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No. 23 Rutgers defeated by No. 25 Michigan at Big Ten Super Saturday

 – Photo by Curstine Guevarra

Traveling to New York City for its 13th meet of the season, the Rutgers wrestling team won five bouts against Michigan. A major decision, a technical fall and a pin propelled the No. 25 Wolverines (6-3, 5-1) to a 21-16 win over the No. 23 Scarlet Knights (8-5, 3-4), though, at Madison Square Garden.

Before the men's basketball teams came out for the tail end of the Big Ten Super Saturday doubleheader, No. 18 redshirt freshman 125-pounder Nicolas Aguilar dropped a 2-1 decision to Michigan's Jack Medley. Aguilar's overall record fell to 18-7, with the defeat being his third loss against a Big Ten opponent this season.

No. 9 true freshman 133-pounder Sammy Alvarez earned the first victory for Rutgers, which tied the game at three. He came away with a 4-3 win over Austin Assad of the Wolverines, a fifth-year senior. Alvarez now stands with a 20-6 overall record in his first season on the Banks. 

Head coach Scott Goodale opted to go with junior 141-pounder Zach Firestone over true freshman 141-pounder JoJo Aragona in the third spot. Aragona had dropped his most recent bout to Purdue's Parker Filius the previous weekend, 4-2.

Firestone's appearance in Goodale's starting 10 marks the third dual meet that the Swedesboro, New Jersey, native had competed in. He came in with a win against Centenary's Jacy Jones and a loss against California State Bakersfield's Angelo Martinoni.

Going up against Michigan's Cole Mattin, a true freshman, Firestone only scored 3 points as his opponent secured a major decision victory. Mattin's 11-3 win pushed the Wolverines' lead to 7-3 before redshirt freshman 149-pounder Gerard Angelo wrestled No. 9 Kanen Storr.

Storr, an NCAA qualifier at 141 pounds last season, captured a technical fall against Angelo. The loss was Angelo's 10th of the season, bringing his record to 12-10. 

Before both teams headed into the locker room for intermission, junior 157-pounder Michael VanBrill wrestled a close bout against No. 9 Will Lewan. VanBrill was credited with the bout's first takedown, but Lewan captured a takedown in the final seconds en route to a 5-3 victory. 

Starting up with the heavier weight class in the second half of the meet, junior 165-pounder Brett Donner worked a 7-3 win over Tyler Meisinger, who was injured last season and did not compete against Michigan.

For Donner, it was his 15th victory of the season. He picked up a 12-3 major decision on Jan. 24 against Indiana's Davey Tunon.

With regular starter junior 174-pounder Joseph Grello out with an injury he sustained at Penn State on Jan. 19, Goodale had put in 174-pounders fifth-year senior Willie Scott and junior Anthony Olivieri.

Scott was tapped in after he previously lost a major decision on Jan. 24. This time, at the Garden, Scott was the one in the driver's seat, downing the Wolverines' Max Maylor by a 13-2 score.

"Guys like Willie Scott filling in for Joe Grello who will be back soon. It's good to see Brett Donner get two in a row, he wrestled well," Goodale said. "I'm proud of those guys."

No. 20 redshirt freshman 184-pounder Billy Janzer took down No. 17 Jelani Embree 3-1. The bout was the only one featuring two ranked opponents. 

Janzer's win brought the Knights within two at a 15-13 score. No. 19 graduate student 197-pounder Jordan Pagano then muscled out a 6-5 win over Jackson Striggow, a fifth-year senior, to give Rutgers a 16-15 lead ahead of the heavyweight class.

Last weekend, Goodale bumped junior 197-pounder Matthew Correnti up to heavyweight, who added on approximately 10 pounds to his frame. Correnti split last weekend but wound up not starting at the Garden.

In his place was sophomore heavyweight Alex Esposito. In his last bout at University Park, Pennsylvania, he was pinned 2:24 into the match. 

With the Knights holding onto a narrow 16-15 lead, Esposito went up against No. 2 Mason Parris, a sophomore who qualified at the NCAA Championships last season. Parris came in with an unblemished 21-0 record and earned his 22nd at the Garden, pinning Esposito less than a minute and a half into the bout.

Rutgers will return back to the comforts of the Rutgers Athletic Center on Friday when Illinois rolls into Piscataway. The Knights will also head down to Lawrenceville, New Jersey, to wrestle a non-conference meet against Rider on Sunday. 

The Broncs (9-2, 5-1) will first face Lock Haven on Friday before hosting Rutgers. Rider was receiving votes in last week's NWCA Poll.

For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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