The Rutgers wrestling team completed a two-match sweep at the Garden State Grapple in Newark, defeating Hofstra 35-6 and No. 14 UNC 28-9. The latter victory over the Tar Heels (3-4, 0-0) marked the first ranked win of the season for the Scarlet Knights (8-0, 0-0).
It was another dominant showing for Rutgers, who came away with victories in 15 of their 20 matches. Five Knights finished undefeated in both matches: freshman 125-pounder Dylan Shawver, sophomore 133-pounder Sammy Alvarez, graduate student 141-pounder Sebastian Rivera, senior 149-pounder Michael VanBrill, freshman 184-pounder John Poznanski and graduate student 197-pounder Greg Bulsak.
The opening meet against the Pride (0-2, 0-0) was quickly controlled by Rutgers, who opened up a 20-0 lead through four matches. Alvarez and Rivera blew the lead open with back-to-back pins — with Alvarez getting his over Dylan Acevedo-Switzer in just 52 seconds. VanBrill followed up on that with a tech fall over Michael Leandrou, with freshman 141-pounder Al DeSantis making it 23-0 with an 8-2 decision over Joe McGinty.
The back half of the opening meet saw freshman 174-pounder Connor O’Neill extend the lead to 29-3 with a 58-second pin on Ericson Velasquez. Poznanski and Bulsak each got decisions in their matches. The only two Knights to drop matches to Hofstra were freshman 149-pounder Andrew Clark and freshman 285-pounder Boone McDermott, who lost to No. 20/23 Zachary Knighton-Ward in Rutgers’ first ranked loss of the afternoon.
The Knights got right back to the mat for their first ranked matchup of the season against UNC. The Tar Heels were no match for Rutgers at the lower weights, as the Knights opened up a convincing 16-0 lead with four straight wins — highlighted by VanBrill’s 12-1 major decision over Mason Phillips.
That was followed by three losses for Rutgers, as No. 7/3 Austin O’Connor got UNC on the board with a 12-6 major decision over freshman 157-pounder Robert Kanniard. Clark dropped his second straight match, conceding a 7-3 decision to Joey Mazzara, and No. 15 Clay Lautt defeated O’Neill at 174 pounds.
The Tar Heels' run made it a competitive team meet, with 9 unanswered team points cutting the lead to 16-9 with three matches remaining.
The Knights answered back with an emphatic pin from Poznanski, who earned the fall over Mark Chaid in 3:10 to put Rutgers up 22-9. Bulsak earned a ranked victory, getting the 8-2 decision over No. 26 Max Shaw. McDermott finished off the Knights' win with a 9-3 decision over Brandon Whitman.
Rutgers now enters the dual meet portion of the schedule, as the team hits the road to take on American in Washington, D.C.
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