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Rutgers wrestling bested in weekend meets against Michigan, Michigan State

Freshman 149-pounder Andrew Clark dropped his match against his Michigan opponent. – Photo by

The Rutgers wrestling team dropped both of its road meets this weekend, falling 20-17 to Michigan State last Friday night before losing 32-8 to Michigan yesterday afternoon. The Scarlet Knights (12-4, 2-4) saw 2 of their 3 undefeated wrestlers lose for the first time this season, with graduate student 141-pounder Sebastian Rivera keeping his unbeaten streak alive with two bonus victories.

In Friday’s meet, Rutgers had an even match split with the Spartans (8-3, 3-2), but bonus point upsets over previously undefeated freshman 184-pounder John Poznanski and eighth-ranked senior 197-pounder Greg Bulsak gave Michigan State the edge.

The meet started off strong for the Knights, who took 3 of the first 4 matches, highlighted by an 18-2 tech fall by Rivera over Jordan Hamdan. The tech fall kept Rivera undefeated and also maintained his 100 percent bonus rate on the season. 

Freshman 125-pounder Dylan Shawver earned a 4-3 decision over Tristan Lujan thanks to a pair of takedowns at the end of the first and the middle of the second period. The Spartans evened up the score at 3 in the next match, as freshman 133-pounder Joseph Olivieri suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to 11th-ranked Rayvon Foley

A reversal and riding time point were all that fifth-year senior 157-pounder Michael VanBrill needed to beat Peyton Omania 3-1 in a rematch from last spring’s Big Ten Tournament, increasing Rutgers’ lead to 11-3, its largest of the meet.

Michigan State responded with back-to-back wins, with freshman 141-pounder Al DeSantis dropping a 9-0 major decision to Chase Saldate and freshman 149-pounder Andrew Clark losing a 4-0 decision to Caleb Fish, narrowing the Knights’ team lead to just 11-10.

Late heroics followed for Rutgers, as freshman 174-pounder Connor O’Neill scored a late takedown in the third period to beat Nathan Jimenez 3-1 to get the team lead up to 14-10.

The Spartans would flip the entire contest on its head in the next two matches. First, Poznanski was pinned by Layne Malczewski just 2:21 into the first period. Cameron Caffey followed up on that by dealing Bulsak his first defeat of the season with a 12-4 major decision. The back-to-back bonus wins gave Michigan State a 20-14 lead, sealing the Knights' fate.

Freshman 285-pounder Boone McDermott ended the meet on a high note for Rutgers with a 3-1 sudden victory win over Brad Wilton to earn the Knights their fifth win of the dual.

The biggest storyline heading into the meet against the Wolverines (6-1, 2-1) was the first matchup against former national champion Nick Suriano, who earned a 16-1 major decision against Shawver.

With Michigan out to a 5-0 team lead, Olivieri dropped a 3-1 decision to eighth-ranked Dylan Ragusin, who opened the scoring with a takedown before trading escape points in the final two periods.

Rutgers would answer back in the third match, with third-ranked Rivera looking to remain undefeated against Chris Kim. Rivera blew open a 9-1 lead in the first period, cruising to a 19-4 tech fall with 25 seconds to go in the second period.

VanBrill followed Rivera’s bonus win on Pat Nolan, holding on by riding for the entire third period to earn the decision 4-1 and knot up the team score 8-8.

The Wolverines ended the first half of the meet with the team lead, as 15th-ranked Will Lewan beat DeSantis in a 9-3 decision.

In the first match after the intermission, Clark dropped a 3-1 decision to 10th-ranked Cameron Amine. After a scoreless first period, Amine opened the scoring with an escape point before getting a buzzer-beating takedown at the end of the second. Clark earned an escape point at the start of the third but couldn’t find a way to equalize.

The Knights dropped the next match, as O’Neill fell behind 16-3 before getting pinned with 24 seconds left in the second period.

With Poznanski having to forfeit due to an injury, the highest-ranked matchup of the afternoon came at 197 pounds, with Bulsak squaring off against eighth-ranked Patrick Brucki

After remaining scoreless in the first period, Bulsak took the lead with an escape to start the second, but Brucki went ahead 2-1 with just more than 90 seconds to go in regulation. Bulsak was able to even it at 2 with an escape to force overtime. Brucki earned the win on a takedown with 1:37 left in the period.

McDermott dropped a 10-3 decision to second-ranked Mason Parris in the final match of the dual meet.

Rutgers will get back into its dual meet schedule on Thursday for an in-state matchup against Rider. The meet takes place at Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston campus, beginning at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted on 88.7 WRSU-FM.

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

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