It all came down to bonus points Wednesday night in New Brunswick in a conference against two of the EIWA’s top programs in Rutgers and American. Both the Scarlet Knights and the Eagles claimed five bouts apiece, but in the end a major decision from Alex Caruso (174) and a pin from Dan Rinaldi (184) gave Rutgers the 19-15 victory.
The win is the 16th in a row for the Scarlet Knights as they improved to 20-1 and the loss drops American to 12-6 in dual meet action.
“This is Division I wrestling,” said Rutgers head coach Scott Goodale. “We can wrestle this one tomorrow, and it would be totally different. It’s somebody new stepping up every night.”
Caruso and Rinaldi stepped up big time for the Scarlet Knights on a night when two of their top wrestlers, heavyweight DJ Russo and 149-pounder Mario Mason, lost their respective bouts.
“The coaches talked to me before the match and told me that ’74 and ’84 could be deciding factors,” Caruso said. “I knew I had a job to do. Not just win but get bonus points too. They were expecting four [points] out of me and I got four.”
Rutgers jumped out to an early 6-0 behind decisions from Joe Langel (125) and Mike DeMarco (133). Langel’s 7-4 decision came as an upset over No. 20 Nick Arujau and DeMarco followed it up with a 7-5 decision over Kevin Tao.
American would take the lead shortly after by putting together three straight wins at 141, 149, and 157. The 157-pound matchup pitted two ranked grapplers against one another as Rutgers’ Daryl Cocozzo face off against American’s Steve Fittery, the No. 1 wrestler in the country.
With the home crowd behind him, Cocozzo earned a takedown in the bout’s early seconds, but it was all Fittery for the majority of the match. Cocozzo took control in the third, but it was too little too late as Fittery won, 6-3.
“I thought Daryl gave us a spark early,” Goodale said. “And what goes unnoticed is guys like Cocozzo … going out there and riding people out in the third period. It’s not a win, but those little things are what makes this team who we are.”
The win at 157 gave the Eagles a 9-6 lead, but it was Rutgers ability to bring in the bonus points down the stretch that proved the difference maker.
American followed up the match against Rutgers with another loss to fall to 12-7 on the year. The Eagles lost to Maryland in another close match, this time by a 19-17 score.
The Scarlet Knights return to action Thursday in a much-anticipated dual with Lehigh.
A subset of the EIWA, the Ivy Leaguers got at it this past week with no surprise as to what school made the biggest statement. Cornell went 2-0 against Penn and Princeton, winning by scores of 28-9 and 44-0, respectively.
The No. 1 team in the nation rolled the Quakers behind back-to-back falls from Kyle Dake (149) and DJ Meagher (157). Meagher also pinned Daniel Kolodzik of Princeton the following day as the Big Red closed out their romp over the Tigers with three straight pins courtesy of Mack Lewnes (184), Cam Simaz (197), and Stryker Lane (Hvy).
Princeton was unable to notch a mark in the win column at all this week as the Tigers also fell, 32-8, to Columbia.
Penn was able to right the ship, however, as the Quakers rebounded from the loss against Cornell to best Columbia, 19-13. Penn was able to get its damage done early in that match as the Quakers jumped out to a 13-0 lead behind four straight decisions, including an 11-1 major at 133 pounds from Rollie Peterkin.
It took until the Ivy League season, but Brown now has a win on the year. The Bears defeated league foe Harvard, 24-17, out in Boston. A technical fall from Cortlandt Choate (133) and a pin from Giuseppe Lanzi (165) paced Brown, who later fell to Boston U. by a 24-10 score.
It was a week to forget altogether for Harvard as the Crimson not only fell to Brown and Boston U., but were also thumped, 39-8, by Hofstra.
Around the EIWA
— On Senior Night in Lewisburg, Pa., Bucknell sent its graduating wrestlers out in style with a 25-12 victory over Army. It is the first conference win of the year for the Bison, who won every bout from 149 to heavyweight, including a 12-3 major decision from No. 6 Kevin LeValley (149). The only two wins of the night from Army came courtesy of the Thome brothers, Jordan (133) and Casey (141).
— Franklin and Marshall is now on a three-match winning streak after successfully defeating Gettysburg and NYU by scores of 34-9 and 39-6, respectively. Jake Bucha (133) led the Diplomats with a pin against Gettysburg and a major decision in the match against NYU.