No. 17 Rutgers Wrestling (13-4, 2-4) hosted in-state rival Rider (2-6) Thursday in front of 3,151 fans at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway and while the weather was foggy outside, the Scarlet Knights showed they are clearly on another level than the Broncs, taking the meet 36-3, securing nine of ten bouts in the process.
The night started ominously for Rider, as they didn’t get the notice that team introductions were happening and missed the first six weights. Things didn’t get much better for the Broncs as they were only able to take a single match, squeaking out a win at 174lbs on a late reversal.
The meet opened at 125lbs where Rutgers’ No. 29 Dylan Shawver took on Tyler Klinsky of the Broncs and it was Shawver opening the scoring with his patented fireman’s carry to a dump for two. Klinsky was out quickly and the two traded shot attempts before Shawver worked a go-behind to a single leg takedown for two more.
Klinsky earned an escape with 30 seconds left in the period and it was 4-2 Shawver after one. Shawver chose bottom to begin the second and was out after 15 seconds before turning a Klinsky shot into his own points with another go-behind to a single.
Shawver put on a much stronger ride this time around and finished the period on top while accumulating over two minutes of riding time. Shawver was in the top position to begin the third where he began working for a tilt and nearfall points before Klinsky was able to escape with 40 seconds left in the match.
Shawver was almost able to convert a late takedown, but Klinsky fought him off and the match ended in Shawver’s favor, 8-3.
At 133lbs, No. 18 Joey Olivieri was up against Richie Koehler of Rider and Rutgers’ Olivieri was on the board quick, gaining a takedown 25 seconds into the match. Koehler was then able to granby roll into a reversal before Olivieri earned an escape to lead 3-2.
There was a wild scramble at the end of the period where Olivieri found himself in a rough spot but was saved by a potentially dangerous call from the official. Olivieri chose bottom to begin the second and earned an escape 15 seconds into the period.
After some strong collar ties from each wrestler, Olivieri worked a snatch single leg to score a takedown and finish the period on top, as he led 6-2 after two. For the third period, Olivieri was in the top position where he was hit with a stall warning before Koehler was able to work a reversal.
Another escape from Olivieri followed quickly and it was 7-4 in favor of the Rutgers wrestler with 30 seconds left in the match. Olivieri then utilized a strong snap down and was able to put Koehler into a cradle on the edge of the mat for two takedown and four nearfall points to earn the 14-4 major decision, seemingly out of nowhere.
The sole ranked matchup of the evening saw Rutgers’ No. 3 Sebastian Rivera take on former two-time NJ State Champion and No. 25 ranked Quinn Kinner of the Broncs with Rivera opening the scoring about 15 seconds into the match with a takedown.
Kinner earned an escape after a brief ride from Rivera, and it was the Rutgers star back in quickly on another shot for two more points. Rivera was looking for a cradle before cutting Kinner and the two were back in the neutral position where the period would end.
It was 4-2 in favor of Rivera entering the second and he chose the bottom position to begin the period where Kinner was dinged for a stall warning before Rivera earned his escape. Kinner was in deep on a shot midway through the period and the two ended the period in a scramble with no points awarded to either wrestler.
Rivera was in the top position to start the third and Kinner escaped quickly. The match was 5-3 in favor of Rivera with a minute to go, uncharted waters for the Scarlet Knight who earned bonus points in each of his victories this season.
Rivera was hit for a stall warning as Kinner was aggressively trying to tie the match, but was able to get behind Kinner as the buzzer sounded for another takedown and the 7-3 victory, by far the closest decision of the year for Rivera.
At 149lbs, No. 16 Mike VanBrill looked to keep his stellar season going as he took on Cole McComas of Rider. VanBrill snatched a single leg early in the period to open the scoring and proceeded to put on a tough ride on top where McComas was warned for stalling, building up over two minutes of riding time before getting hit for his own stall warning, a questionable call at best.
At the very end of the first, VanBrill was able to wrench McComas backwards and hold him in danger to earn two nearfall points at the buzzer. VanBrill chose bottom to begin the second and was out immediately, which turned out to be the only scoring of the period as the two wrestlers traded tie-ups to end the second in neutral.
For the third, McComas decided he did not like the feel of VanBrill on top, so he chose neutral but ended up down there anyway as VanBrill worked another snatch single for a takedown and a 7-0 lead midway through the period. VanBrill finished the period on top and took out McComas by major decision, 8-0, once the riding time point was added.
The last match of the first half of the dual saw Rutgers’ Rob Kanniard make his return to the mat after missing the previous two duals as he met Alec Bobchin at 157lbs, and the Scarlet Knight wasted no time in securing the match opening takedown to take the early lead.
Bobchin was able to earn an escape after a 15 second ride from Kanniard and the two traded shot attempts before Kanniard bullied Bobchin to the mat at the end of the period for two more, where Bobchin earned another escape.
Kanniard led 4-2 entering the second and chose the bottom position before earning a quick escape that was the extent of the scoring in the period, despite several shot attempts from Kanniard.
The Scarlet Knight was in the top position for the third and let Bobchin out right away. Kanniard, who led 5-3 after the Bobchin escape, then cleared the Rider wrestler’s arms and blasted through him with a double leg to gain another takedown.
Bobchin was able to earn an escape late, but it was Kanniard’s night and after the riding time point was added, he took the 8-4 decision to complete the first half sweep for Rutgers.
Rutgers led 17-0 at intermission and to kick off the second half of the meet, we were at 165lbs where Rutgers Andrew Clark took on Michael Wilson. Rutgers’ Clark earned the first takedown of the match right away and went to work on top, working a tilt that he couldn’t quite lock in for nearfall points.
Clark was able to rack up almost two-minutes of riding time before Wilson earned his escape and it was 2-1 Clark after one. To begin the second, Clark was in the top position but chose to let Wilson up before the whistle sounded, likely trying to avoid a third caution call after picking up two in the first.
Wilson was the aggressor throughout the period, but no points came from any of his attempts and it was 2-2 entering the third. Clark was in the bottom position to begin the period and was able to earn an escape, but Wilson brought Clark’s riding time down below a minute, negating the potential point.
Despite some late attempts from Wilson, it was the Scarlet Knight Clark holding on for the 3-2 victory, snapping a five-match losing skid in the process.
At 174lbs, Connor O’Neill of the Scarlet Knights was up against Shane Reitsma in a rematch of the 2020 NJ State Final at 170lbs which saw O’Neill prevail 3-1. The first period featured a lot of hand-fighting but no scoring, as the wrestlers obviously respected the skillset of their opponent.
O’Neill was in the top position to begin the second and Reitsma was out after a 30 second ride from O’Neill. Midway through the period, O’Neill was in deep on a shot and appeared to put Reitsma in danger, but the official thought otherwise and it was 1-0 Reitsma after two.
O’Neill chose bottom to start the third and was out instantly, but it was Reitsma who was able to convert a takedown off a low single before O’Neill got out again. There were fireworks at the end of the bout as O’Neill earned a takedown with ten seconds left but Reitsma was able to reverse him right at the buzzer for Rider’s first (and only) win on the evening.
The Rider crowd on hand at Jersey Mike’s Arena reacted as if Reitsma won the national title, and it’s always nice to see a team’s fans travel to support their squads.
Another Scarlet Knight making his return to the mat after a brief hiatus was the No. 7 ranked wrestler at 184lbs nationally John Poznanski, who took on Evan Vasquez of the Broncs. Rutgers’ Poznanski looked fresh and was in quick for a takedown before Vasquez earned an escape right off the whistle.
Another takedown from Poznanski followed right away and then he went to work on top, digging for an armbar. Vasquez was hit with a stall warning as Poznanski was smothering him on top and it was 4-1 in favor of the Scarlet Knight after one.
Poznanski chose bottom to start the second and earned an escape quickly before gathering his third takedown of the match. Poznanski let Vasquez up before securing another takedown on a go-behind to extend his lead to 9-2.
Vasquez was hit for another stall warning, and Poznanski took a 10-2 lead into the third. Vasquez wisely chose neutral to start the third, but Poznanski was right back in again for his fifth takedown of the match before securing two nearfall points off a half nelson.
Vasquez was then hit for his third stall call of the match, doing his best to keep pace with Poznanski’s takedown total. Poznanski cut Vasquez again with 30 seconds left before securing his sixth takedown and earned the technical fall after the riding time point was added, 18-3. Welcome back, Poz.
Up at 197lbs, Rutgers No. 6 Greg Bulsak looked to end a three-match skid as he was up against Azeem Bell of Rider. Normal 197lbs starter for the Broncs and former Rutgers wrestler Matt Correnti didn’t weigh for the dual so Bell got the call.
Bulsak earned a takedown about a minute into the bout and Bell was out quickly. Bulsak scored another takedown off of a go-behind and quickly tilted Bell to his back for four nearfall points, as he took an 8-1 lead into the second.
Bulsak chose bottom to start the second and earned an escape ten seconds in. Bulsak scored a takedown late in the period and was able to wrench Bell over to his back, almost securing a fall, but had to settle for four nearfall points and the technical fall win, 16-1 as the buzzer sounded in the second period.
The final match of the evening featured the big boys as Boone McDermott of the Scarlet Knights saw David Szuba of Rider and it was the Bronc wrestler who was able to collect McDermott’s legs for the early takedown.
McDermott was out quickly and tied up Szuba for the huge throw to his back. McDermott held him there before readjusting his position to secure the fall in the first period. A huge victory for McDermott as he had struggled lately with the rigor of the Big Ten schedule.
A dominant, if not expected effort from Rutgers was just what the doctor ordered as they prepare for another tough Big Ten challenge on Sunday against No. 8 Ohio State.
Shawver looks very strong for 125lbs as he was in control of Klinsky from the opening whistle as he prepares for a big test Sunday against No. 10 Malik Heniselman of Ohio State.
Joey Olivieri was in trouble a few times during his match but showed real moxie in securing the major decision win at the end of the match with that cradle.
Sebastian Rivera looked human for the first time this season against Kinner, a lanky wrestler who managed Rivera’s aggressiveness well throughout the match.
Mike VanBrill continues to look strong on top, holding tough angles that give his opponents fits. It was also great to see him score some nearfall points tonight, as he’ll need that weapon going into the postseason.
Kanniard was back out there at 157lbs tonight and continues to have moments in his matches where he absolutely bullies his opponent, but with that aggressive comes too many 50/50 positions where he can sometimes falter. The double leg he secured in the third period tonight was textbook and put a stamp on a welcome back victory.
It was great to see Clark get a win at 165lbs, but it felt like he could have done more in that match to extend his lead. Clark gets another beast of the Big Ten Sunday in No. 4 Carson Kharchla, so hopefully he can build on this win.
O’Neill seems like he needs to pull the trigger more in his matches because when he does, he gets in deep. He also has a tough one Sunday as Ohio State will bring the No. 7 ranked wrestler nationally to the dual in Ethan Smith.
The Poz was back in the lineup and looked like the monster he should, scoring six takedowns on his way to a tech fall win. A top ten matchup looms on Sunday as he’ll likely face Kaleb Romero, who is ranked 6th in the country.
Bulsak absolutely had his opponent pinned in the second period despite the non-call by the official and he also looked great in snapping his three-match losing streak, working tilts and bars to secure his tech fall win.
Boone McDermott put a cherry on the dual (and any questions regarding his starting role) with an absolute beast of a throw to pin a very tough Szuba of Rider.
Rutgers scored 16 team points in the last three matches, as all three of them bounced back strongly from a rough stretch.
No. 8 Ohio State comes calling at noon on Sunday at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway. I’ll have a full preview of the dual up Saturday, with quotes from Coach Goodale and Joey Olivieri. The actions on Sunday can be watched via BTN Plus ($$).
Box Score: Rutgers 36, Rider 3
125: No. 29 Dylan Shawver vs Tyler Klinsky - Shawver by dec., 8-3
133: No. 18 Joey Olivieri vs Richie Koehler - Olivieri by major dec., 14-4
141: No. 3 Sebastian Rivera vs No. 25 Quinn Kinner - Rivera by dec., 7-3
149: No. 16 Mike VanBrill vs Cole McComas - VanBrill by major dec., 8-0
157: Rob Kanniard vs Alec Bobchin - Kanniard by dec., 8-4
165: Andrew Clark vs Michael Wilson - Clark by dec., 3-2
174: Connor O’Neill vs Shane Reitsma - Reitsma by dec., 5-4
184: No. 7 John Poznanski vs Evan Vasquez - Poznanski by tech. fall, 18-3
197: No. 6 Greg Bulsak vs Azeem Bell - Bulsak by tech. fall, 16-1
285: Boone McDermott vs David Szuba - McDermott by FALL