The NCAA seems bent on making this match-up a rivalry. Last season the Scarlet Knights completed their best dual season ever with a NWCA National Dual Championship Series win over Lehigh at the RAC.
This year’s dual looks a bit different to me. Even with the availability of Jordan Kutler in question the deep and talented Mountain Hawks look to be favored in at least 6 weight classes. That said, there is a reason they actually wrestle. Rankings aren’t perfect and young men can step up to a challenge. Lehigh has started so many different wrestlers this season that it’s hard to know who is getting the start Friday night.
As a fan there are many quality match ups expected. I think that most of them favor the Mountain Hawks. See you at Grace Hall.
125lbs: Brandon Paetzell (RU) vs. #7 Darian Cruz (LU). Cruz should be too much from neutral for Paetzell to hold off bonus points.
133lbs: #27 Scott DelVecchio (RU) vs #9 Scott Parker (LU). Parker looked good in his return to the mat last weekend. I think that this might be close but that Parker’s pace will take its toll on DelVecchio by the middle of the second period. The question here is will Parker bonus.
141lbs: #5 Anthony Ashnault (RU) vs. #12 Randy Cruz (LU). Ashnualt has been turning it up as we close out the regular season. Can Cruz tie him up and score off counters to make this a match? Will Ashnault go under Cruz or will Cruz go under Ashnault? Shnaulty with a major?
149lbs: #14 Ken Theobold (RU) vs. #11 Laike Gardner (LU). This should be a compelling match up. Both guys are good and seem to be getting better as the season progresses. Both guys are good from neutral but I think that Gardner is quicker and a bit more varied. I also think that Gardner is used to pushing the pace and that may create some separation too. Gardner by 3 points.
157lbs: #17 John Van Brill (RU) vs. #3 Jordan Kutler (LU). I’d like to see this match up but I’m not sure that Kutler will be back in the lineup. Never fear Lehigh is deep in the middle. That said JVB is really developing this season not only can he win exciting matches but he’s been grinding too. I think that Kutler beats Van Brill soundly but if Lane or Schuyler are in the lineup things could break the Scarlet Knights way.
165lbs: Scott of Pafumi (RU) vs. #12 Mitch Minotti/Walter (LU). I don’t think that either Rutgers wrestler is talented enough to beat Minotti but I don’t think that this weight class is settled for Lehigh. Walter looks like a stud but I’m not sure that we’ve seen the best of him outside of the practice room. Does Longo or Wolf see action? I think Lehigh gets the W no matter.
174lbs: #19 Jordan Pagano/Bakuckas (RU) vs. #4 Ryan Preisch (LU). I’ve heard that this is Pagano’s weight class. We will see. Preisch has had a breakout season if you haven’t been paying attention to Lehigh. Preisch can be slowed down if you tie up his wrists in neutral. That said Preisch is a hammer. I see bonus points in his future.
184lbs: #13 Nick Gravina (RU) vs. Andrew Price (LU). Again not sure that Price gets the start but not sure that it matters who Lehigh puts out there. Gravina has more attacks from neutral but if you can frustrate him he can make mistakes. I’ll take Gravina via regular decision.
197lbs: Matt Correnti (RU) vs. Thomas Murray (LU). I’m not sure who will get the start here for LU but I think that Correnti has developed enough this season that he should get the W over Murray. With more match time I think that Murray would be even with Correnti.
285lbs: Razohnn Gross (RU) vs.#16 Doug Vollaro (LU). Gross has made the transition back from football better than I could have imagined. Vollaro has a nice righty high crotch that we don’t see often enough and a descent counter go behind to the right. Gross will be significantly smaller, maybe 40 + pounds smaller. Both guys like to win in OT. I don’t see Gross taking a shot until sudden victory if at all. Can Vollara get to his collar tie and shot before sudden victory? I’ll take Vollaro in regular time but if this thing gets to OT Gross has a big heart.
So if Kutler’s in I have Lehigh winning 7 out of 10.