No. 15 Rutgers Wrestling (12-3, 2-3) split matches 5-5 with Michigan State (8-1, 3-1) Friday night in East Lansing in a Big Ten dual meet, but came away with their third loss on the season as the Spartans took the dual, 20-17, on the back of two upsets at 184lbs and 197lbs.
Rutgers led 11-6 halfway through the dual, taking three of five matches to open the meet, including another technical fall from No. 3 Sebastian Rivera at 141lbs.
The second half of the dual went the Spartans way, as they took three of five matches including a pin from No. 27 Layne Malczewski over Rutgers’ No. 5 John Poznanski at 184lbs.
The dual opened at 125lbs where Rutgers No. 27 Dylan Shawver took on Tristan Lujan of the Spartans. There wasn’t a ton of action in the first, as the two wrestlers had an extended scramble near the end of the period, but there was no scoring until Shawver gained a takedown as time expired.
The timing of the takedown brought on a review from the officials, but the call was confirmed and Shawver took the early lead.
Shawver was in the top position to start the second and Lujan was awarded an escape, but Shawver immediately took him down again, and there was another review. The call was again confirmed and Shawver was up 4-2 after Lujan again escaped to end the second period.
Shawver chose bottom to start the third and Lujan was looking for a turn the entire period, but Shawver got the 4-3 decision win as time ran out on Lujan.
The second bout of the evening was our first ranked matchup as the Scarlet Knights No. 20 Joey Olivieri took on former All-American and No. 12 Rayvon Foley in another tough test for Olivieri.
An Olivieri snatch single attempt and some Russian ties from Foley resulted in some fun action but a scoreless first period and Olivieri was on top to start the second.
Foley was out quickly and Olivieri was in deep on another single leg attempt before a stalemate was called.
No other scoring in the second and Olivieri chose neutral to start the third, looking to avoid Foley’s strong top game. Foley was able to stave off multiple shot attempts from Olivieri to take the decision win, 1-0.
Olivieri was close several times throughout the match and looked strong against the former All-American.
Next up was Rutgers lightweight monster and No. 3 ranked Sebastian Rivera up against Jordan Hamdan of the Spartans. Rivera hit an ankle pick early for his first takedown and then worked a quick tilt for two near fall points to open the scoring.
Hamdan laid on his belly for the rest of the period and Rivera led 4-0 after one. Rivera chose bottom to begin the second and was out in three seconds before scoring a takedown off a go-behind a few moments later.
Rivera let Hamdan up after a brief ride and hit a strong double leg with an authoritative finish to lead 11-2 after two. Rivera began the third period in the top position and gained two more points off a tilt 30 seconds in.
After a second stall warning on Hamdan and another tilt, this time for four points, Rivera took another technical fall win. He looks better and better in every match.
The next bout saw No. 17 Mike VanBrill taking on Peyton Omania in a rematch of their opening round Big Ten Tournament face-off from last season. Omania, a wrestler with a Greco-Roman style background, won their first meeting last season before VanBrill went on his well-noted run to a 3rd place finish.
From the beginning of the match, VanBrill was staying away from Omania’s tie ups, but still was controlling the general mat positioning, though it led to a scoreless first. VanBrill chose bottom to start the second and was able to reverse Omania quickly to take a 2-0 lead.
Omania escaped after a quick ride from VanBrill, and the rest of the period featured some strong hand-fighting but no other scoring.
VanBrill, leading 2-1 entering the third, was in the top position to start and the Scarlet Knight put on another tough ride to keep Omania down for the entire period, taking the decision win 3-1. A saavy performance from the veteran VanBrill who gets his revenge on Omania.
The final match of the first half of the dual saw Al Desantis stepping in for normal Rutgers’ starter Rob Kanniard to take on No. 19 Chase Saldate of the Spartans. Saldate opened the scoring halfway through the period with a takedown off a double leg shot attempt.
Desantis was hit with a stall warning near the end of the period and Saldate led 2-0 after one. Desantis started the second in the top position, but Saldate was able to gain a reversal right away to extend his lead. Desantis was hit with two additional stall warnings in the second to give Saldate more points and he led 6-0 after two.
Desantis chose neutral for the third, looking to avoid giving up bonus points, but was unable as Saldate scored another takedown a minute into the period. After the riding time point was added, Saldate took the major decision win, 9-0.
No intermission in East Lansing, so the second half kicked off right away with Rutgers’ Andrew Clark up against Caleb Fish of Michigan State. The two spent the first period trading tie ups and hand-fighting but no scoring came from either and Clark opened the second period in the bottom position.
Clark was briefly caught on his back after a strong mat return from Fish but was able to squirm out and no points were awarded. Fish finished the period on top and gained two minutes of riding time in the process.
Clark was on top for the third and Fish earned the escape after a 30 second ride from Clark. Fish secured a late takedown off a shot attempt from Clark and after the riding time point was added, Fish took the 4-0 win.
Rutgers led 11-10 in the team score heading into the bout at 174lbs between Connor O’Neill and Nathan Jimenez of the Spartans. Another scoreless first period here as neither wrestler was close to scoring a takedown early.
The second period began with O’Neill in the bottom position, and he got his escape after 15 seconds. No other scoring in the second and O’Neill was on top to start the third before Jimenez escaped to knot the score at one with a minute to go in the match.
O’Neill scored a takedown off a bad shot attempt by Jimenez to take the 3-1 lead late in the period where he held on to take the gutsy decision win.
Another dual, another ranked opponent for Rutgers No. 5 ranked John Poznanski where he saw No. 27 Layne Malczewski at 184lbs, and it was the Spartan who scored the first points with a takedown two minutes into the period before catching Poznanski on his back as he tried to escape to gain the fall.
A big upset win for the Spartan and the second loss in a row for Rutgers’ Poznanski.
The penultimate match of the dual featured a ranked bout between No. 6 Greg Bulsak of the Scarlet Knights and No. 15 Cam Caffey. Bulsak attacked with a strong high crotch to a single leg finish to get the first points of the match.
Caffey earned an escape after almost a minute ride from Bulsak and showed some strong defense as Bulsak was in a deep on another shot, but couldn’t gain the takedown.
Bulsak chose bottom to start the second and he was out with an escape ten seconds into the period. The two wrestlers had over a minute long scramble but neither could convert and it was 3-1 Bulsak after two.
Bulsak was on top to begin the third and held Caffey down long enough to get his riding time accumulated to over a minute before Caffey escaped.
Caffey then got Bulsak into a merkle position (impossible to describe, but imagine a standing takedown) to earn a takedown and then brought Bulsak to his back two different times for eight total near fall points to blow the match wide open.
Rutgers’ Coach Goodale originally challenged the takedown call but after review the call was confirmed. A late escape came from Bulsak, but Caffey held on for the shocking 12-4 major decision win.
After a pair of huge losses for Rutgers, Michigan State led 20-14 heading into the heavyweight match where Boone McDermott would face off against Brad Wilton of the Spartans.
McDermott would need a pin to force a tie and send the match to criteria tie breakers, but the first period went by with no scoring from either wrestler. McDermott began the period in the top position and Wilton was out quickly.
No other scoring in the second and McDermott chose bottom for the third where he gained an escape 20 seconds in.
The match would head to overtime after McDermott kept trying to get in a position to attempt a throw but in the extra period, the Rutgers heavyweight was only able to gain a takedown to take the match 3-1.
A strange loss for the Scarlet Knights as the match was playing out almost exactly as it should on paper before the Poznanski and Bulsak upset losses.
Poznanski getting caught for a pin is less concerning to me than the fact he hasn’t seemed to be able to get to his offense in the past three matches, converting just two takedowns in the span.
The veteran No. 15 Cam Caffey hit a move on Bulsak you see a handful of times per season, and although it was a jarring result, I’m not concerned about his ability to bounce back here.
Dylan Shawver keeps racking up close victories and Joey Olivieri suffered another tough loss against a stellar opponent as the true freshman looks to find his footing in Big Ten competition.
Sebastian Rivera is an absolute hammer and he showed that off again tonight with another technical fall.
The Scarlet Knights also got gutsy wins from Mike VanBrill and Connor O’Neill in big spots tonight, and the two will look to ride that momentum into the rest of the season.
Rutgers heads to Ann Arbor Sunday for a showdown with No. 3 Michigan and their nine ranked wrestlers at 4:00PM EST on BTN Plus($$).
Box Score: Michigan State 20 over No. 15 Rutgers 17
125: No. 27 Dylan Shawver vs Tristan Lujan – Shawver by dec., 4-3
133: No. 20 Joey Olivieri vs No. 12 Rayvon Foley – Foley by dec., 1-0
141: No. 3 Sebastian Rivera vs Jordan Hamdan – Rivera by technical fall, 18-2
149: No. 17 Mike VanBrill vs Peyton Omania – VanBrill by dec., 3-1
157: Al Desantis vs No. 19 Chase Saldate – Saldate by major dec., 9-0
165: Andrew Clark vs Caleb Fish – Fish by dec., 4-0
174: Connor O’Neill vs Nathan Jimenez – O’Neill by dec., 3-1
184: No. 5 John Poznanski vs No. 27 Layne Malczewski – Malczewski by FALL
197: No. 6 Greg Bulsak vs No. 15 Cam Caffey – Caffey by major dec., 12-4
285: Boone McDermott vs Brad Wilton – McDermott by dec., 3-1 (SV1)