EVANSTON, IL - Some of the best wrestlers in the nation will be squaring off soon, as the 53rd annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships tournament is set to kick off tomorrow. Over 400 wrestlers coming from 42 teams will be competing in the national tournament. The tournament serves as a proving ground for many NCAA wrestlers and teams and Rutgers will certainly be looking to prove a lot during it.
The No.8 Rutgers Wrestling squad will be sending out 15 wrestlers to Northwestern University to represent them in the tournament. The Scarlet Knights are coming off one of their best accomplishments since they joined the Big Ten, in their thrilling 17-16 criteria win over formerly No. 4 Nebraska, and they’ll be looking to ride that momentum in the tournament.
Rutgers will be competing as a team for the first time since 2011. In that year, the Scarlet Knights got its best individual finish in its Midlands tournament history when Mario Mason was the runner-up at 149 pounds.
South Plainfield High School alumnus Anthony Ashnault and Scott DelVecchio, will be taking the mats during the tournament. Ashnault, a141-pounder, was recently ranked at No. 2 by Intermat, the highest ranking of his career. The 11-0 sophomore All-American was a four time undefeated state champ as a Tiger. DelVecchio, who is being redshirted this year, will be wrestling at 133 pounds unattached to the team.
Both Ashnault and DelVecchio were recognized by the Midlands Championships committee as top contestants. Seven other Scarlet Knights, No. 18 125-pounder Sean McCabe, No. 20 133-pounder Anthony Giraldo, 149-pounder Ken Theobold (also unattached), No. 17 157-pounder Richie Lewis, No. 10 165-pounder Anthony Perrotti, No. 20 184-pounder Nicholas Gravina, and No. 9 heavyweight Billy Smith, were also recognized as top contestants.
The matches can be watched at http://www.btn2go.com/schedule?date=2015-12-24&sids=WR tomorrow and on Wednesday. The championship finals will air live on Wednesday on the Big Ten Network.