No. 23 Rutgers wrestling falters in season's last matches against No. 1 Penn State, No. 10 Nebraska
Following its win against Maryland on February 4, the Rutgers wrestling team suffered two losses against No. 10 Nebraska and No. 1 Penn State to end its regular dualing season. The Scarlet Knights (10-7, 2-6) will finish with a winning record overall but a disappointing regular season record in conference play.
In its match against the Nittany Lions at home (15-0, 8-0) Rutgers lost 33-8, and many issues that had plagued the Knights all season were on display. These issues include inconsistency in the heavier weights and poor performances in the middleweights.
After Rutgers jumped out to an 8-0 lead after the 125- and 133-pound matches, all of the other following weight classes failed to secure a win for the Knights. During these losses, Rutgers struggled to get any points at all. One of the closest losses in this stretch was against the 157-pounders, which was ultimately decided by six points.
It did not get much better on Sunday as the Knights lost to the Cornhuskers (11-3, 7-1) by a score of 27-10 in Lincoln. The heavier weights did better in this matchup as No. 21 junior 285-pounder Boone McDermott picked up a 12-3 major decision.
The middleweights also showed some wins with sophomore 149-pounder Tony White’s 5-3 decision over his opponent. Though, Rutgers would not win another match after White’s and ended the dual with a forfeit at 184 pounds.
No. 15 graduate student 133-pounder Joe Heilmann was the only wrestler for the Knights to pick up wins in both duals he fought this weekend.
On Friday against Penn State, Rutgers continued to struggle without McDermott and have lost multiple matches in his absence. The Knights' heavyweights will need to make up for his loss if they hope to do well in the Big Ten Tournament.
The scarlet faithful came out en masse to support the wrestling team in its final home match against the Nittany Lions. The sellout crowd was the second-largest wrestling crowd in school history. This level of support has been shown all season as the average for attendance this season was the second highest in school history, coming in at 5,018 people per home match.
"It was a great crowd tonight," said head coach Scott Goodale after the loss against Penn State. "Our guys love wrestling here. It was awesome to see that. They were into it at the beginning, but we have to keep them into it, and we weren't able to do that. I appreciate the support. I appreciate the administration, the marketing team — they did a lot of cool things for this match."
With the loss against Nebraska, Rutgers' dualing season comes to a close. The next event for the wrestling team will be the Big Ten Tournament which will be hosted by Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The tournament will be held over two days, March 4 and March 5.
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