By Jason Bryant
Editor, Amateur Wrestling News
No. 14 Bloomsburg (14-2) at Rutgers (14-3)
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 8, 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: College Ave. Gym, New Brunswick, N.J.
SERIES: Bloomsburg leads 7-4
Winter storms now have some funny names. Take Nemo, the storm set to lash out piles of snow upon the Northeast this weekend. Should weather permit, 14th-ranked Bloomsburg will head east to New Jersey to take on host Rutgers in a Friday night tilt at the College Avenue Gym. Both teams come in with solid dual meet records, but Bloomsburg started the year unranked and has risen into the top 15 on the strength of wins over three nationally-ranked programs. Rutgers, if not for a loss against Iowa State, would probably be in the Top 25 as well. On paper, Rutgers and Bloomsburg appear evenly matched in a dual meet setting. Bloomsburg brings five nationally-ranked individuals into the match, while Rutgers has two, but three more wrestlers with NCAA championship experience.
And Scott Goodale still owes me a sandwich.
(Subject to change – Rankings by AWN)
125: Sean Boylan vs. Joey Langel
133: #11 Nick Wilcox vs. Vincent Dellafave
141: Matt Rappo vs. Trevor Melde
149: Josh Roosa vs. Ken Theobold
157: #12 Frank Hickman vs. Scott Winston
165: #11 Josh Veltre vs. Nick Visicaro
174: Chris Smith vs. #13 Greg Zannetti
184: Andre Petroski vs. #10 Dan Rinaldi
197: #15 Richard Perry vs. Dan Seidenberg
285: #16 Justin Grant vs. Billy Smith
125: Rutgers’ Joey Langel comes in 18-6 and has won six out of his last seven bouts, including wins over Brown’s Billy Watterson and Harvard’s Jeff Ott. Langel is still best remembered for his upset win over Chris Notte of Oklahoma State at the NCAA Championships two years ago. He’s been an enigma since. He’ll be a slight favorite over Sean Boylan, a highly-regarded recruit out of Delaware who hasn’t quite turned the corner at the Division I level. Boylan comes in 16-14 and has lost his last three bouts, all in the EWL. Comparative scores won’t tell much of the story, as each wrestler has a win over an opponent who has defeated the other. Langel has a major decision over Lehigh’s Alex Abreu, while Abreu beat Boylan back in November. Boylan topped Arizona State’s Dalton Miller in November, while Miller beat Langel last month. Langel has the ability to open up, as he’s scored eight major decisions on the season. As talented as both were coming out of high school, Langel is at least making a good account of his senior season.
Pick: Langel by decision
133: Part of Bloomsburg’s rise up the rankings has been the performance of 133-pounder Nick Wilcox, who has won 10 of his last 11 bouts and comes in 20-5 and ranked No. 11 in the country. Like Langel, Rutgers’ Vincent Dellefave had high accolades coming out of high school, but hasn’t translated his talent into a berth to the NCAA championships. Both wrestlers are rolling. Dellafave’s on a eight-match win streak with notable wins over Iowa State’s John Meeks and Lehigh’s Randy Cruz. Dellafave briefly broke into the top 20 two weeks ago. Both wrestlers like to scramble, which could make for some tight calls from the officiating crew. Wilcox has the better resume, despite Dellafave’s comparable 19-6 record. Wilcox is a low All-American candidate and should continue his solid season here.
Pick: Wilcox by decision
141: The back-and-forth that is Rutgers’ Trevor Melde continues to make people wonder. There seems to be no pattern in who he beats or who he loses to. He gets pinned by Iowa State’s Luke Goettl, follows that up with a loss to Lehigh’s Laike Gardner, then pins All-American Steve Keith of Harvard. How do you figure this guy out? Bloomsburg’s Matt Rappo seems to have emerged at 141 pounds, at least for the time being. Rappo was battling for the starting job with Missouri transfer Simon Kitzis back in November, but since, Kitzis has wrestled up at 149. Rappo, one of five brothers, has lost three of his last four and his best win this season is either Travis Shaffer of Pittsburgh or Nick Hucke of Missouri — take your pick. With this match in Jersey, you have to lean towards Melde, but in an all or nothing type of way. Maybe that New Jersey funk will pull through in a big way. Going big here.
Pick: Melde by fall
149: Will we or won’t we see Mario Mason in the Rutgers lineup? The much-maligned Rutgers senior hasn’t been in the lineup since early January, pressing Ken Theobold into action. Theobold has a few good early-season wins and a win over Bloomsburg’s Kitzis, who could see time at 149 here. Coach John Stutzman will likely mat Josh Roosa, who was ranked in the early part of the season. Regardless of who Rutgers puts on the mat, Roosa is steady, but not what you’d call consistent — but a case could be made that Roosa was a slow starter in a January loss to Ronnie Garbinsky of Pittsburgh after nearly a month off. If it’s Mason or if it’s Theobold, the outcome remains the same, a close, rather innocuous victory for Roosa.
Pick: Roosa by decision.
157: Bloomsburg’s Frank Hickman comes in ranked 12th and will face off with Rutgers’ senior Scott Winston. Hickman is a point-scoring machine. Eight of his 20 wins this season are by major decision, couple with six technical falls. Winston is on the other end of the spectrum when facing ranked or near-ranked opponents. Winston doesn’t score much when pressured and when you’re matching up with Hickman, the low stance and downblocking won’t necessarily prevent scoring. It’s hard not to wonder why Winston has struggled. The likeable New Jersey native was can’t miss coming out of high school. Hickman was unheralded coming out of North Carolina. Winston might just be in a position where he’s got to stop the bleeding. He’s talented enough to win here or lose ugly.
Pick: Hickman by major decision.
165: New York native Josh Veltre is on a roll. After starting the year 8-5, the Bloomsburg junior has reeled off 19 straight wins and has moved up to 11th in the national rankings. He’ll face Rutgers’ Nick Visicaro, who comes in with a 12-5 record. Visicaro’s only notable win this year came against Rider’s Ramon Santiago in early December. Since, he’s been beating the wrestlers he should, but still losing to a few as well. With the roll Veltre’s on, there’s no reason to believe this won’t be any different than his past 19 matches. Going for No. 20.
Pick: Veltre by decision.
174: One of the biggest mismatches, at least on paper, pits Virginia native Chris Smith of Bloomsburg against 13th-ranked Greg Zannetti. At 14-12, Smith hasn’t been in a position to win against a nationally-ranked opponents. He keeps matches close and rarely gives up bonus points. Zannetti, however, puts himself in a lot of tight matches but finds ways to win. They may not be pretty, they may be extremely well-wrestled, but regardless of who or how he’s wrestling, it’ll be a decision. Only five of Zannetti’s 21 wins have been by bonus — and they’re all major decisions.
Pick: Zannetti by decision.
184: At 13-13, Bloomsburg’s Andre Petroski hasn’t quite performed as well as some may have liked after he transferred back to his native Pennsylvania after a stint at the University of North Carolina. While he’s only been beaten soundly twice this season, drawing 10th-ranked Dan Rinaldi won’t be the match that gets him moving in the right direction. Rinaldi has performed admirably after moving down from 197 pounds and has become Rutgers’ best shot at an All-American in a weight wide open after the top three guys in the country. Rinaldi needs big points to put Rutgers in a position to steal the dual, but as average as Petroski’s record indicates, he still doesn’t give up a lot of points.
Pick: Rinaldi by decision.
197: Rutgers will put 7-8 Dan Seidenberg or 9-13 Hayden Hrymack on the mat against 15th-ranked Richard Perry. In short, this won’t end well for Rutgers as Perry puts the dual in the hands of the Huskies. Another hunch, just like Melde above.
Pick: Perry by fall
285: Justin Grant was the “who’s that?” guy at the Olympic Trials last year. The Easton, Pa. native qualified and came back to Bloomsburg a more driven competitor. Grant comes in 20-3 with all those losses coming to nationally-ranked wrestlers — two of which were All-Americans. Redshirt freshman Billy Smith is 24-5. He’s got some good wins and he’s got some losses that might be attributed to inexperience. This has 3-2 tiebreaker written all over it. Grant’s been winning consistently. Hard to pick against him.
Pick: Grant by decision
AWN Pick: Bloomsburg 22, Rutgers 15