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Rutgers Wrestling: Four Takeaways from Media Day

Coach Scott Goodale gave his season opening press conference, shedding some needed light on the impending season.

Syndication: Asbury Park Press Peter Ackerman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Rutgers head coach Scott Goodale met with the media today to take questions and give his season opening press conference at the RWJ Barnabas Health Athletic Performance Center in Piscataway.

With the season set to start for 20 wrestlers this weekend at the Princeton Open, Coach Scott Goodale shed some light on what to expect from the Scarlet Knights for the 2022-23 campaign. Here are some key takeaways from his 30 minutes presser this morning.

The Team is Healthy...Mostly.

The Scarlet Knight squad enters the season generally healthier than in years past, with Goodale only pointing to Billy Janzer (197lbs) and Jackson Turley (174lbs), both of which had surgeries in the past year, as wrestlers he needs to monitor early.

Turley, from what I understand, had his surgery back in January, so he should be good to go sooner than later.

Fans are eagerly awaiting the returns of both wrestlers with Turley looking to find the magic that earned him All-American honors two years ago and Janzer making his way back into the lineup after qualifying for nationals during his first two years of competing on the banks.

No Wrestle-Offs = Tons of First Semester Competition

Goodale has made it no secret over the years of his dislike for true wrestle-off matches, preferring to call them indicator matches where the outcome is not the final determination of the lineup.

The same can be said for this year (although at the time of writing I can’t find indicator results), as Goodale has made it clear that many of the lineup spots won’t be decided until after the first semester.

Goodale specifically mentioned the impending battles at 125lbs between returning national qualifier Dylan Shawver and much heralded redshirt freshman Dean Peterson.

Goodale also made it clear that nothing is set in stone at 184lbs, where 2021 All-American John Poznanski “has never looked better” will compete with the highly recruited true freshman Brian Soldano for the spot.

Both wrestlers have a redshirt available and whoever ends up not starting will utilize it to save eligibility.

Every True Freshman Will See Mat Time

Thanks to a brand new rule that allows wrestlers five wrestling dates (tournaments, for example, where a wrestler would likely have more than one match will only count as one date), Goodale stated he expects each and every true freshmen to see action during this first semester.

This rule was a long time coming as it makes so much sense to allow wrestlers (and coaches) to see where they stand among competition outside of their own wrestling room before making a decision on whether or not to redshirt.

As stated earlier, this rule specifically benefits Goodale and Rutgers at 184lbs where they will be able to see true freshman Brian Soldano in action before making a lineup decision at that weight.

New Weight, New Me

Several wrestlers have either gone up or down in weight class compared to last season according to Coach Goodale, starting at 133lbs where both Sammy Alvarez and Joe Olivieri will bump up to 141lbs for the upcoming season.

For Alvarez, it makes a ton of sense as weight issues have cost him the last two postseasons (while Covid-19 cost him his first postseason). Goodale always raves about the talent Alvarez possesses, but also was clear that the Scarlet Knight wrestler needs to align his lifestyle with that talent because the results could be tremendous.

Olivieri, who stepped in for Alvarez as a true freshman last year at 133lbs and qualified for nationals, heads up to 141lbs in a somewhat unexpected move, but will redshirt for the season ahead.

Goodale did use the phrase “start the season in redshirt” when describing Olivieri’s status, perhaps to apply some pressure on Alvarez? We’ll see if it works.

At 157lbs and 165lbs respectively, two wrestlers are making their way down a weight from last season, with Andrew Clark going from 165->157lbs and Connor O’Neill dropping from 174->165lbs.

Goodale indicated that these weights are likely where the wrestlers should have been competing at last year and that they had little trouble reshaping their bodies for the lower classes.

ONeill is likely to start at 165lbs but I’m intrigued to see how 157lbs plays out with incumbent starter Rob Kanniard set to defend his roster spot against Clark.

The final exciting weight related news is Boone McDermott spent his offseason turning into the hulk as he put on ~30lbs between last season and now.

McDermott was noticeably undersized the past two seasons but still delivered some incredibly exciting moments at Jersey Mike’s Arena during that time. With his new, bulked-up frame, it will be interesting to see where he stands among his Big Ten peers as the season goes on.

Bonus Takeaway - Only Four Matches at Jersey Mike’s Arena?

Goodale isn’t thrilled about it either and he put the lion’s share of the blame on the Big Ten and their tendency to release the in-conference portion of the schedule incredibly late compared to other conferences.

Jersey Mike’s Arena is also occupied by Rutgers Women’s Basketball for what would’ve been the wrestling team’s season opening dual, so they’ll head over will to the aptly named “Barn” aka the College Ave Gym, where Rutgers was banished to compete before they became consistently one of the biggest draws in the country.

The season kicks off for 20 wrestlers this weekend at the Princeton Open which will be streamed on ESPN+. The season opening dual will take place next Friday against Clarion at the College Ave Gym.