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'I want that national title before I'm done': Dylan Shawver on pace to become Rutgers wrestling legend

Junior 133-pounder Dylan Shawver, a Big Ten champion and All-American, wants to achieve even more during his time on the Banks.  – Photo by Evan Leong

"Been manifesting it, been dreaming it and I let it happen. I let it all fly out there," said junior 133-pounder Dylan Shawver approximately 6 minutes after he won a Big Ten title on March 10. Shawver is the third Big Ten champion in program history for the Rutgers wrestling team and the first since Nick Suriano and Anthony Ashnault won in 2019.

Rewind back to Shawver's time at his alma mater in Lorain, Ohio. Shawver went 46-3, competing for Elyria High School and capturing sectional and regional titles, making him an exciting prospect. Despite his impressive high school resume, Shawver had big shoes to fill in the 125-pound weight class as Nicolas Aguilar, a 2020 NCAA qualifier and All-American, was the team's starter at the time.

Shawver eventually won the starting spot and did not waste any time settling in on the Banks. In his first season, he recorded four wins and went 2-3 at the Big Ten Championships. One of his wins was over then-No. 13 Patrick McKee, an opponent the Scarlet Knights have become very familiar with in recent years.

Shawver built on his freshman campaign and went 15-5 in dual matches the following season. He finished seventh at the Big Ten Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska, booking him a ticket to his first-ever NCAA Championship. Although Shawver did not place at the tournament, he went 2-2 and gained valuable experience in just his second season at Rutgers.

Shawver started the 2022-2023 season strong, boasting a 12-5 record. His season was cut short, though, after he suffered a season-ending injury. Shawver used his recovery time to come back stronger and more determined to succeed.

Ahead of the 2023-2024 season, Shawver moved to the 133-pound weight class, making room for him and junior 125-pounder Dean Peterson in the starting lineup. Right from the start of the season, it was evident that Shawver looked much more dominant and impressive on the mat, working wins over high-ranked opponents such as Zeth Romney and Julian Chlebove.

Shawver finished as a runner-up at the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships in December 2023 after losing to Dylan Ragusin in the championship bout, but that would not be the last time those two met this season.

Shawver continued his positive momentum heading into Big Ten action. Shawver defeated Nic Bouzakis, Aaron Nagao and Braxton Brown in dual matches but fell to Ragusin for the second time this season when the Knights faced off against Michigan.

Shawver was named the No. 2 seed heading into the Big Ten Championships. His first test would be against Brown in the quarterfinals. Shawver grinded out the 9-6 win in sudden victory to move on to a match against Brody Teske. Teske had just defeated No. 3 seed Bouzakis, but Shawver secured the 12-6 decision and was one win away from a Big Ten title.

And who was the opponent waiting for Shawver in the championship match? Ragusin once again. Shawver did not let Ragusin complete the series sweep, as he dominated the latter 23-8 and secured the technical fall to win the Big Ten title he had been dreaming of.

Shawver continued his momentum in the NCAA Championships. He reached the quarterfinals and faced Ragusin for the fourth time this season. Ragusin won 9-3, sending Shawver down to the wrestlebacks. Shawver defeated Teske in the Blood Round to become an All-American for the first time in his collegiate career. He concluded the tournament with a win against No. 3 seed Kai Orine to finish seventh.

"The difference between Dylan Shawver this year and in the past is that he just finally believed, he believed that he should be there," said assistant coach Joe Pollard. "His training in the room and the way that he did those things, he took it to another level, he was just more intense and more focused."

Shawver's mindset played a big role in his success this season, especially in the tougher matches down the stretch.

"I always believe in myself, just keep pushing forward and like I said, never give up and just believe in myself," he said.

With more than two seasons remaining at Rutgers, Shawver still has some goals left.

"I want that national title before I'm done, and I promise I'm gonna get it," Shawver said.

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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