Friday morning wasn’t great for the Scarlet Knights.
Friday night was a lot better.
Rutgers Wrestling closed out day two at the 2022 NCAA Championships Friday night with two wrestlers earning All-American honors for the 6th straight time at the national tournament as Sebastian Rivera (141lbs) and Greg Bulsak (197lbs) cemented their place in Rutgers Wrestling history.
No. 3 Rivera fell in his championship quarterfinal bout, but rebounded strongly in the consolation bracket, winning two matches in the evening session to guarantee at least a top-six finish.
Bulsak reeled off three streak consolation round victories before falling in the fifth round and he’ll wrestle for 7th place Saturday morning.
No. 23 Dylan Shawver (125lbs) and No. 20 John Poznanski (184lbs) each picked up an additional win in the consolation bracket before being eliminated while Joe Olivieri (133lbs) and Mike VanBrill (149lbs) lost their first matches Friday morning, ending their tournaments.
As a team, Rutgers finished Friday night with 24 points, which had them tied for 20th place with Northern Iowa.
A full match by match recap is up next. If you missed my day one recap, you can find it here.
125lbs: No. 23 Dylan Shawver took on No. 25 Caleb Smith of App State in his second-round consolation match and despite a wild finish, the Scarlet Knight hung on to advance in his bracket, 10-7.
There was a lot of good action back and forth early, with Shawver hitting a takedown two minutes into the first frame with another coming in the second after a stellar defense put him in a good position to score.
A pair of escapes were the only points for Smith heading into the third and he fell behind even further after another takedown from Shawver.
The App State wrestler then picked up a third escape, sandwiched two takedowns between two stall warnings on Shawver, before giving up a match clinching takedown to the Scarlet Knight. Shawver moved on, needing two more wins to secure All-American status.
Shawver would come up short in his third-round consolation match, as the funky style his opponent, No. 18 Noah Surtin of Missouri proved to be the difference in the bout. Shawver appeared to score the match opening takedown, but the call was reversed after a challenge from the Missouri bench.
Surtin took full advantage, scoring a takedown off an extended scramble and picking up two nearfall points to close out the first. Shawver gave up a quick reversal in the second and Surtin rode out the rest of the period before a neutral start to the third.
Shawver hit two big takedowns in the final frame, including tripping Surtin to his back, but couldn’t hold him there and his comeback would fall short, as Surtin held on for an 8-4 victory.
The loss ends Shawver’s first trip to the NCAA Championships, but the freshman impressed all season, and this will likely be just one of several appearances in the year-end tournament for the Scarlet Knight.
133lbs: True freshman Joe Olivieri, No. 22 had a rematch on his hands in his second-round consolation match as Pitt’s No. 12 Mickey Phillippi was up next. The Panther took the regular season bout, 2-0 and points were also hard to come by this time around.
All the scoring came in the second period when Phillippi picked up two escapes and a takedown to counter the lone takedown from the Scarlet Knight Olivieri to take the victory 4-2. With the loss, Olivieri’s tournament was over, ending a strong inaugural season for the young Rutgers wrestler.
141lbs: In his championship quarterfinal matchup, No. 3 Sebastian Rivera looked to punch his ticket to Friday night’s semifinal, but No. 6 Cole Matthews of Pitt utilized a strong ride and came out on top of multiple scrambles to take out the Scarlet Knight, 7-5 ending Rivera’s hopes of claiming a national title.
Rivera opened the scoring and was the main aggressor throughout the match but couldn’t score additional offensive points after the first period takedown. Matthews gained his takedowns in the first and third periods respectively, but was keen to let Rivera take the attempts, and react to them accordingly.
With the loss, Rivera fell to the consolation bracket, needing one more win to secure his 4th NCAA All-American finish.
In his blood-round (the round of 12 where a win gains you All-American honors while a loss sends you home) match, Rivera met No. 7 Clay Carlson of SDSU and despite some strong defense from Carlson, Rivera prevailed, securing his 4th NCAA All-American podium finish.
Rivera picked up two minutes of riding time after a first period takedown and led 3-2 heading into the final period. Carlson chose neutral after Rivera’s solid first period rideout, but the Scarlet Knight decided Carlson needed to hug the mat a little longer, gaining a takedown off a body lock to ice the match, 6-2 after the riding time point was added.
With the win, Rivera moved to the consolation bracket quarterfinals later Friday night and the Scarlet Knight came out like a man possessed in this consolation quarterfinal match, shutting out Minnesota’s No. 10 Jakob Bergeland with a dominant 16-0 technical fall.
Rivera countered Bergeland’s attacks with ease and smothered the Golden Gopher on top, picking up ten of his points with tilts from the top position.
The Rutgers’ graduate student guaranteed himself at least a top-6 finish with the win and will wrestle Saturday morning for a chance to compete for a bronze medal against Stanford’s No. 4 Real Woods who fell to in his Friday night semifinal match.
149lbs: No. 12 Mike VanBrill needed to pick up a pair of wins Friday morning to give himself a chance to wrestle for a top-8 and All-American finish, but No. 6 Johnathan Millner of App State, his lanky consolation round two opponent had other plans, taking the 5-1 win.
The length of Millner was an issue for VanBrill throughout the match and it started early when the Scarlet Knight had Millner’s leg in the air for 30 seconds on the edge of the mat but couldn’t convert the takedown.
Millner rode VanBrill out for the entirety of the second period and it was scoreless heading into the third, with Millner holding a significant riding time advantage. VanBrill tried to roll Millner over for nearfall points to open the third, but the official didn’t award the points and the App State worked a reversal to take the lead.
VanBrill would earn an escape but couldn’t convert any attempts from neutral before Millner picked up a late takedown to ice the match. The loss ends VanBrill’s career on the banks and we owe him a major salute for his years donning the Scarlet Knight singlet.
184lbs: Looking like he’s rounding into form, Rutgers No. 20 John Poznanski gained some revenge Friday morning in his second-round consolation match at 184lbs against No. 19 Isaiah Salazar of Minnesota, a wrestler who took out Poznanski in the Big Ten Championships two weeks ago.
This time, Poznanski used a huge third period throw for six points to put away the Golden Gopher, 10-7 and advance to the third round of consolations. Salazar hit a reversal and a late takedown, along with a few escapes to account for his points, but it wasn’t enough to take out the Scarlet Knight Poznanski.
Two wins away from a second All-American placement, Poznanski looked to keep rolling in the consolation bracket where he took on Jonathan Loew of Cornell, the 11th seed. Loew was another super long opponent (it seemed as if Rutgers was exclusively wrestling giants today) and Poznanski couldn’t convert his shot attempts because of it.
Alternatively, Loew used his long arms to counter Poznanski shots and scoop an ankle seemingly out of nowhere to convert several takedowns against the Scarlet Knight, winning 9-4.
Poznanski’s up and down second season comes to an end with the loss, but he definitely looked close to the All-American we saw last year in these last three matches this weekend.
197lbs: “I shoot, I score, he shoots, I score,” words made famous by the legendary Dan Gable came to mind during No. 14 Greg Bulsak’s 197lbs second-round consolation match against No. 20 Jacob Koser of Navy as the Scarlet Knight hammer picked up the 8-0 major decision win.
Bulsak turned Koser shot attempts into his own points twice and picked up a takedown in all three periods to shutout the Navy product, while accumulating close to three minutes of riding time in the process. Bulsak would moved on, needing two more wins to secure All-American status.
Bulsak carried the momentum into his round three consolation bout against No. 11 Thomas Penola of Purdue, who took out Bulsak at the Big Ten Championships in their first meeting. This time, a wild exchange in the third period was the difference as Bulsak come out on top an extended scramble that saw Penola hit a textbook ankle pick, only to have the Scarlet Knight funk his way out of it and convert his own takedown on the Boilermaker.
Penola would earn an escape with 30 seconds left, but Bulsak put on his skates and avoided the multiple takedown attempts from Penola.
With the victory, Bulsak closed out his morning session just needing one more win to finish as an All-American in Friday night’s blood-round.
Bulsak was a hammer all season for the Scarlet Knights, and against Binghamton’s No. 8 Lou Deprez, he found another nail.
The Scarlet Knight displayed incredible defense on several occasions where he looked dead to rights and used a late reversal and rideout to earn All-American honors in his last trip to the big dance.
Bulsak’s athleticism is hard to put into words and even harder for opponents to contend with as he moves like Penn State’s returning 133lbs National Champion Roman Bravo-Young.
The Scarlet Knight Bulsak had another match Friday night, again looking to keep climbing in the bracket, now with his AA status locked up.
In his final bout Friday night, No. 10 Yonger Bastida of Iowa State was Bulsak’s opponent, and the Cyclone used a pair of late period takedowns to send Bulsak to the 7th place match Saturday morning.
Bulsak couldn’t find his offense against Bastida and the incredible defense he displayed in his blood-round match lacked in this spot, as Bastida took the tight 4-3 decision.
The two engaged in an extended scramble to end the match, with Bulsak close enough to scoring that the Rutgers bench threw in the challenge brick as time expired, but it was Bastida who was confirmed the winner after review.
Bulsak will next be in action Saturday morning in a rematch for the 7th place medal against No. 3 Eric Schultz of Nebraska who took out the Scarlet Knight 4-3 in championship round two Thursday night.
One more session of wrestling remains in the 2021-22 season for the Scarlet Knights. With two All-American podium finishes confirmed, they salvaged a rough Friday morning with some stellar performances in the evening session.
The next round of wrestling will take place Saturday morning at 11:00AM EST and will be aired on Watch ESPN. The finals will take place later that day at 7:00PM EST on traditional ESPN. Updated brackets can be found here.
125: No. 23 Dylan Shawver (2-2) Eliminated
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) wins by dec., 10-7
Conso. Rd. 3 vs No. 18 Noah Surtin (Mizzou) loses by dec., 8-4
133: No. 22 Joe Olivieri (1-2) Elminated
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) loses by dec., 4-2
141: No. 3 Sebastian Rivera (4-1) 2022 All-American
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) loses by dec., 7-5
Conso. Rd. 4 vs No. 7 Clay Carlson (SDSU) – wins by dec., 6-2
Conso. Quarterfinals vs No. 10 Jakob Bergeland (Minnesota) wins by tech. fall, 16-0
Conso. Semifinals vs No. 4 Real Woods
149: No. 12 Mike VanBrill (1-2) Eliminated
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) loses by dec., 5-1
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 (2-2) Eliminated
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) wins by dec., 10-7
Conso. Rd. 3 vs No. 11 Jonathan Loew (Cornell) loses by dec., 9-4
197: 14th Seed Greg Bulsak (3-1) 2022 All-American
Rd. 1 vs 19th Seed Jacob Cardenas (Cornell) wins by dec., 7-0
Rd. 2 vs 3rd Seed Eric Schultz (Nebraska) loses by dec., 4-3
Conso. Rd. 2 vs No. 20 Jacob Koser (Navy) wins by major dec., 8-0
Conso. Rd. 3 vs No. 11 Thomas Penola (Purdue) wins by dec., 5-3
Conso. Rd. 4 vs No. 8 Lou Deprez (Binghamton) wins by dec., 3-2
Conso. Quarterfinals vs No. 10 Yonger Bastida (Iowa St) loses by dec., 4-3
7th Place Match vs No. 3 Eric Schultz (Nebraska)