish the 2021 MatMen Open in 6th place.
Up at heavyweight in the consolation bracket, No. 26 Boone McDermott was up against Jack Delgarbino of Princeton and Boone immediately went for a big throw but couldn’t convert it.
McDermott was able to hit a couple takedowns and a slick reversal while pouring on riding time to win and advance, 7-4 and guarantee a top-8 placing.
In his next consolation match, McDermott fell to Michael Woulfe of Purdue, despite a big throw in the 3rd period that got him within one point. With the loss, McDermott wrestled in the 7th place match Thursday night.
In the 7th place match, McDermott took on Ben Goldin of Penn and grabbed a 3-2 lead early in the third, but Goldin scored a takedown to take the 4-3 lead. McDermott escaped with two seconds left to send the match to overtime where Goldin got the match ending takedown 48 seconds in to win 6-4.
Overall, I’d rate this as a solid performance for the Scarlet Knights with lots of room for improvement. The status of No. 12 Sammy Alvarez will be huge as we enter the Big Ten portion of the schedule.
The individual titles from Sebastian Rivera and Greg Bulsak were huge, specifically Bulsak’s upset win in the finals. The team score is misleading, as Rutgers didn’t enter their No. 5 ranked 184lber in John Poznanski and their No. 19 ranked 149lber Mike VanBrill.
The team is next in action on Friday, January 5th as they have their first Big Ten Conference dual of the season against Indiana at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway. Action begins at 7:00PM. If you missed it, my day one recap of 2021 MatMen Open can be found here.
Kudos to Willie Saylor, Izzy Martinez, and the Illinois MatMen for putting together a successful tournament like this in such a short time.
125: No. 25 Dylan Shawver – 5th Place (3-2)
Rd. 1 vs BYE
Rd. 2 vs Bryce West (Northern Illinois) wins by major dec., 15-4
Rd. 3 vs Zurich Storm (Campbell) wins by dec., 3-2
Semifinals vs No. 33 Ryan Miller (Penn) loses by dec., 3-5 (SV1)
CB Semis vs Sheldon Seymour (Lehigh) loses by dec., 8-7 (SV2)
5th Place Match vs Blair Orr (Penn) wins by major dec., 13-2
133: No. 12 Sammy Alvarez – (1-2)
Rd. 1 vs BYE
Rd. 2 vs Nicholas Masters (Princeton) wins by technical fall, 21-2
Rd. 3 vs Carter Bailey (Lehigh) loses by FALL (2:20)
CB Rd 4 vs Jack Wagner (Northern Iowa) loses by MFF
133: Devon Britton – (1-2)
Rd. 1 vs Nicky Cabanillas (Brown) wins by dec., 9-4
Rd. 2 vs Drew Mattin (Michigan) loses by dec., 4-8
CB Rd. 2 vs Julian Farber (unattached) loses by dec., 0-4
133: Joey Olivieri (unattached) – 5th Place (5-2)
Rd. 1 vs Brandon Spellman (Princeton) wins by major dec., 12-1
Rd. 2 vs Jack Skudlarzyk (Northern Iowa) wins by major dec., 9-0
Rd. 3 vs No. 6 Micky Phillippi (Pitt) loses by dec., 0-2
CB Rd. 4 vs No. 23 Kyle Burwick (Wisconsin) wins by major dec., 9-1
CB Rd. 5 vs Jack Wagner (Northern Iowa) wins by dec., 4-0
CB Semis vs Drew Mattin (Michigan) loses by dec., 5-7 (SV1)
5th Place Match vs Carter Bailey (Lehigh) wins by major dec., 16-3
141: No. 4 Sebastian Rivera – 1st Place (4-0)
Rd. 1 vs BYE
Rd. 2 vs Kenny Herrmann (Harvard) wins by FALL (1:35)
Rd. 3 vs McKenzie Bell (unattached) wins by tech. fall, 18-2 (6:56)
Semifinals vs Joseph Zargo (Wisconsin) wins by major dec., 11-1
Finals vs CJ Composto (Penn) wins via tech. fall, 18-3
149: Al Desantis – 7th Place (5-2)
Rd. 1 vs Dillon Pousson (unattached) wins by major dec., 9-1
Rd. 2 vs No. 10 Josh Heil (Campbell) loses by dec., 2-5
CB Rd. 2 vs Kaya Sement (Penn) wins by dec., 6-2
CB Rd. 3 vs Luke Kemerer (Pitt) wins by dec., 7-5
CB Rd. 4 vs Kolby Depron (Bucknell) wins by dec., 7-6
CB Rd. 5 vs Lukus Stricker (Harvard) loses by dec., 2-6
7th Place Match vs Christian Kanzler (Illinois) wins by MFF
149: Anthony White (unattached) – 4th Place (3-2)
Rd. 1 vs BYE
Rd. 2 vs Lukus Stricker (Harvard) wins by dec., 4-0
Rd. 3 vs Kolby Depron (Bucknell) wins by dec., 5-1
Semifinals vs No. 10 Josh Heil (Campbell) loses by dec., 0-2
CB Semis vs Max Brignola (Lehigh) wins by dec., 4-2
3rd Place Match vs No. 27 Anthony Artalona (Penn) loses by dec., 1-3
157: No. 29 Rob Kanniard – (0-2)
Rd. 1 vs BYE
Rd. 2 vs Brawley Lamer (Cal Poly) loses by dec., 2-6
CB Rd. 2 vs Nick Delp (Bucknell) loses by dec., 4-10
165: Andrew Clark – (2-2)
Rd. 1 vs BYE
Rd. 2 vs No. 15 Zach Hartman (Bucknell) loses by major dec., 0-10
CB Rd. 2 vs Michael Kistler (Penn) wins by FALL (4:50)
CB Rd. 3 vs Michael Caliendo (unattached) wins by dec., 5-3
CB Rd. 4 vs No. 21 Danny Braunagel (Illinois) loses by major dec., 0-12
174: No. 16 Jackson Turley – (2-2)
Rd. 1 vs BYE
Rd. 2 vs Nate Dugan (Princeton) loses by dec., 3-5 SV1
CB Rd. 2 vs Dajun Johnson (Northern Iowa) wins by FALL (4:56)
CB Rd. 3 vs Hunter Kernan (Pitt) wins by dec., 6-1
CB Rd. 4 vs No. 29 Josh Kim (Harvard) loses by MFF
174: Connor O’Neill – 6th Place (4-3)
Rd. 1 vs Manuel Rojas (unattached) loses by dec, 12-16
CB Rd. 1 vs BYE
CB Rd. 2 vs Graham Calhoun (unattached) wins by dec., 4-2
CB Rd. 3 vs John Crawford (Franklin & Marshall) wins by dec., 12-5
CB Rd. 4 vs Nate Dugan (Princeton) wins by dec., 5-2
CB Rd. 5 vs No. 29 Josh Kim wins by dec., 4-3
CB Semis vs Manuel Rojas loses by FALL (6:35)
5th Place Match vs No. 25 Gerrit Nijenhuis (Purdue) loses by major dec., 3-14
197: No. 12 Greg Bulsak – 1st Place (4-0)
Rd. 1 vs BYE
Rd. 2 vs Tristin Guaman (Franklin & Marshall) wins by major dec., 13-3
Rd. 3 vs Cody Baldridge (North Central) wins by major dec., 13-2
Semifinals vs No. 26 Braxton Amos (Wisconsin) wins by dec., 6-2
Finals vs No. 2 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt) wins by dec., 3-2
285: No. 26 Boone McDermott – 8th Place (2-3)
Rd. 1 vs BYE
Rd. 2 vs Lear Quinton (Brown) wins by major dec., 10-2
Rd. 3 vs Jake Slinger (Pitt) loses by dec., 8-5
CB Rd. 4 vs Jack Delgarbino (Princeton) wins by dec., 7-4
CB Rd. 5 vs Michael Woulfe (Purdue) loses by dec., 6-11
7th Place Match vs Ben Goldin (Penn) loses by dec., 4-6 (SV1)