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No. 17 Rutgers Wrestling set to host Rider

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The in-state rivalry match is back on after a year hiatus with the Scarlet Knights coming in as a heavy favorite.

Boone McDermott/Kyonte Hamilton
Rutgers Athletics/Kostas Lymperopoulos

No. 17 Rutgers Wrestling (12-4, 2-4) is back in action Thursday night as they will host in-state rival Rider (2-5) at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway at 7:00PM.

The team didn’t have any official events this past weekend, but they did send a contingent of wrestlers to the Mat Town Open II at Lock Haven University on Saturday. Most noteworthy, we saw the varsity debut of highly ranked recruit in Heavyweight Kyonte Hamilton and the redshirt debut of former No. 1 ranked recruit Dean Peterson.

Hamilton took second place, taking three wins on the day before falling in the finals to Grady Greiss of Navy, a three-time Nebraska state finalist. The varsity debut of Hamilton is sure to bring questions as to his availability for the rest of the season and where he stands with regards to incumbent starter Boone McDermott, as both are listed on the official preview.

Peterson, in his debut, maintained his redshirt and competed unattached at the tournament, gaining two wins. Peterson was able to take out three-time Pennsylvania State Champion Julian Chlebove, now of Arizona State.

Full tournament results can be found here, as new transfer Asa Garcia made his debut as well, picking up two wins.

For the match against Rider, Rutgers is a heavy favorite as the Broncs are rebuilding a program that once was the best in New Jersey. That torch was passed to Rutgers (and Princeton) years ago, but the dual Thursday night should produce a fun atmosphere at Jersey Mike’s Arena.

No. 17 Rutgers comes into the match with six wrestlers ranked in the Top 33 according to Intermat, led by No. 3 Sebastian Rivera at 133lbs. I thought Rivera might move up a spot here after No. 2 Jaydin Eierman fell to No. 1 Nick Lee in overtime during the Penn State/Iowa dual this past Friday, but Rivera remains at No. 3.

At 133lbs, Joey Olivieri moves up two spots to No. 18, despite losing his last four matches, where he has looked strong against top competition in the Big Ten.

Mike VanBrill moves up one spot to No. 16 at 149lbs as he looks to continue his stellar season with No. 2 ranked Sammy Sasso of Ohio State looming on Sunday.

In the upperweights, John Poznanski clocks in at No. 7 at 184lbs, the same spot he was in last week, as Poz looks slated return here from the injury he suffered against Michigan State a few weeks back.

Rounding out the ranked Scarlet Knights is Greg Bulsak at 197lbs, who comes in up one spot to No. 6 as he looks to rebound from three consecutive losses, albeit to top-ranked competition, after opening the season 15-0.

Rider’s lineup, based on the match preview put out by Rutgers, features former New Jersey high school wrestlers at nine of ten weights with five state titles between them. The Broncs have struggled with injuries and COVID-19 related issues this season, missing as many as five starters at one point, and come into the dual with a 2-5 record, featuring wins over Northern Illinois and Bloomsburg.

The only ranked matchup on the evening would feature Rutgers No. 3 ranked Sebastian Rivera taking on two-time New Jersey State Champion Quinn Kinner at 141lbs. Kinner, a highly ranked recruit out of Kingsway High School, began his collegiate career at Ohio State before transferring back home to Rider during the off-season.

At 285lbs, Rider’s David Szuba has had an impressive true freshman campaign so far, sitting at 13-5 on the season heading into the dual.

Former Rutgers national qualifier at 197lbs Matt Correnti transferred to Rider after the 2020 season but has struggled so far this year, going 1-6 while missing some time with injuries.

It’s entirely possible Rutgers pitches a shut-out here as they are probably favorites at every weight, but it’s wrestling and things happen, so I’m calling it 31-3 for the Scarlet Knights with the host team taking 9 of 10 bouts.

Action kicks off Thursday night at 7:00PM on BTN Plus ($$).