EVANSTON, IL--Some of the best collegiate young wrestlers the country has to offer traveled down to Illinois this weekend to take part in the 55th Ken Kraft Midlands tournament. Thanks to the efforts of sophomore standout Nick Suriano and also Scott DelVecchio, Richie Lewis, and John Van Brill, the Rutgers wrestling team once again showed that they’re a force to be reckoned with this season.
Behind a first place finish from Suriano and third place finishes from DelVecchio, Van Brill, and Lewis, the No.17 Scarlet Knights took the second place spot in the team competition, the best ever Midlands finish in the school’s history.
Suriano, who entered the 125 pound bracket as the top seed, started his tournament run with the same kind of dominance that personified his storied New Jersey high school career. The sophomore outscored his competition on Friday by a 46-9 margin. In his first two Midlands matches ever, Suriano recorded back-to-back tech falls over Steve Polakowski of Minnesota and Iowa’s Justin Stickley, which secured a berth in the quarterfinals.
The former Bergen Catholic standout’s quarter final match pitted him against a solid competitor in former NCAA tournament runner-up No.9 Zeke Moisey. A takedown in the first 10 seconds of period one, two near fall points on a near fall in period two, and an escape a riding time gave Suriano a 6-0 victory over the West Virginia grappler.
Suriano’s semi final match against N. 5 Sebastian Rivera of Northwestern, saw him enter the third period with a tied 3-3 scoreline. The last period was scrappy and well-fought on both ends and Suriano prevailed 7-6 courtesy an escape and a takedown. The win made Suriano Rutgers’ first Midlands finalist since Mario Mason in 2011.
Suriano’s championship match against Ronnie Bresser went to the third period with a 1-1 score thanks to a pair of escapes. A second stall warning on Bresser gave Suriano the point he needed to take home the 12 pound crown, and the first Midlands title in Rutgers history.
DelVecchio, the second-seed at 133 pounds, began his tournament with a 4:58 pin over Maryland’s Danny Bertoni in the first round. The former South Plainfield state champion scored a takedown with 25 seconds left in the match to defeat Mickey Phillipi of Pittsburgh and advance to the semifinals
DelVecchio entered the third period of the semifinal up 3-1 over No. 9 Bryan Lantry but the wrestler from Buffalo was able to pull of a 4-3 upset that knocked DelVecchio to wrestlebacks. The Scarlet Knight bounced back in the consolation rounds, and a 7-5 win over Colin Valdiviez earned him a spot in the third place match, and guaranteed a finish higher than his sixth place Midlands finish in 2016.
DelVecchio found himself in a sudden overtime situation in his third place match which was a rematch against Phillipi. The former South Plainfield standout scored two points for the sudden win.
Lewis, a three-seed, used wins over Brett Bye, Zac Carson, Logan Parks, and May Bethea to earn a spot in the 165 pound third place match against No.1 Anthony Valencia.
Lewis took a 5-2 win to secure the third spot at the podium.
Seventh-seeded Van Bril defeated Jake Danishek , Larry Early and Luke Zilverbeg in the consolation rounds to get to the third place match at 157 pounds, against No.11 Mike D'Angelo of Princeton. Van Bril beat D’Angelo 7-4.
Nick Gravina finshed in sixth place at 184 pounds.
Rutgers finished with 109.5 team points, behind Iowa.