The Big Ivy Rivalry was back in full force on a frigid Friday night at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway as the No. 16 Rutgers Wrestling program hosted the No. 24 Princeton Tigers (6-5) with the namesake trophy up for grabs for the first time since 2020 when the Ivy League standout took the title for the first time in over two decades.
This time around, the Scarlet Knights (15-5, 3-5) made sure the trophy would be back home on the banks as they took down the Tigers 24-13, taking the match split 7-3. Although the victory was sweet, apparent injuries to Sebastian Rivera (knee) and Rob Kanniard (broken nose) put a damper on the celebrations.
A rare site occurred on the banks as the match started at 165lbs rather than the normal 125lbs start, so it was Andrew Clark of the Scarlet Knights taking on Blaine Bergey to kick off the meet.
Bergey got the scoring started when he snatched a single leg and converted it for two. Clark earned an escape quickly before the two wrestlers entered an extended scramble that ended in a stalemate.
Clark then snatched a leg of his own and worked around Bergey for a takedown before the Tiger earned an escape at the buzzer to knot at the score at three after one.
For the second period, Clark chose bottom to kick off the action and earned another quick escape. Bergey worked a double leg attempt into a takedown near the end of the period to grab a 5-4 lead heading into the final frame.
Clark was in the top position to start the third where he put on a strong ride before Bergey earned an escape to take a 6-4 lead. Clark was then in deep on a double leg attempt where he appeared to have Bergey taken down, before the Tiger ended up back on top of Clark.
Rutgers challenged the call, but it failed and Bergey led 8-4 with 8 seconds left in the match, where he held on to win 8-5 after Clark’s riding time point was added.
The second match was up at 174lbs where Connor O’Neill took on Princeton’s Nate Dugan and the Scarlet Knight showed off some slick defense, getting his leg back to the mat to avoid a takedown after Dugan had it high in the air.
It was scoreless after one and O’Neill chose bottom to start the second where he earned a quick escape to snag the first point of the match. The escape would be the only point of the period as we headed to the third where O’Neill would begin in the top position, looking to put on a strong ride.
Dugan had other plans and earned his escape quickly to tie the match at one apiece. O’Neill again showed off some slick defense, rolling through a takedown attempt from Dugan for his own points to take a 3-1 lead late in the period where he held on to earn the decision victory, despite a late escape from Dugan that made the final tally 3-2.
Because of the start at 165lbs, our first ranked matchup of the evening should have been at 184lbs where No. 11 John Poznanski of the Scarlet Knights was due to square off against No. 23 Travis Stefanik, but the Tiger didn’t weigh in, so Michael Squires, a wrestler who normally competes at 174lbs, had to fill in here.
Poznanski wasted no time once the whistle sounded, scoring his first takedown moments into the match. Poznanski let Squires up on the restart after they headed out of bounds and was right back in on another shot, converting it for another takedown.
Two more takedown came from Poznanski in the first and he carried an 8-3 lead as the period ended. Poznanski chose bottom to start the second and earned an escape five seconds into period.
Poznanski was in full Sebastian Rivera mode at this point, bringing down his Princeton opponent basically at will as he earned his fifth takedown of the match halfway through the period.
After two, Poznanski led 12-4 and he would start in the top position for the final period, where Squires earned an escape about 30 seconds in. Poznanski’s secured a sixth takedown a few moments later, securing him the major decision victory, 15-6.
The actual first ranked match Friday night was up at 197lbs where Rutgers No. 11 Greg Bulsak looked to take out Princeton’s No. 20 Luke Stout and it was the Scarlet Knight who opened the scoring with a takedown a minute into the first.
Bulsak then started his smothering ride on top, accumulating almost two minutes of riding time where Stout was hit for a stall warning before earning an escape.
Bulsak, who chose bottom to kick off the second, was out quickly and the two wrestlers traded attempts before Bulsak gained a takedown off a shot attempt form Stout right at the buzzer in the second.
The Scarlet Knight led 5-1 entering the third where Stout chose neutral, looking to avoid having Bulsak on top again.
Stout was able to take Bulsak down on a controversial call that required a challenge from the Princeton bench to achieve, but Bulsak earned another takedown after Stout cut him and took the match by decision, 9-3, after the riding time point was added.
The final match before intermission featured the big boys as Boone McDermott of the Scarlet Knights faced off against Matthew Cover. The match started slowly before McDermott was able to shuck Cover’s arms aside to get behind him and earn the takedown.
McDermott chose bottom to begin the second and was able to get out right away, increasing his lead to 3-0, where it stood at the end of the period.
For the third, McDermott began in the top position, and he got the arena rocking with a emphatic mat return, before giving up a reversal to Cover. McDermott earned another quick escape and led 4-2 with a minute left in the match.
Cover then converted his first shot attempt for a takedown to knot the match at four with 15 seconds left, and McDermott couldn’t earn an escape, so the match headed to sudden victory.
In the overtime period, Cover shot in on a double leg attempt but was stuffed by McDermott, before the Scarlet Knight was able to shuck Cover’s arms aside once again to earn the match deciding takedown, much to the approval of the Rutgers’ faithful on hand.
At intermission, the Scarlet Knights led 13-3, taking four of the first five bouts, including big toss up wins at 174lbs and heavyweight.
Kicking off the second half of the dual, we were at 125lbs where Rutgers No. 28 Dylan Shawver had a tough test on his hands, taking on former All-American and No. 2 Patrick Glory of the Tigers in the second ranked matchup of the meet.
Glory got the scoring started off a single leg takedown after which he let Shawver up right away. Shawver briefly had Glory in a headlock, but the Tiger squirmed out before converting his second takedown of the match.
Glory was able to tilt Shawver over for four nearfall points before the Scarlet Knight worked a reversal for his first offensive points of the match. Glory escaped quickly on the restart, and he led 9-3 after the first.
Shawver began the second in the top position, but the Tiger Glory again earned a quick escape right off the whistle. Glory led 10-3 after the second and Shawver chose neutral for the third period start, hoping to get to his offense and cut the lead.
Shawver attempted a snatch single, but Glory stuffed it and was able to get behind Shawver for the takedown, where the match would end in favor the Tiger by major decision, 13-3.
Back in the starting lineup after missing the Maryland dual last weekend was No. 16 Joe Olivieri of the Scarlet Knights who took on Princeton’s Nick Kayal. The first two minutes of the match produced a few attempts from both wrestlers, but none were converted to points.
A blood time stoppage prevented a takedown from Olivieri as the whistle sounded just before he took Kayal to the ground.
Undeterred, Olivieri brought Kayal to his back on the restart for a takedown and four nearfall points before Kayal earned a reversal at the buzzer.
It was 6-2 in favor of Olivieri to begin the second, and the Scarlet Knight chose the bottom position, earning a quick escape to extend his lead.
The escape would be the only point of the second and Olivieri was in the top position for the final frame, where he rode out Kayal for most of the period before the Tiger earned a reversal with five seconds left.
It wouldn’t be enough for Kayal though, as Olivieri held on to take the 8-4 decision after the riding time point was added.
Rutgers 141lbs hammer was up next at 141lbs as Sebastian Rivera, the third ranked wrestler in the country, squared up with Daniel Coles of the Tigers. Rivera earned his first takedown of the match about a minute into the period and followed it up with two quick nearfall points to jump out to a 4-0 lead.
The match was stopped shortly after as Rivera suffered an apparent lower body injury, but the Scarlet Knight was back on his feet after a quick respite, but it was clear he was hindered for the remainder of the match.
Coles picked neutral on the restart as he had the choice after the injury time for Rivera, but no other points were scored in the first. Rivera chose bottom to begin the second and he earned his escape about 15 seconds into the period.
Rivera scored his second takedown of the match halfway through the second and led 7-0, before conceding an escape to Coles. The third takedown for Rivera came with five seconds left in the period and he took a 9-1 lead into the final frame.
The Scarlet Knight was in the top position to begin the third and was able to tilt Coles for another four nearfall points before giving up a reversal with a minute left in the period.
Rivera earned an escape and then took Coles down again before securing another four-point tilt to take the technical fall win, his nation leading 13th on the season.
The technical fall from Rivera locked up the dual for the Scarlet Knights as they led in the team score 21-7 with just two bouts remaining.
Making his penultimate appearance at Jersey Mike’s Arena, No. 15 Mike VanBrill was up next where he took on Marshall Keller of the Tigers, as the Scarlet Knight looks to end his career on the banks on a high note in his final two home competitions.
VanBrill opened the scoring with a snatch single he converted for two after a brief struggle from Keller. Keller earned an escape after a 30 second ride from VanBrill and it was 2-1 in favor of the Scarlet Knight midway through the first.
The second takedown of the match again came from VanBrill as he collected Keller’s legs for another two points. VanBrill chose the bottom position for the second and earned his escape to extend his lead to 5-1.
Keller followed the escape with a takedown of his own on the edge of the mat for his first offensive points of the match, but VanBrill was able to grab a leg a work a reversal to get his lead back to four.
Keller hit his own reversal at the end of the second and the score was 7-5 in favor of VanBrill heading into the third. VanBrill was in the top position for the final period where he brought his riding time over a minute before Keller earned an escape with 45 seconds left in the match.
VanBrill gave up a stall point at the end of the period that tied the match at 7, but his two minutes of riding time proved to be the difference as he squeaked out the 8-7 decision win.
The final match of the dual was at 157lbs where Rob Kanniard faced off against Princeton’s No. 7 Quincy Monday and the Tiger was quickly able to get Kanniard down and tilted for a early 6-0 lead. Kanniard was injured in the exchange and had to default out of the match, giving Monday the win.
Shawver had some flashes in his match with the No. 2 ranked Glory, including a headlock that got the crowd going, but ultimately was overmatched.
Olivieri looked strong as he hit another cradle from an almost standing position for six quick points in his victory, but also gave up a pair of reversals.
Rivera injured his knee early in his match but showed some real guts grinding his way to a tech fall win. His status going forward will be the talk of the night, but the fact he was able to finish the match has to bode well.
VanBrill is starting to get hit with stall calls on top, but his offense is picking up as the season plows ahead.
Kanniard apparently broke his nose right off the jump in his match with the ranked Monday, so not much to take away from the bout here. Hopefully he can heal up quickly, but I doubt we see him or Rivera on Saturday against Columbia.
Clark had an up and down match in his loss tonight, getting deep on a few shots and picking up a ton of riding time, but falling in the end.
O’Neill secured a big win that he needed after struggling in recent outings. His roll through to secure the match sealing takedown had the crowd jacked up.
Poznanski came out in a fury before settling down later in the match. It was great to see him get to his offense in this spot as he looks ahead to the postseason.
Bulsak grabbed a big, ranked win as he took out Stout, a wrestler Coach Goodale said has a promising future.
Big Boone McDermott seems to be rounding into form as he picked up his second win in a row by way of late takedowns. Coach Goodale still wants to see more attacks from the heavyweight, though.
A solid performance from the Scarlet Knights as they pick up Coach Goodale’s 198th win as the leader of the Rutgers Wrestling program.
The squad is back in action tomorrow, as they cap off the regular season by hosting the Columbia Lions at 5:00PM at Jersey Mike’s Arena. The match can be streamed via BTN Plus.
Box Score: No. 16 Rutgers 24, No. 24 Princeton 13
125: No. 28 Dylan Shawver vs No. 2 Patrick Glory - Glory by major dec., 13-3
133: No. 16 Joe Olivieri vs Nick Kayal - Olivieri by dec., 8-4
141: No. 3 Sebastian Rivera vs Daniel Coles - Rivera by technical fall, 20-3
149: No. 15 Mike VanBrill vs Marshall Keller - VanBrill by dec., 8-7
157: Rob Kanniard vs No. 7 Quincy Monday - Monday by injury default
165: Andrew Clark vs Blaine Bergey - Bergey by dec., 8-5**
174: Connor O’Neill vs Nate Dugan - O’Neill by dec., 3-2
184: No. 11 John Poznanski vs Michael Squires - Poznanski by major dec., 15-6
197: No. 11 Greg Bulsak vs No. 20 Luke Stout - Bulsak by dec., 9-3
285: Boone McDermott vs Matthew Cover - McDermott by dec., 6-4 (SV1)
**Match began at 165lbs