On a beautiful, if not frigid Sunday afternoon in Piscataway, the No. 17 ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights (13-5, 2-5) hosted the perennial powerhouse, yet injury depleted Ohio State Buckeyes (7-3, 3-3) at Jersey Mike’s Arena.
Unfortunately for the home team, a pair of losses in the upperweights, in matches they were favored to win, kept them from pulling off the upset as the Buckeyes took the dual 19-14. The usually steady No. 7 John Poznanski and No. 6 Greg Bulsak both fell, which hurts especially considering a win from either would have resulted in a Rutgers match victory.
The Scarlet Knights had the advantage at intermission as they took three of five matches early on, but only gained one victory in the second half of the meet.
The opening bout of the dual saw Rutgers’ No. 29 Dylan Shawver taking on the Buckeye’s No. 10 ranked Malik Heinselman and the two wrestlers spent the majority of the first trading tie-ups and half-hearted shots until Heinselman gained a takedown two minutes into the period.
Heinselman was warned for stalling quickly into his ride and Shawver earned his escape moments later. Shawver was in the top position to begin the second and Heinselman got out right away for the escape point.
Shawver was close to scoring on a go-behind midway through the period, but Heinselman showed some slick defense in avoiding the takedown. It was 3-1 in favor of the Buckeye entering the third and Shawver chose bottom to start the period and he earned an escape right away.
It was Heinselman shortly thereafter gaining his second takedown of the match before another escape from Shawver. A crazy scramble near the end of the bout where Shawver was all but behind Heinselman for the takedown before the Buckeye wiggled out of it and hung on as time expired to take the 5-3 decision win.
Next up, No. 18 Joey Olivieri was up against Dylan Koontz and the Scarlet Knight was in deep on a shot right off the whistle, but Koontz was able to avoid the takedown on the edge of the mat.
Olivieri again had Koontz’ leg in the air but couldn’t convert as Ohio State was showing strong defense in the first two matches. Olivieri was finally able to get behind the lanky Buckeye for two points at the end of the first and the Scarlet Knight chose bottom to begin the second.
Olivieri earned his escape quickly and then showed off some slick defense of his own, turning a Koontz shot into his own points and a 5-0 lead as time expired in the second. Shawver was in the top position to start the third and Koontz earned an escape right away before Olivieri blasted through the Buckeye with a double leg.
Koontz was again out quickly but Olivieri got his riding time over a minute beforehand. After an extended lock up on the edge, Olivieri continued his match ending heroics with a takedown into a cradle to gain the major decision victory after the riding time point was added, 10-2.
Our second ranked matchup of the afternoon featured Rutgers’ No. 3 Sebastian Rivera squaring off with No. 20 Dylan D’Emilio of the Buckeyes and Rivera got his first takedown just seconds into the match.
Rivera stood D’Emilio up on the restart, looking to get back to work with his takedowns, of which the second came shortly after. D’emilio earned an escape after a tilt attempt from Rivera, but the Scarlet Knight was right back in on another shot, though he couldn’t convert, as the Buckeye was hit for a stall warning.
Rivera’s third takedown of the match came with ten seconds left in the first and he led 6-2 after one. Rivera was in the top position to begin the second and D’Emilio was out after a minute ride from Rivera.
The fourth takedown from Rivera came with 15 seconds left in the second and it was 8-3 in favor of the Scarlet Knight after two. Rivera chose bottom for the third and was out instantly to add to his lead. Rivera hit his fifth takedown shortly thereafter and let D’Emilio up, where the Buckeye was hit for his second stall warning of the match.
Rivera’s sixth and seventh takedowns came in quick succession, and he finished the match with his eighth(!) takedown to take a major decision win, 20-6, barely missing out on a technical fall.
One of the featured matches of the dual was at 149lbs where the Scarlet Knight’s No. 16 ranked Mike VanBrill took on returning national runner-up and No. 2 ranked Sammy Sasso in a rematch of their bout from last season’s dual that saw Sasso take the 11-5 decision.
VanBrill had Sasso’s leg in the air right away and was close to a takedown, but it was waved off by the official. A challenge from the Rutgers bench followed, apparently looking for an illegal hold call on Sasso, but no points were awarded, and the wrestlers were back in neutral position.
VanBrill then hiit a merkle for a takedown with a minute left in the period, the same move he hit on Sasso last season, to take the lead after the first. VanBrill chose bottom to begin the second and earned an escape after 25 seconds.
Sasso converted a takedown on the edge and then was awarded an additional point for an illegal head-scissor from VanBrill and the match was knotted at three heading into the third.
VanBrill was in top position for the final period and Sasso earned an escape quickly before the Buckeye gained his second takedown of the match. Sasso held on to take out the Scarlet Knight by decision, 6-3, but it appears VanBrill is closing the gap with one of the nation’s best.
The final match before intermission saw Rutgers’ Rob Kanniard taking on Isaac Wilcox of Ohio State. The Buckeye’s normal starter here, Jashon Hubbard, did not weigh in for the dual, which was almost a theme for the visiting squad today.
Kanniard showed off his stellar defense on the first shot attempt from Wilcox, almost converting the attempt into his own points before the wrestlers separated. A scramble on the edge of the mat at the end of the period resulted in a takedown for Wilcox before Kanniard earned an escape to close out the first.
Kanniard chose bottom to start the second and the Scarlet Knight escaped thirty seconds in. Kanniard then came with the highlight reel worthy 360-spin into a single leg that he converted on the edge of the mat to lead 4-2 after two. “I’ve seen that move not work, but good performance today from Rob,” said Coach Goodale.
Kanniard began the third in the top position and Wilcox earned a quick escape before another wild scramble resulted with Kanniard ending up on top of Wilcox for another takedown. Wilcox earned an escape near the end of the match, but it wasn’t enough as Kanniard held on to take the decision, 6-4.
At intermission, the Scarlet Knights led 11-6, taking three of five matches, including two major decisions.
After the break, Andrew Clark was up for the Scarlet Knights at 165lbs where he dodged a major bullet as Ohio State’s No. 4 ranked wrestler Carson Kharchla also did not weigh in here, so it was Kevon Freeman, normally a 157lbs combatant, stepping in to take on the Scarlet Knight.
The first period saw little action as neither wrestler was close to scoring and Clark was on top to begin the second. Clark put on a solid ride for the first minute before conceding a reversal, but then hit one of his own to get back in the top position, where the period would end.
It was tied at two entering the third, and Clark chose bottom to begin the action, and he earned his escape 20 seconds into the period. Clark then was in deep on a double leg and after an extended scramble, finished on top for a two point takedown. Freeman escaped at the buzzer, but Clark took the decision win 6-3.
Next up at 174lbs, Rutgers sent out Connor O’Neill to take on the Buckeye’s No. 7 ranked Ethan Smith and the Ohio State wrestler was quickly in on a single leg attempt he converted for two before an escape from O’Neill.
Smith picked up his second takedown shortly after, which was followed by another escape from O’Neill. Smith picked up two more takedowns back to back, with an O’Neill escape after each one and the Buckeye led 8-4 after one.
O’Neill was on top to start the second and Smith was able to earn a reversal 20 seconds into the period before another escape from O’Neill. Smith was then able to gain a takedown off a shot attempt from O’Neill to extend his lead to 12-5 after two.
O’Neill chose bottom for the final period and was let up right away by Smith. A takedown from Smith followed and the Ohio State wrestler started looking for tilts to gain nearfall points, but Clark held strong before he was eventually let up again.
The takedown clinic from Smith continued and he hit another two before the match would end, giving him the 19-8 major decision win.
At 184lbs, we were due for a top-ten showdown as Rutgers’ No. 7 John Poznanski was scheduled to face No. 6 Kaleb Romero, but Romero also did not weigh in, so the Buckeyes sent out Rocky Jordan, a two-time national qualifier that Poznanski took out last season.
Poznanski showed off his defensive chops early, fighting off two strong attempts from Jordan and it was scoreless after one. Poznanski chose bottom to begin the second and earned his escape 15 seconds into the period before shooting in on Jordan and scoring the first takedown of the match.
Jordan escaped quickly and it was 3-1 Poznanski after two. Poznanski was in the top position to start the third, but it was Jordan hitting a reversal after a locked hands call on Poznanski to take the lead with a minute remaining in the match where he held on to score the big upset over the Scarlet Knight, 4-3.
The final ranked matchup of the afternoon saw Rutgers’ No. 6 Greg Bulsak taking on No. 21 Gavin Hoffman of Ohio State and outside of a scramble midway through the period, there was little action in the first.
Bulsak was on top to begin the second and the Buckeye hit a reversal about a minute in before a Bulsak escape. The period would end with the wrestlers in neutral and Bulsak chose bottom to start the third, where Hoffman let him up right away.
The two traded shot attempts but no scoring came of them and we were headed to sudden victory. In the overtime period, the Buckeye gained a quick takedown to take the match by decision, 4-2.
The meet would come down to the last bout as Ohio State led 16-14 on the team score heading into the heavyweight showdown. Rutgers sent out Boone McDermott to take on No. 13 Tate Orndorff of Ohio State and the two traded upper body locks but neither could convert as the first period ended scoreless.
McDermott chose bottom to begin the second and earned an escape right away. Orndorff was able to snatch a single leg and convert on the edge for the first takedown of the bout and rode McDermott out for the rest of the second to lead 2-1 after two.
Entering the final period of the dual, McDermott was in the top position and held Orndorff down long enough to erase the Buckeye wrestler’s potential riding time point, but Orndorff converted another takedown off his escape and finished the bout on top to earn the 6-1 decision after the riding time point was added.
This was a squandered opportunity, but the squad was strong in the lower and middleweights, building a 14-6 lead after six matches. Regardless, the Scarlet Knights should have won here, especially considering Ohio State was missing three starters. What matters most is obviously how the team performs in March, but a win here would have been big for the program on many levels.
Shawver put on a solid performance against the highly ranked Heinselman, who displayed some crazy defense in avoiding Shawver’s multiple go-behind attempts.
Olivieri was back with his end of match heroics, securing his second major decision in a row at the conclusion of his bout. Coach Goodale praised Olivieri’s match day preparation in the post match presser.
Rivera once again looked like a man among boys, scoring a whopping eight takedowns against his ranked opponent to get back to his dominant ways.
VanBrill is closing the gap between him and the elite of the Big Ten and has a lot of build on with his performance today.
Kanniard had another wild match, utilizing a 360 spin at one point to get to his opponents’ legs and secure a takedown.
Clark looked solid in taking out a backup for the Buckeyes at 165lbs, a result that had most in the arena thinking the upset was in reach for the Scarlet Knights.
O’Neill survived a takedown clinic from his highly ranked opponent to only surrender a major decision that looked like it could’ve been worse in the beginning of the match.
Poznanski looked out of sorts in the third period in his upset loss to Jordan and appeared to just be a step behind his opponent.
Bulsak lost a close overtime decision against a ranked opponent as he drops to 4-4 in Big Ten competition on the season.
McDermott continues to be a solid Big Ten heavyweight, but just not at the level of the top tier guys from the conference.
The Scarlet Knights close out Big Ten dual competition next Saturday as they host the Terps of Maryland at 2:00PM at Jersey Mike’s Arena. The meet will have a national broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
Box Score: No. 8 Ohio State 19, No. 17 Rutgers 14
125: No. 29 Dylan Shawver vs No. 10 Malik Heinselman - Heinselman by dec., 5-3
133: No. 18 Joey Olivieri vs Dylan Koontz – Olivieri by major dec., 10-2
141: No. 3 Sebastian Rivera vs No. 20 Dylan D’Emilio – Rivera by major dec., 20-6
149: No. 16 Mike VanBrill vs No. 2 Sammy Sasso – Sasso by dec., 6-3
157: Rob Kanniard vs Isaac Wilcox – Kanniard by dec., 6-4
165: Andrew Clark vs Kevon Freeman – Clark by dec., 6-3
174: Connor O’Neill vs No. 7 Ethan Smith – Smith by major dec., 19-8
184: No. 7 John Poznanski vs Rocky Jordan – Jordan by dec., 4-3
197: No. 6 Greg Bulsak vs No. 21 Gavin Hoffman – Hoffman by dec., 4-2
285: Boone McDermott vs No. 13 Tate Orndorff – Orndorff by dec., 6-1