The second half of head coach Scott Goodale’s interview with Christian Pyles of FloWrestling featured talk about the latter portion of the potential Scarlet Knight lineup, NIL issues, and more.
If you missed my part 1 summary, you can find it here. Let’s take a look at the upperweights, starting at 165lbs.
165lbs: Last year’s starter at 174lbs, Connor O’Neill, who filled in for injured All-American Jackson Turley, has decided his best route to a roster spot will be to drop to 165lbs. This weight has been recently vacated by Andrew Clark who also decided to drop a weight class as he makes his way down to 157lbs for the upcoming season.
O’Neill had a rough Big Ten portion of his regular season schedule, but earned a trip to the NCAA tournament where he picked up three team points for the Scarlet Knights by gaining a fall in his opening round match.
174lbs: As mentioned above, 2020 All-American Jackson Turley sat out the majority of the season with a shoulder injury but should be full-steam ahead for the 2022-23 season.
One of the more exciting wrestlers to compete on the banks for Rutgers Wrestling, fans are eagerly anticipating his return to the mat.
Turley made an improbable run from the 26th seed at the 2021 NCAA tournament to finish 8th in the country, a feat even more impressive considering he lost his opening round match, and he’ll look to build upon that success this upcoming season.
184lbs: John Poznanski made a big splash when he joined the Scarlet Knights in 2020, finishing 4th in the country at the NCAA tournament to earn All-American honors.
Last season, after a dominant first semester, Poznanski, who was dealing with undisclosed injury (via his interview with Dave Sturchio of Chop Sports Media), struggled at times in Big Ten competition, but was still able to bring home a top 16 finish at the year-end tournament.
Joining him this year at 184lbs is three-time NJ state champion Brian Soldano of High Point. Soldano comes to the banks as one of the highest ranked recruits in Goodale’s tenure and with him come some interesting lineup decisions to be made.
In his FloWrestling interview, Goodale indicated that it is likely one of the two will redshirt this season, but with three (Poznanski) and four (Soldano) years of eligibility remaining between them, this could be a lineup battle for years to come.
197lbs: A familiar face is making his way back into the lineup as former NCAA qualifier Billy Janzer, who cut to 184lbs last year before missing the season due to back surgery, is back up at 197lbs to represent the Scarlet Knights for the 2022-23 season.
Janzer is entering his fifth year at Rutgers and still has two years of eligibility remaining, so Rutgers fan are hoping he brings the same fire he stormed onto the scene with in his redshirt freshman campaign.
That season, Janzer went 21-10 and qualified for the NCAA tournament before the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the year-end festivities.
285lbs: Fan-favorite Boone McDermott looks like he’ll be the guy again at heavyweight according to Goodale.
The Iowa native had some fun moments at Jersey Mike’s Arena last year that brought the roof down, tossing much bigger opponents to their back’s in dramatic fashion several times.
McDermott is slightly undersized at ~235lbs with regards to his Big Ten competition and that difference was evident when he squared off against the elite of the conference.
It is also being reported that two-time NCAA champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Gable Steveson will return to Minnesota for his final year of eligibility despite announcing his “retirement” last season, so the path doesn’t get any easier for Boone.
There is also the lingering factor of Kyonte Hamilton, a highly ranked heavyweight recruit who currently is fighting for a starting spot on the Rutgers football team. Will he represent the Scarlet Knight wrestling squad during the second semester this year?
Hamilton weighed in for a couple matches last season, but only appeared in one open tournament.
The conversation then turned to NIL and whether Rutgers Wrestling has been able to use the new policy to their advantage at this point.
“Yea, I think we’re in some conversations because of it,” Goodale said, “A lot of the in-state guys realize the opportunities they would have wrestling for this program.”
He also spoke as to how the situation with NIL has evolved into a “bidding war” for the nation’s best wrestlers.
“That scares me, I think that scares our staff, and I think it scares a lot of coaches around the country,” said Coach Goodale.
“The biggest question in Division I college wrestling right now is when you’re fundraising, are you trying to feed your operational budget, your NIL budget, or is it your RTC (Regional Training Center) budget?”
Goodale also spoke on the recent coaching vacancy on the Scarlet Knight staff after the departure of Anthony Ashnault and where they were at in the search for his replacement.
“I want somebody who wakes up everyday and, other than their family, the most important thing in their life is ‘How do I make Rutgers Wrestling better?’” Goodale explained.
“Ideally if you look at our staff, it would be great to have a big guy, but it’s got to be the right guy.”
At the end of the conversation, Goodale was asked about what associate head coach Donny Pritzlaff means to the program. After speaking incredibly highly of his coach for several minutes, he summed up his feelings.
“Donny is a huge part of my life and Rutgers would not be where it is at without him,” Goodale said.