Rutgers Wrestling (12-2, 2-2), now ranked No. 15 nationwide according to the latest Team Dual Rankings from Intermat, will head North this weekend for a pair of Big Ten duals in the Great Lake State against Michigan State and No. 3 Michigan.
As a team, the Scarlet Knights head into the duals with six individually ranked wrestlers, as Joey Olivieri (No. 20 at 133lbs), Sebastian Rivera (No. 3 at 141lbs) and John Poznanski (No. 5 at 184lbs) all holding their ranks from the previous week.
Three wrestlers moved up this week including Dylan Shawver at 125lbs (No. 31 to No. 27), Mike VanBrill at 149lbs (No. 18 to No. 17) and Greg Bulsak (No. 7 to No. 6).
Friday night, Rutgers will take on Michigan State (7-1, 2-1) who come into the meet with four wrestlers ranked in the top 33 nationwide which could produce three ranked matchups throughout the dual.
At 133lbs, Rutgers’ No. 20 Joey Olivieri should see No. 12 Rayvon Foley, a former All-American and three-time national qualifier. The true freshman Olivieri, who had a harsh welcome to the upper echelon of the 133lbs weight class last weekend as he fell to No. 6 Lucas Byrd of Illinois and No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State, will have another tough test here with Michigan State’s Foley.
Up at 184lbs, No. 5 John Poznanski will look to rebound against the Spartans No. 27 Layne Malczewski after a rough loss to No. 1 Aaron Brooks of Penn State, his first on the season. These two wrestlers met in the Big Ten Tournament last season, but Poznanski took the win by injury default, so we’ll see what the matchup brings this time around.
At 197lbs, the Scarlet Knight hammer Greg Bulsak, currently ranked No. 6 in the country, will face off against No. 15 Cam Caffey, a three-time national qualifier who brings a funky style (and sometimes funky hair) to the matchup.
Michigan State also has a ranked wrestler at 157lbs in No. 19 Chase Saldate who will take on Rutgers’ Rob Kanniard who is coming off a big overtime win over Penn State. Rutgers’ No. 17 Mike VanBrill could see Peyton Omania of the Spartans in a rematch of the opening round of last year’s Big Ten Tournament that saw Omania take the win before VanBrill went on his incredible run to finish in 3rd place.
Omania has a background in Greco-roman wrestling and was able to toss VanBrill to his back during their match last year, so VanBrill will look to avoid that in this spot.
Outside of Rivera at 141lbs, I don’t see a ton of potential for bonus points here for either team. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Rivera is given a rest at some point and we see Sammy Alvarez get the nod for his first action at 141lbs.
If both teams start their best lineups, I like Rutgers to take six of ten matches for the 20-12 victory. The action will kick off on Friday at 6:00PM EST and can be watched via BTN Plus ($$).