No. 22 Rutgers Wrestling (10-7, 2-6) closed out their regular season schedule this past weekend when they hosted No. 1 Penn State and then visited No. 10 Nebraska.
The Scarlet Knights unfortunately went 0-2 in the duals, but there were still some highlights and takeaways as we head into the Big Ten Tournament in a couple weeks.
With regards to individual rankings, Rutgers ends the regular season with six wrestlers ranked by Intermat including: No. 16 Dean Peterson (125), No. 15 Joe Heilmann (133), No. 18 Joe Olivieri (141), No. 33 Andrew Clark (157), No. 14 Brian Soldano (184), and No. 20 Boone McDermott (HWT).
We’ll have a regular season wrap up article sometime between now and the Big Ten Tournament, but for now, let’s get back to the PSU and Nebraska duals.
Dean Peterson is the future of this team.
No. 16 Dean Peterson bounced back from a pair of losses (although most would argue he got hosed in the match against Northwestern’s DeAugustino) to absolutely crush PSU’s Gary Steen.
Now to be clear, Peterson is much better than Steen and was heavily favored, but the young man put on a clinic, picking up eight takedowns en route to a 21-6 technical fall win.
Then on Sunday, Peterson was up against Nebraska’s No. 4 Liam Cronin and took him to the absolute brink before falling to a buzzer beating takedown by the Cornhusker. Peterson has shown he has the ability to compete with the best, just in time for a potential postseason run.
Penn State is simply on another level.
As could be surmised from the final score (33-8), the Nittany Lions poured it on the Scarlet Knights Friday night, as Coach Cael Sanderson and co. have themselves a scary squad on their hands.
After Rutgers picked up the first two matches, PSU rolled off eight straight victories, picking up bonus points in seven of them. Even in matches where the Rutgers guys were keeping it close, their Penn State counterparts would hit a big move near the end of the match to blow the score open and secure their bonus points.
Particularly worrisome is the trio of freshman from 149 to 165lbs, all of whom are ranked in the top 15 and will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
No. 15 Joe Heilmann continues his workmanlike season.
Graduate student Joe Heilmann has been an incredible asset since arriving on the banks this offseason and he continued the trend this past weekend with a pair of wins.
Against Penn State, he didn’t see the two-time National Champion Roman Bravo-Young who took the match off, and adjusted well, picking up a win over the backup when I’m sure he was hyped up to face RBY.
Then on Sunday against Nebraska, Heilmann took on a wrestler who may be the tallest 133lber in the country in Boo Dryden, but again made quick adjustments and prevailed in a match that he initially trailed in.
Boone McDermott, the knee-pick king.
After sitting out with an illness against Penn State, No. 20 Boone McDermott made his way back into the lineup against Nebraska where he dispatched Cale Davidson via major decision.
McDermott was able to pick up multiple takedowns via an aggressive knee-pick that Davidson had no answer for throughout the match.
I was also excited to see that McDermott didn’t participate in Senior Night on Friday, perhaps indicating he plans to stick around next season for his last year of eligibility.
Jackson Turley would’ve beat anyone not named Mikey Labriola on Sunday.
Jackson Turley specifically was run through the gamut this weekend as he faced both No. 1 Carter Starocci of PSU and No. 2 Mikey Labriola of Nebraska.
While the matchup with Starocci was one sided for the most part, Turley looked incredibly strong against Labriola, coming close to match tying takedowns on several occasions.
Labriola, for his part, displayed some of the best leg defense I’ve ever seen to prevent Turley from converting his takedown attempts and was incredibly stingy throughout the match.
Bonus Takeaway - There’s nothing like a sold-out Jersey Mike’s Arena
Rutgers Wrestling announced a sellout crowd Friday night against Penn State and the atmosphere was fantastic.
Going in, I was worried that there would be a huge influx of Penn State fans taking over Jersey Mike’s, but that wasn’t the case as the sea of scarlet vastly outnumbered any blue I saw.
When Dean Peterson almost stacked Gary Steen during the opening match, you could feel the arena shaking as the crowd urged him on. Already excited for next season and the (hopefully) full slate of home matches these fans deserve.
So that’s it. Now we wait for the Big Ten Tournament and all the opportunities that come with it. Resumes are complete and now it’s time to turn some heads. We’ll have a regular season wrap-up and a couple Big Ten preview articles in the coming weeks.