PISCATAWAY, NJ - The Rutgers wrestling team was coming off a 21-day stretch without competing on their home turf when they took on the Maryland Terps in front of their home crowd on Friday night.
During that stretch, the team suffered a close 17-16 upset loss to Big Ten rival Minnesota, and had one home match postponed due to inclement weather. On Friday night, the Scarlet Knights got their program back on track when they ran through the Terps by a 30-3 margin.
The dual started off as it usually does, with action at 125 pounds. Rutgers’ Sean McCabe put his team’s first points up on the board when he took on Maryland’s Michael Beck. A single leg takedown one minute into the match started things off for the 11-7 Rutgers junior, and that snowballed into a 13-4 major decision victory.
South Plainfield native No. 6 Anthony Ashnault got a chance to put his upset loss to Minnesota’s Tommy Thorn behind him, when he took on Maryland’s Alfred Bannister at 141 pounds. The former Tiger stand out was the aggressor in the early parts of the match, but Bannister’s conservative gameplan prevented any takedowns from Ashnault. A stalling call gave Ashnault a 1 point lead going into the second period, and an escape and a single leg takedown gave him a 4-1 lead at the end of it. Despite a late push by Bannister at the end, Ashnault took the match 7-5.
No. 8 Anthony Perrotti got a decisive win when he tech falled Tyler Manion 15-0. The win was Perrotti’s third tech this season, and it improves the former West Essex standout’s season mark to 15-2.
Things got a bit hairy for the Scarlet Knights at 132 pounds. No 18. Anthony Giraldo found himself on his back and fighting to keep his shoulders off the mat just seconds into his match against Maryland standout No 16 Geoffrey Alexander. Giraldo fought off his back for almost the entire first minute of the match. The crowd cheered when Giraldo escaped, and the rest of the match was fairly competitive, but the four near fall points the Scarlet Knight gave up in the match’s first exchange proved to be too much to hurdle.
The 9-2 decision loss was Rutgers; only concession on the night. Although head coach Scott Goodale said he appreciated Giraldo’s toughness, he also asserted that Giraldo needs to work on changing his usually methodical style when he’s down big.
“He fought and you want to see that,” said Goodale. “He didn’t quit, and a lot of guys would have just stayed there. It’s a long time to fight off your back. I guess this will sound negative but now you’re down 6-1 and know you’ve got to really change your style….. I don’t want to sound negative, but he sat around for the next couple periods where he could’ve really closed the gap.”
The dual closed with some overtime heavyweight action. After eight minutes, Rutgers’ Billy Smith and Terp Dawson Peck were tied 5-5. Smith held down Peck in the first extra period, and got an escape and a late takedown to win the match in the second OT. The two big men had some previous history, having competed against each other twice in the Midlands tournament with Smith winning both times. The match got a bit personal too, as the heavyweights seemed to be trading words and gestures throughout it. After the match, Smith said the results ended up really doing the talking for him.
“At Midlands he was running his mouth saying ‘wait til the 28th’ and it turned out I had him the next day and I beat him again,” said Smith. “(Peck) likes to run his mouth, but where I come from, I beat you three times you call me daddy.”
Next up for the Scarlet Knights is some interstate competition against Princeton on Sunday. Even though his team just surpassed their previous Big Ten win record, Goodale says the only thing that’s on his mind is their upcoming Ivy League opponent.
“It’s not a Big Ten match, but it’s just as big,” said Goodale. “It’s an in state rivalry with a team that’s very very good, and that’s where we should shift our attention, not on the direction of the program or where we’re at or how good we can be. We’ll be excited for Sunday.”