No. 16 Rutgers Wrestling will host the Terrapins of Maryland Saturday afternoon at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway in what will be the final match of their Big Ten dual schedule.
The Scarlet Knights (13-5, 2-5) will look to pickup their first Big Ten win since taking out Illinois back on January 14th. Maryland (5-11, 0-7) is a rebuilding team that has struggled mightily since joining the Big Ten (with Rutgers) in 2014 but picked up five out of conference wins this season.
Rutgers leads the all-time series, sitting at 12-5-1 and this should be a good spot for the Scarlet Knight squad to gain some confidence heading into the postseason. Rutgers comes into the dual with six ranked wrestlers according to Intermat, led by No. 3 Sebastian Rivera at 141lbs, who has held that spot for several weeks now.
Dylan Shawver (125lbs) and Mike VanBrill (149lbs) each moved up one spot, to No. 28 and No. 15 respectively, while standout freshman Joey Olivieri (133lbs) moves up two spots to No. 16 after his big weekend where he gained two major decision victories.
Rutgers’ stars in the upperweights, John Poznanski (184lbs) and Greg Bulsak (197lbs) both find themselves in the midst of a minor slump with only two wins between them in their last seven appearances. Poznanski dropped one spot to No. 8 while Bulsak took a bigger hit, falling from No. 6 to No. 12 in the latest offering.
The two wrestlers will look to bounce back here, where they will likely square off against the only two ranked wrestlers on Maryland’s roster, No. 16 Kyle Cochran (184lbs) and No. 30 Jaron Smith (197lbs).
Cochran, a Paramus High product, has had a strong season, taking home the title at the always prestigious Southern Scuffle Tournament to begin the new year while Smith has a notable win over No. 11 Patrick Brucki of Michigan during their dual meet with the Wolverines.
Poznanski and Bulsak will both be favored in their ranked bouts and picking up solid wins here could go a long way in settling the nerves popping up among the fanbase on the banks.
At 133lbs, Joey Olivieri will have to stay frosty as he’ll be up against the nation’s pin leader (11) in King Sandoval of the Terps. Sandoval comes into the dual with a 13-12 record, so he seems to be an all-or-nothing style wrestler that can always be dangerous if you let your guard down.
Rutgers will be favored in nine of ten matches, with 174lbs being a toss-up between two freshmen, with both coming in with .500 records in Connor O’Neill (10-10) and Dom Solis (11-11).
When the dust settles, I like Rutgers to rebound in a huge way here, picking up the rare Big Ten shutout, and taking the dual 41-0 to finish the conference schedule on a high note.
Action kicks off Saturday at 2:00PM at Jersey Mike’s Arena and will be a national broadcast on the Big Ten Network.