It was, for the most part, a dismal weekend for the Rutgers University wrestling team as it opened its Big Ten Conference schedule with two losses.
But one bright spot came in the performance of Joey Olivieri as a sophomore at 141 pounds. He won both fights, including Sunday’s 27-12 loss to the Scarlet Knights at Ohio State.
Olivieri wanted to switch to redshirt this season, but that changed the week after Sammy Alvarez, who was the 141-pound starter for the first two months of the season, entered the NCAA transfer portal.
Prior to entering the portal, Alvarez neither weighed in nor attended the Jan. 8 Scarlet Knights match at The Rider due to “discipline issues with his weight,” Rutgers coach Scott Goodale said. It was the third straight season Alvarez had weight problems.
For the second straight season, Olivieri was stripped of his red shirt after Alvarez struggled with his weight. Last year it also came in early January but at 133 pounds. Olivieri went on to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Olivieri capped his weekend with a 2-1 win over Ohio State’s two-time NCAA qualifier Dylan D’Emilio in the No. 1 tiebreak stage.
On Friday night, Olivieri defeated Indiana’s Cayden Rooks 15-2 in Rutgers’ 24-16 loss.
On Sunday, Olivieri D’Emilio, 16th nationally, rode in the first part of the tiebreak phase. D’Emilio then let go of Olivieri early in the second part of the tiebreak period but couldn’t get close to a takedown.
A successful tackle from the Rutgers coaching staff allowed the game to go into overtime after officials initially missed D’Emilio a takdown with 23 seconds left, although Olivieri still had control of the leg.
Goodale threw the challenge stone forcefully, and after officers reviewed the video, the takedown was waived.
Ohio State got off to a quick start in the match, which started at 184 pounds, when Kaleb Romero pinned freshman Brian Soldano with 14 seconds left in the fight in a No. 5 and 14 matchup of the nation’s 184-pounder.
More:Rutgers Wrestling opens Big Ten schedule with loss to Indiana
Romero, who was sixth in the NCAA tournament last season with 184, led 5-1 and had blocked drive timing when Soldano tried to transition into him. Romero then threw in a power half nelson and flipped Soldano on his back for the fall.
What it means
Ohio State (8-1), ranked No. 7 in the country, improved to 2-0 in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes also improved to an all-time 9-0-1 against Rutgers.
That loss to the Buckeyes wasn’t nearly as frustrating as Rutgers’ 19-14 setbacks over the past two seasons. Those fights ended in the final fight, including last season when Ohio State wrestled without multiple starters.
Rutgers (8-3) fell to 0-2 in the Big Ten and their road to the conference isn’t getting any easier.
Rutgers ranked shorthanded
Starting heavyweight Boone McDermott did not weigh in for the second straight match after injuring himself while wrestling Riders David Szuba on Jan. 8. McDermott was medically defaulted in that fight.
Sophomore John O’Donnell has taken McDermott’s place in the last two games. He was defeated by technical fall in both games.
The revolving door at 165 pounds continued when Robert Kanniard, who looked like he was about to make a move to win the starting spot, didn’t interfere. Kanniard suffered a knee injury while being pinned by Indiana’s Nick South in the third period Friday night for what turned out to be a key result in that match, his mother Lisa said.
Connor O’Neill, the starter for most of the first two months of the season, took Kanniard’s place. He was defeated 3-2 by Buckeye’s backup Isaac Wilcox on a takedown with 45 seconds left.
Rutgers will play a home game for the first time since Nov. 11 and a match this season at Jersey Mike’s Arena when they meet Michigan State (7-1, 0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday
The Scarlet Knights will then host Michigan (6-0, 1-0) on January 22 at 2pm at Jersey Mike’s Arena.
Rutger’s season-opening home game against Clarion (Pa.) was at College Avenue Gym.
State of Ohio 27, Rutgers 12
184: Caleb Romero (O) p. Brian Soldano 6:46.
197: Gavin Hoffman (O) d. Billy Janzer 8-3
HWT: Tate Orndorff (O) tf. John O’Donnell 5:31 (15-0).
125: Dean Peterson (R) d. Andres Gonzales 6-4
133: Jesse Mendez (O) d. Joe Heilman 5-1.
141: Joey Olivieri (R) d. Dylan D’Emilio 2-1 (No. 1 tiebreak period.
149: Sammy Sasso (O) md. Anthony White 11-2.
157: Paddy Gallagher (O) d. Andrew Clark 4-3.
165: Isaac Wilcox (O) d. Connor 0’Neill 3-2
174: Jackson Turley (R) by waiver.