Wild. No other word better encapsulates day one at the 2022 NCAA Championships as each match seemed to be appointment viewing as fans across the country needed to stay tuned-in to the eight-mat feed on ESPNU to make sure every upset and big move wasn’t missed.
Rutgers Wrestling had seven wrestlers compete in the first two sessions on day one of the 2022 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Detroit, Michigan Thursday, and No. 3 Sebastian Rivera (141lbs) is remains in contention for a gold medal when action concluded Thursday night.
He’ll be joined by five teammates in Friday morning’s third session as the Scarlet Knights went 4-1 in the opening round of the consolation bracket. No. 23 Dylan Shawver (125lbs) and No. 22 Joe Olivieri (133lbs) both making their national tournament debuts, dropped their opening bouts but rebounded in the lower bracket to advance.
Mike VanBrill, No. 12 at 149lbs also fell in his first-round match in the championship bracket but picked up his first win at the end of year tournament in his consolation bracket match.
After falling to Kyle Cochran of Maryland early Thursday, No. 20 John Poznanski got his hand raised for a much-needed win in his lower bracket, looking strong in the process.
No. 14 Greg Bulsak took out Cornell’s No. 19 Jacob Cardenas in his first-round bout but fell to No. 3 Eric Schultz of Nebraska in a tightly contested round two match in the championship bracket. He’ll also wrestler in the consolation bracket Friday morning, looking to make a run at an All-American finish.
As a team, Rutgers finished the day tied for 19th place with Princeton and Stanford with nine points.
Match by match recaps can be found below.
Dylan Shawver, the 23rd seed took on a Big Ten foe in the opening round of the tournament, the 10th seeded Michael DeAugustino of Northwestern. A late first period takedown from DeAugustino was the difference in the match as Shawver fell 3-1.
Shawver was in deep on shot attempts several times throughout the match, but the defense from DeAugustino was too strong and the Scarlet Knight couldn’t convert. With the loss, Shawver fell to the consolation bracket where he looked to make a run to a 3rd place finish.
In his first-round consolation match, Shawver was up against No. 26 Kysen Terukina of Iowa State and Terukina hit a textbook high-crotch early in the first to open the scoring. Shawver would earn a quick escape and then countered a shot from Terukina on the edge to lead 3-2 after one.
A Terukina escape would be the only scoring of the second period and Shawver opened the third with an escape of his own. Shawver then would convert a high-crotch attempt for a takedown and would hold on for the 6-4 win to move on to tomorrow morning’s second round consolation matches.
True freshman Joe Olivieri, the 22nd seeded wrestler at 133lbs, started his bracket with 11th seeded Devon Turner of Oregon State. Olivieri opened the scoring with a slick go-behind off a shot attempt from Turner, but after that, the Beaver took control.
Turner worked a wrist tilt off the whistle in the second for four nearfall points and added on two takedowns to take out Olivieri 10-4. Olivieri now looks to the consolation bracket to continue his tournament.
Malyke Hines of Lehigh, the No. 27 seed would be Olivieri’s next opponent, and the Scarlet Knight scored the first points of the match with a standing cradle attempt into a takedown. Olivieri was strong on top to finish out the first, so Hines chose neutral to start the second period.
Hines would take advantage of some over-aggressiveness by Olivieri to secure a takedown on the edge, but the persistent Rutgers freshman picked up a reversal about a minute later.
Olivieri would also choose neutral when he was given the option to start the 3rd and mimicked Hines with a takedown after bouncing the Mountain Hawk on the mat several times before getting behind for the conversion.
Hines would escape shortly after, but it wasn’t enough and Olivieri also moves on to Friday morning’s consolation round two.
Three-time NCAA All-American and 3rd seed at 141lbs Sebastian Rivera saw a super lanky Jacob Butler from Oklahoma, the 30th seed in his opening round bout. Lanky wrestlers are sometimes an issue for Rivera, but not here, as the Scarlet Knight utilized multiple techniques for five takedowns, all with quick finishes, en route to a 12-3 major decision win. Rivera finished every period in the top position, illustrating his dominance in this first round match.
Finishing takedown attempts quickly is extremely important when taking on longer opponents like Butler, as their length gives them an advantage in most scrambling situations. With the win, Rivera moved on to the second session where he would meet fellow three-time AA Chad Red of Nebraska.
That second-round match turned out to be a barnburner as the former All-Americans would have a wild nine-point third period. The mat official was involved early and often, dishing out cautions and stall calls that would end up playing a huge role in the outcome of the match.
Rivera would lead 3-0 after the second, with both wrestlers having been dinged for a stall warning entering the final frame. Red would earn a quick escape and takedown to tie the match while creeping close to securing a riding time point but Rivera would counter with a reversal to regain the lead late.
Red then hit his own reversal to again tie the score at five and would bring his riding time over a minute for the extra point and the apparent win but was hit with a second stall warning giving Rivera the match tying point as time expired.
The two would head to a sudden victory period where Rivera would come out as the aggressor, shooting Red out of bounds, and forcing the official to ding Red once again for stalling, giving Rivera a point and the win, 7-6.
Rivera now advances to tomorrow morning’s championship quarterfinals against 6th seeded Cole Matthews of Pittsburgh. Of note, Iowa’s 2nd seeded Jaydin Eierman fell in his second-round match to 15th seeded Kizhan Clarke of North Carolina, a big upset in Rivera’s half of the bracket.
In the final tournament of his collegiate career, 12th seeded Mike VanBrill suffered a heartbreaking loss in his opening round match against Cleveland State’s Marcus Robinson, the 21st seed.
Leading throughout the bout, VanBrill gave up a takedown followed by a wrist tilt for two nearfall points at the buzzer to fall 7-5. VanBrill held a one-point lead late in the match after a first period ankle pick and a strong ride in the second but couldn’t hang on in the end.
VanBrill would head to the consolation bracket where he was still in play for an All-American finish if he could make a run.
For his first-round consolation match, VanBrill faced off against No. 28 Kody Komara of Kent State where he would show off his strong riding skillset and defense to shutout the Golden Flasher.
The first period was scoreless despite a few scrambles, but VanBrill went to work in the second, earning a quick escape before wrenching Komara over from the neutral position to gain a takedown via a danger call.
VanBrill would finish the second period on top and it was more of the same in the third as the Scarlet Knight rode out Komara for the entire period en route to a 4-0 decision win, his first ever at the national tournament.
VanBrill heads to round two of the consolations Saturday morning where he’ll take on 6th seeded App State wrestler Johnathan Millner.
Looking to pick up a measure of revenge in his pigtail-round bout after falling to Maryland’s 32nd seeded Dom Solis twice earlier in the season, Rutgers 33rd seeded Connor O’Neill did just that, decking the Terp late in the first period. It was a great and moreover important win for the Scarlet Knight, who now entered the main bracket looking to make some noise.
In his first-round match in the championship bracket, O’Neill looked to pull what would have been the upset of the tournament against returning National Champion and No. 1 seed Carter Starocci of Penn State.
The Nittany Lion put that thought to bed early, though, building a 19-7 lead in the third period before securing the fall late to take out the Scarlet Knight. O’Neill would now head down the consolation bracket hoping to keep his tournament run alive.
Unfortunately, O’Neill’s tournament would come to an end as he fell in his first-round consolation match to Penn’s No. 17 seed Nick Icontrera via an opening period fall.
O’Neill accounted for a third of Rutgers total team score after action ended on Thursday on the back of his opening round pin of Dom Solis, a huge contribution from the Green Brook, NJ product.
Taking on No. 13 Kyle Cochran of Maryland for the third time this season, Rutgers’ 20th seed John Poznanski looked to flip the script after falling in their first two meetings. Although it was another close match between the Big Ten foes, Poznanski again couldn’t find his offense beyond a first period reversal and fell to the Terp, 7-3.
The Scarlet Knight Poznanski looked strong on top in the first after picking up his reversal, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the two takedowns from Cochran.
For Poznanski, it was another fellow Big Ten wrestler standing opposite him in his first-round consolation match as Wisconsin’s No. 29 seed Chris Weiler stepped up to take on the Scarlet Knight.
Poznanski earned a win over Weiler during the regular season, and he was able to put on a repeat performance here, taking out the Badger 6-1. The match was never really in doubt as Poznanski opened it up with a takedown in the first and collected two minutes of riding time by the end of the period.
A quick escape from Poznanski would be the only points in the second, but the Scarlet Knight would ice the match in the third with a second takedown. It was a big win for Poznanski, who needed some positive results in a bad way.
He looked strong getting to his shots and was able to escape quickly when he was on bottom, a very good sign for the returning All-American.
The tried-and-true method of smothering rides and nifty defensive wrestling proved to be the winning formula once again for Rutgers’ 14th seed at 197lbs Greg Bulsak, who took out Cornell’s Jacob Cardenas, the 19th seed, in his opening round bout.
Bulsak countered a shot from Cardenas with a strong go-behind for a takedown and nearly ripped the former two-time NJ State Champion’s arm off looking for a power half. Cardenas was close to working a tilt in the second period, but it was the result of an illegal mat return and Bulsak would be awarded a point.
The third period featured a legendary scramble that almost resulted in a Cardenas takedown before Bulsak squirmed out of danger. The Scarlet Knight added a late takedown to seal the 7-0 victory and would move on in the championship bracket.
Bulsak’s second round opponent was the third overall seed Eric Schultz of Nebraska and the two wasted no time getting after each other. Each traded solid shot attempts with even stronger defense and an action packed first period would end scoreless.
Bulsak earned a quick escape to open the second, but Schultz then ran through the Scarlet Knight, securing a takedown before another immediate escape from Bulsak. Schultz obviously had the scouting report on Bulsak and had no interest in starting the final frame in the bottom position, so the Cornhusker chose neutral, a decision that paid off when he hit another takedown midway through the period.
Bulsak was close to reversing Schultz on the edge but couldn’t secure it, instead earning an escape point to trail by one late. Schultz was hit with a stall warning but that would be it as Bulsak fell 4-3. He’ll continue his tournament tomorrow morning in the consolation bracket, with a bronze medal finish still in play.
That does it for day one, and it was about as crazy as it could be, but six Scarlet Knights remain alive for All-American finishes heading into Friday morning’s third session. Action picks back up at 11:00AM EST with all the matches streaming on ESPNU. The full schedule can be found via the NCAA here.
125: No. 23 Dylan Shawver (1-1)
Rd. 1 vs No. 10 Michael DeAugstino (Northwestern) loses by dec., 3-1
Conso. Rd. 1 vs No. 26 Kysen Terukina (Iowa State) wins by dec., 6-4
Conso. Rd. 2 vs No. 25 Caleb Smith (App State)
133: No. 22 Joe Olivieri (1-1)
Rd. 1 vs No. 11 Devan Turner (Oregon State) loses by dec., 10-4
Conso. Rd. 1 vs No. 27 Malyke Hines (Lehigh) wins by dec., 7-3
Conso. Rd. 2 vs No. 12 Micky Phillippi (Pitt)
141: No. 3 Sebastian Rivera (2-0)
Rd. 1 vs No. 30 Jacob Butler (Oklahoma) wins by major dec., 12-3
Rd. 2 vs No. 19 Chad Red (Nebraska) wins by dec., 7-6 (SV1)
Quarterfinals vs No. 6 Cole Matthews (Pittsburgh)
149: No. 12 Mike VanBrill (1-1)
Rd. 1 vs No. 21 Marcus Robinson (Cleveland State) loses by dec., 7-5
Conso. Rd. 1 vs No. 28 Kody Komara (Kent State) wins by dec., 4-0
Conso. Rd. 2 vs No. 6 Johnathan Millner (App State)
174: No. 33 Connor O’Neill (1-2) Eliminated
Pigtail Rd. vs No. 32 Dom Solis (Maryland) wins by FALL
Rd. 1 vs No. 1 Carter Starocci (Penn State) loses by FALL
Conso. Rd. 1 vs No. 17 Nick Icontrera (Penn) loses by FALL
184: No. 20 John Poznanski (1-1)
Rd.1 vs No. 13 Kyle Cochran (Maryland) loses by dec., 7-3
Conso. Rd. 1 vs No. 29 Chris Weiler (Wisconsin) wins by dec., 6-1
Conso. Rd. 2 vs No. 19 Isaiah Salazar (Minnesota)
197: No. 14 Greg Bulsak (1-1)
Rd. 1 vs No. 19 Jacob Cardenas (Cornell) wins by dec., 7-0
Rd. 2 vs No. 3 Eric Schultz (Nebraska) loses by dec., 4-3
Conso. Rd. 2 vs No. 20 Jacob Koser (Navy)