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Big Ten Championships: No. 14 Rutgers wrestling secures 6 NCAA qualifiers, Dylan Shawver advances to Big Ten title match

Junior 133-pounder Dylan Shawver of the Rutgers wrestling team defeated Brody Teske by a 12-6 decision and will compete for a Big Ten title on Sunday at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships.  – Photo by Evan Leong

The Rutgers wrestling team competed in Sessions I and II of the Big Ten Championships at the XFINITY Center in College Park, Maryland, on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights (12-5, 4-4) had six wrestlers qualify for the NCAA Championships and one advance to the Big Ten title matches. 

Session I

No. 9 seed junior 125-pounder Dean Peterson started the day with an impressive performance, earning a 3-2 win over No. 8 seed Brendan McCrone. Peterson got a two-point reversal and a riding time point to advance to the quarterfinals. Peterson avenged his 7-1 defeat to McCrone from earlier this season.

No. 7 seed graduate student 141-pounder Mitch Moore did not waste any time against No. 10 seed Vance VomBaur, pinning him in just 30 seconds for the win. 

No. 10 seed junior 149-pounder Michael Cetta made his first appearance at the Big Ten Championships, taking on No. 7 seed Joseph Zargo. Cetta wrestled tough but suffered a 15-6 major decision defeat. 

After Cetta fell, No. 14 Rutgers’ struggles continued, as No. 11 seed junior 157-pounder Al DeSantis and No. 13 seed junior 165-pounder Anthony White both lost in the first round.

No. 8 seed sophomore 184-pounder Brian Soldano was taken down 9-7 by No. 9 seed Troy Fisher, sending him into the consolation bracket.

The Knights then found their footing again, as No. 6 seed senior 174-pounder Jackson Turley, No. 7 seed junior 197-pounder John Poznanski and No. 4 seed graduate student 285-pounder Yaraslau Slavikouski all emerged victorious to advance to the quarterfinals. 

In the quarterfinals, Peterson took on No. 1 seed Matt Ramos, an opponent he had never defeated. Peterson earned a 7-1 decision to pull off the massive upset and secure his spot in the semifinals. No. 2 seed junior 133-pounder Dylan Shawver, who had a first-round bye, took his bout with No. 7 seed Braxton Brown to sudden victory and secured the 9-6 win.

Following his win, Moore then took on No. 2 seed Jesse Mendez for the second time this season. Moore continued his struggles against Mendez, as he was pinned in the second period.

Rutgers suffered another defeat, as Turley was defeated 12-2 by a major decision to No. 3 seed Patrick Kennedy. Turley was unable to build off his impressive end to the campaign.  

After suffering a season-ending injury, Poznanski did not wrestle at the Big Ten Championships last season. Poznanski finished third in 2021 but could not replicate the strong finish after falling to No. 2 seed Jaxon Smith in sudden victory.

Slavikouski booked his ticket for a spot in the semifinals with a 6-1 decision win over No. 5 seed Seth Nevills. Slavikouski lost to Nevills 5-2 last month but was able to level the series. 

In the wrestlebacks, DeSantis secured a 14-4 major decision win over No. 14 seed Logan Swaw. White suffered his second defeat of the tournament to No. 12 seed Maxx Mayfield

Session II

Moore started Session II for the Knights with a consolation bout against No. 9 seed Dan Fongaro. Moore kept his third-place hopes alive with a 10-4 decision win over Fongaro and the victory earned his qualification to the NCAA Championships.  

After losing to No. 8 seed Graham Rooks in an 8-2 decision earlier this season, Cetta faced Rooks once again in the consolation round. It was a high-scoring affair, but Rooks came out on top with a 16-10 decision. 

The difficulties continued for Rutgers, as DeSantis lost via a technical fall to No. 5 seed Peyton Robb. Cetta and DeSantis still have a chance to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. 

Moore then went up against No. 6 seed Danny Pucino, but the bout only lasted 32 seconds as Moore pinned his second opponent of the day to advance to the consolation semifinals.  

Turley and Soldano dominated in their bouts, advancing to the consolation semifinals, but Poznanski was unable to earn his spot after falling 4-2 to No. 6 seed Luke Geog

Turley and Soldano booked their tickets to the NCAA Championships with wins. Poznanski needs to win tomorrow to earn an NCAA qualification.

White took on Mayfield for the second time of the day, this time in the ninth-place match. White again could not claim the victory and suffered a 4-2 decision. 

Peterson had a familiar opponent in No. 4 seed Patrick McKee in the semifinal match. Peterson landed a third-period takedown, but McKee would level the contest and send the bout to sudden victory, where he emerged victorious. 

Shawver would not let No. 14 seed Brody Teske secure an upset win. It was a close bout from start to finish, but two third-period takedowns and three near-fall points from Shawver earned him the 12-6 victory to advance to the championship match. Shawver is the first finalist since Anthony Ashnault and Nick Suriano were Big Ten champions in 2019. 

“(Teske) had me in a pretty good spot, but I wasn’t going to give up,” Shawver said. “I worked too hard to get this far and that’s what was going through my mind at the time. You can see that I ended up on top, that was just pure emotion and happiness right there.”

It was then Slavikouski’s turn to compete for a spot in the championship match. Slavikouski had to take on No. 1 seed, No. 1 ranked and undefeated Greg Kerkvliet, his toughest opponent of the season. Slavikouski suffered a 9-0 major decision defeat to end the first day of the Big Ten Championships.

“There were a lot of key performances, I thought up and down we wrestled really really well, there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said head coach Scott Goodale. “I love the way we competed, I love the way we were stingy. I love the way we scored back points and when we got an opportunity to pin people and put them away, we did ... Winning those matches to go to the national tournament, huge for our guys ... so just a great team effort up and down the lineup.”

Rutgers will look to earn more qualifications for the NCAA Championships and secure a Big Ten title on Sunday.

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

To view more of Matthew Mangam's work, follow @matthewmangam on X.

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