The Rutgers wrestling team has had a dream start to the 2021-2022 season. Just a month after opening the year with their first meet in front of fans since the 2020 Big Ten championships, the Scarlet Knights (9-0, 0-0) have impressed with a dominant non-conference showing — with the biggest win coming against No. 16 North Carolina at the Garden State Grapple in Newark.
This has translated into the rankings, with Rutgers having ranked wrestlers in eight different weight classes with six of them being ranked by both InterMat Wrestling and FloWrestling.
Here’s a closer look at who has stood out in the early part of the season for the Knights.
Freshman 184-pounder John Poznanski
In his debut campaign in 2020 on the Banks, Poznanski made a name for himself right out of the gate — finishing as a freshman All-American with a fourth-place finish at the NCAAs last March. That finish put Poznanski in the record books, as he became the highest freshman finisher in Rutgers program history.
He’s followed up on that early success this fall, sitting at No. 5 in the country with a perfect 8-0 record through the first month.
Senior 141-pounder Sebastian Rivera
When Rivera announced he was transferring to Rutgers from Northwestern for his final year of eligibility (extended by the free pandemic year established by the NCAA), fans expected him to become a key part of the lineup.
He’s lived up to the hype so far. Rivera is a perfect 6-0 on the year, earning one major decision and two tech falls during that stretch, which was good enough to be ranked nationally as high as third at this point of the season.
Graduate student 157-pounder Michael VanBrill
For VanBrill, it’s been a dream start to the 2021-2022 campaign. After going just 5-6 (1-3 in Big Ten dual-action) last year, the start of this season has brought significant improvement and an undefeated 7-0 record.
His most recent victory came last Friday, as VanBrill earned a 4:35 pin on American’s Patrick Ryan to get his first tech fall of the season. The start has been good enough for VanBrill to earn national attention, as he’s currently ranked 25th in the nation by Intermat Wrestling.
Freshman 125-pounder Dylan Shawver
Shawver is another young wrestler who has shown substantial improvement this season, currently sitting with a 7-0 record on the year. It’s a substantial leap from his true freshman year in 2020-2021, where he went 4-3 with an upset over then-No. 13 Patrick McKee. Like VanBrill, Shawver’s hot start has him in the national rankings, as he’s currently 23rd in the national Intermat Wrestling rankings.
Graduate student 197-pounder Greg Bulsak
When he transferred from Clarion this offseason for his final year of eligibility, Bulsak arrived on the Banks with four NCAA bids and a 77-25 career record. Since he first suited up for the Knights, Bulsak has had a strong start, going 6-0 with four bonus point victories in the opening month.
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