On the second night of the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Missouri on Friday, the Rutgers wrestling program made history with three All-Americans at nationals in the same year. Sebastian Rivera (141 pounds), Jackson Turley (174 pounds) and John Poznanski (184) all clinched top eight finishes in their individual weight classes to complete the impressive feat. It is also the sixth consecutive season that the Scarlet Knights have had multiple All-Americans.
“We’re just really proud of the way these guys wrestled this weekend,” Goodale said. “It’s extremely difficult to get on the podium at the national tournament, so to leave here with three All-Americans is a huge accomplishment for our program. But there is plenty of work left to do and we know that.”
With Rivera and Poznanski making it to the semifinals of their respective weight classes, it marked the second consecutive NCAA Championships that Rutgers has accomplished that after Nick Suriano and Anthony Ashnault, both of whom eventually won national titles, did the same in 2019. Last year’s NCAA Championships was cancelled due to COVID-19.
No. 3 Rivera won his first three matches between Thursday and Friday before losing 9-3 to no. 2 Nick Lee of Penn State, who he also lost to at the Big Ten Championships earlier this month. It was a closer bout than the final score indicated, with Rivera trailing by just 1 point with less than two minutes remaining in the third period. He beat no. 14 Dylan Duncan a second time on Saturday before losing to no. 4 Tariq Wilson 15-5 to finish in fourth place at nationals. Rivera is now a four-time All-American and had previously said this winter he plans to return next season.
Turley has been a tremendous story at the NCAA Championships and his aggressive style has been a key to his success. The no. 26 seed lost his first match on Thursday to no. 7 seed Kaleb Romero 7-2, but proceeded to win four consecutive matches in the consolation rounds to earn an elusive spot on the podium. He pinned no. 23 seed Anthony Mantanona of Oklahoma, earned a 16-1 technical fall against no. 9 Donnell Washington of Indiana, pinned no. 17 Benjamin Pasiuk of Army and then knocked off no. 6 Andrew McNally of Kent State in the blood round to clinch All-American status. Late Friday he lost by injury default in the third period to no. 5 Logan Massa of Michigan. He was set to wrestle in the seventh place match against no. 8 Daniel Bullard of N.C. State but instead sat out due to injury and finished in 8th place. A fantastic overall weekend for Turley, the redshirt freshman.
The freshman Poznanski has stood out on the big stage this month, having put together an statement run finishing third at the Big Ten Championships and now will wrestle for a chance to do the same at nationals on Saturday. He upset no. 3 seed Lou Deprez of Binghamton in the quarterfinals by the score of 8-4, winning with a takedown in the final 25 seconds of the bout. In the semifinals, Poznanski was tied 1-1 with no. 2 seed Trent Hidlay of N.C. State at the end of regulation but lost in the sudden victory period. He beat no. 11 Dakota Greer of Oklahoma State on Saturday a second time in a 10-6 decision before losing a 5-4 decision to No. 4 seed Parker Keckeisen of Northern Iowa. Poznanski had the highest finish at nationals in program history.
The two other national qualifiers for Rutgers were previously eliminated. Michael VanBrill, who finished third at the Big Ten Championships at 149 points, came in as the no. 10 seed but lost both of his bouts. At 197 pounds, Billy Janzer was the no. 33 seed. He won his pigtail match against Logan Andrews of Chattanooga 8-6, but then proceeded to lost his next two matches, including to no. 1 Myles Amine of Michigan.
Rutgers finished with 37.5 team points and 13 total victories. This program continues to make history on the national stage with Goodale as head coach. The fact that the program was on a pause due to COVID-19 in February, as well as being without last year’s All-American Sammy Alvarez for the postseason and 2019 national champion Nick Suriano the whole season makes what this program accomplished at this year’s NCAA Championships all the more impressive. Goodale continues to work his magic on the mat even during a global pandemic.