No. 15 Rutgers Wrestling competed in the opening session of the 2022 Big Ten Wrestling Championships Saturday morning from the Pinnacle Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. One Scarlet Knight remains in the championship bracket as No. 3 Sebastian Rivera scored a fall and a major decision to advance to tonight’s semifinals at 141lbs.
Despite only having Rivera still in contention for a gold medal, every other Scarlet Knight remains alive in the consolation bracket after the opening session. As a team, Rutgers sits in 9th place with 18.5 points heading into tonight’s second session. Michigan leads the pack with 68.5 points, edging out Penn State who sit with 67.5.
A recap of each match for Rutgers is below as we wait for action to resume at 6:30PM with two rounds of consolation bracket action before the semifinals kick off at 8:30PM.
The first Scarlet Knight wrestler to compete Saturday morning was No. 27 Dylan Shawver who squared off with No. 10 Patrick McKee of Minnesota, a returning All-American. This bout was a rematch of the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament last year where a relatively unknown Shawver took out the Golden Gopher in a big upset.
This time around, Shawver proved it was no fluke, as he dominated McKee, racking up over three minutes of riding time, as he downed the Golden Gopher 7-4. Shawver picked up two takedowns and a reversal in the match, while only surrendering two escapes and an insignificant late reversal to advance to the second round.
In Shawver’s quarterfinal bout, he faced former Rutgers’ National Champion and No. 1 ranked Nick Suriano in a rematch of their regular season dual meet matchup that had Suriano scoring a technical fall win.
Shawver looked much stronger this time around, but it was still clear that Suriano is on another level as the Wolverine took the 18-6 major decision win with five takedowns and late cradle for four nearfall points to send the Scarlet Knight to the consolation bracket.
Joe Olivieri, the 15th ranked wrestler nationwide, took on Purdue’s No. 23 Matt Ramos in his opening round matchup and appeared to struggle with the length of Ramos from the opening whistle.
The Boilermaker hit a standing roll-through cradle to pick up four points in the first, and the Scarlet Knight couldn’t complete a late comeback attempt as he fell 7-5 to Ramos to head to consolation bracket.
Despite sporting a lengthy knee brace, Rutgers’ No. 3 Sebastian Rivera looked in prime form in his tournament opening bout, as he moved well and looked strong, pinning Maryland’s Danny Bertoni in the third period after converting four takedowns throughout the match.
In his quarterfinal match, Rivera continued to show look strong despite the late season knee injury as he took out Purdue’s No. 31 Parker Filius, who downed 3x All-American Stevan Micic in an opening round upset.
Rivera scored takedowns in each period, including three in the third, while the only offensive points from Filius came off a reversal as he squirmed out of a pin attempt from Rivera in the first period.
The win sets up a showdown with returning national runner-up Jaydin Eierman in Saturday night’s 141lbs semifinal, a matchup fans have been eager to see for over a year.
Rutgers’ No. 15 Mike VanBrill seems to always to put on a show at Big Ten’s, so it was surprising to see him fending off shot after shot from Michigan’s Kanen Storr, without generating much offense of his own, in the first period of his opening round match.
VanBrill even conceded a stall warning point to Storr early in the second, before the Scarlet Knight rolled through a shot attempt from Storr, locked up a tilt, and stacked the Wolverine to punch his ticket to the quarterfinals.
Storr, and the Michigan contingent on hand, were rightfully shocked, as Storr was the aggressor up until that point in the bout, but that’s what makes VanBrill such a dangerous wrestler.
VanBrill was up against No. 6 ranked Ridge Lovett of Nebraska for his quarterfinal bout and a first period takedown from the Cornhusker was the difference (and the only points scored) in the match.
VanBrill rode Lovett out for the entirety of the second period but couldn’t get the match tying takedown in the third as Lovett did everything but run for his life against the Scarlet Knight, who fell 2-0. VanBrill heads to the consolation bracket, looking to now make a big run on the backside.
Rutgers’ Rob Kanniard took on former Scarlet Knight commit Bryce Hepner of Ohio State in his first-round matchup, sporting a facemask to help protect his recently broken nose.
In a match where every takedown came as the result of an extended scramble, the Buckeye came out on top, 10-6. Kanniard struck first, but a takedown that came with four nearfall points in the first proved to be in the difference in the match.
165lber Andrew Clark had a rematch against Caleb Fish of Michigan State in his first-round match, looking for revenge after the Spartan took their dual meet matchup 5-1. Clark got the scoring started midway through the first, picking a up a takedown and riding Fish out for the remainder of the period.
Fish would take the lead after the second, picking up an escape and a takedown to put him up 3-2 heading into the third. Clark started the period on bottom, where he couldn’t earn an escape until late and then gave up a takedown and two nearfall points to Fish as the match concluded, falling 8-3.
In Clark’s first round consolation match, he squared off with Kasper McIntosh of Indiana and the two ended the first with no scoring, despite a deep shot attempt from McIntosh at the end of the period.
In the second period, Clark continued his recent tendency to be incredibly tough on top as he rode out the Spartan for the entire period. Clark chose bottom for the third, but McIntosh elected to release Clark to neutral before the opening whistle, so the Scarlet Knight led 1-0.
The move didn’t pay off for McIntosh as Clark avoided the late flurry from the Hoosier to hold on for a 2-0 decision win after the riding time point was added.
Rutgers’ Connor O’Neill had a tough task as he took on returning national runner-up Michael Kemerer of Iowa in his opening round bout, and the Hawkeye looked strong, scoring three takedowns before pinning O’Neill via a cradle late in the first.
Looking to shake off the opening round pin, O’Neill was up against Nick South of Indiana to open his consolation bracket. The two engaged in a defensive (and offensive) struggle that saw each only gaining a single escape point during the first three periods, so we headed to sudden victory tied at one.
South was in on a deep shot attempt, but O’Neill was able to squirm out of bounds for a restart. A few moments later, the Scarlet Knight was in on his own deep attempt, but he was able to convert and pickup the 3-1 win in overtime to advance in his bracket.
No. 9 John Poznanski opened his tournament with a matchup against No. 22 Isaiah Salazar of Minnesota and appeared to fade in the third period as he fell 8-3 to the Golden Gopher.
The first period was scoreless and the second saw only an escape point from Poznanski, who led 1-0 heading into the third. Salazar earned a quick escape, but Poznanski countered with a slick duck-under to get behind Salazer for the takedown.
Another quick escape from Salazar followed and the Golden Gopher then converted a takedown on the edge to take the 4-3 lead. Needing an escape to tie the match, Poznanski couldn’t find it, and gave up a four-point nearfall tilt on a mat return at the end of the match as he fell via upset to Salazar.
No. 12 Greg Bulsak opened his 197lbs bracket against No. 28 Andrew Davison of Northwestern and after conceding an early takedown to the Wildcat, it was all Bulsak for the rest of the match.
Three takedowns and a smothering ride, a familiar formula for the Scarlet Knight, was more than Davison could handle as Bulsak took the 9-2 decision win to move on to the quarterfinals.
In his quarterfinal match, Greg Bulsak took on second-seeded (but No. 1 ranked) Max Dean of Penn State, a rematch of a January dual where Dean prevailed 9-6 and it was more of the same this time around.
Bulsak could never get his offense going against the stingy Dean, who scored three takedowns and put on a smothering ride in the third, using Bulsak’s strategy against him, to earn the 6-2 decision.
It was a rare conservative effort from the Scarlet Knight, who wasn’t really close to scoring any offensive points throughout the match and will now head to the consolation bracket.
Rutgers’ Boone McDermott was up against No. 10 ranked Lucas Davison of Northwestern, who’s brother had fallen to Greg Bulsak of the Scarlet Knights at 197lbs just moments earlier.
The (bigger) brother made sure his fate would be different, as he dominated McDermott with three takedowns and two, four-point nearfall tilts to take out the Scarlet Knight by technical fall early in the 3rd.
McDermott opened his potential consolation bracket run by taking on Brad Wilton of Michigan State whom McDermott took out in sudden victory back in January. Here, the Scarlet Knight hit a big throw in the first to score four points and Wilton was hurt on the move and had to injury default, giving McDermott the win.
125: No. 27 Dylan Shawver (1-1)
Rd. 1 vs No. 10 Patrick McKee (Minnesota) - wins by dec., 7-4
Quarterfinal vs. No. 1 Nick Suriano (Michigan) – loses by major dec., 18-6
Consi. Rd. 2 vs No. 22 Justin Cardani (Illinois)
133: No. 15 Joe Olivieri (0-1)
Rd. 1 vs No. 23 Matt Ramos (Purdue) - loses by dec., 7-5
Consi. Rd. 1 vs BYE
Consi. Rd. 2 vs No. 9 Chris Cannon (Northwestern)
141: No. 3 Sebastian Rivera (2-0)
Rd. 1 vs Danny Bertoni (Maryland) - wins by FALL (5:32)
Quarterfinals vs No. 31 Parker Filius (Purdue) – wins by major dec., 15-5
Semifinals vs No. 2 Jaydin Eierman (Iowa)
149: No. 15 Mike VanBrill (1-1)
Rd. 1 vs Kanen Storr (Michigan) - wins by FALL (4:26)
Quarterfinal vs No. 6 Ridge Lovett (Nebraska) – loses by dec., 2-0
Consi. Rd. 2 vs Peyton Omania (Michigan State)
157: Rob Kanniard (0-1)
Rd. 1 vs Bryce Hepner (Ohio State) - loses by dec., 10-6
Consi. Rd. 1 vs BYE
Consi. Rd. 2 vs No. 9 Kaleb Young (Iowa)
165: Andrew Clark (1-1)
Rd. 1 vs Caleb Fish (Michigan State) – loses by dec., 8-3
Consi. Rd. 1 vs Kasper McIntosh (Indiana) – wins by dec., 2-0
Consi. Rd. 2 vs David Ferrante (Northwestern)
174: Connor O’Neill (1-1)
Rd. 1 vs No. 4 Mike Kemerer (Iowa) - loses by FALL
Consi. Rd. 1 vs Nick South (Indiana) – wins by dec., 3-1 SV1
Consi. Rd. 2 vs Bailee O’Reilly (Minnesota)
184: No. 9 John Poznanski (0-1)
Rd. 1 vs No. 22 Isaiah Salazar (Minnesota) – loses by dec. 8-3
Consi. Rd. 1 vs BYE
Consi. Rd. 2 vs No. 8 Kyle Cochran (Maryland)
197: No. 12 Greg Bulsak (1-1)
Rd. 1 vs No. 28 Andrew Davison (Northwestern) – wins by dec., 9-2
Quarterfinals vs No. 1 Max Dean (Penn State) – loses by dec., 6-2
Consi. Rd. 2 vs No. 20 Braxton Amos (Wisconsin)
285: Boone McDermott (1-1)
Rd. 1 vs No. 10 Lucas Davison (Northwestern) – loses by tech. fall, 15-0
Consi. Rd. 1 vs Brad Wilton (Michigan State) – wins via injury default
Consi. Rd. 2 vs No. 11 Christian Lance (Nebraska)
Session two takes place on Saturday night, and coverage of the wrestleback matches begins at 6:30 p.m. ET and will be streamed exclusively on B1G+. Television coverage resumes for Saturday night’s semifinals from 8:30 p.m. ET through 10:30 p.m. ET, while B1G+ will continue with individual mat coverage for the semifinals and wrestleback matches.