Battle at the Birthplace Preview

This is a big wrestling weekend: Keystone Classic, NC State Open, Wolfpack Open and more. I’ll be starting off at Battle at the Birthplace Saturday. The match will take place High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, New Jersey prior to a Penn State Rutgers football game. More than 14,000 tickets have been sold, capacity is 52K so you’re not too late to get a ticket. New Jersey D1 wrestling might be at a high point: Rutgers, Princeton and Rider are all ranked in my top 25 and they, like Pennsylvania, still send lots of their home grown talent out of state to other programs. As of right now the forecast looks great 63 degrees and sunny at start time. How many football fans will show up early and check out the event is a mystery. It would be something if they could reach the 20,000 tickets sold number. If you’re in the area make the journey. What makes this dual even more compelling is that lineups might not be totally set and there are at least a few matches with quality guys that are tossups. I’ve been told that Richie Lewis will compete, weight class not confirmed. None of these guys have wrestled in such an unusual atmosphere before – how will they handle it? Rutgers has done a great job promoting this event.
Coach Ayres thoughts
Coach Goodale thoughts

125lbs-Ty Agaisse (P) vs. Sean McCabe (R) these guys haven’t faced each other before and McCabe comes in with a much higher ranking. McCabe was a national qualifier last year and Agaisse was a NJ state champion. If the match does start at 125 can McCabe get what might be much needed bonus points against the true freshman for the Scarlet knights? MD McCabe 4-0

133lbs- Pat D’Arcy (P) vs. #13 Tyson Dippery (R) Dippery is down a couple of weight classes and looking very good. D’Arcy has struggled against a couple of guys that aren’t as good as Dip. Tilt city, Dippery with bonus points. 9-0

141lbs- #8 Matthew Kolodzik (P) vs. #3 Anthony Ashnault (R) I’m looking forward to this one. Kolodzik isn’t your normal Ivy freshman. These guys split at midlands last season with Ashnault getting the placement match victory. Truth be told I’m a fan of both of these guys and I don’t want to pick. I like their mentality, techniques and styles. I hope that it’s an entertaining match.

149lbs- #18 Jordan Laster (P) VS. #14 Kenny Theobold (R) 2 closely ranked national qualifiers going against each other sounds like good viewing. They haven’t faced each other in college. Theobold has a close win over T. Preston and Preston has beaten Laster 3 times. Both guys have very good workout patterns and have improved a bunch since last season. I’ll take Theobold close.12-0

157lbs- Mike D’Angelo (P) vs. #7 Richie Lewis (R). Rutgers could be pitching a shut out up to this point. Lewis will be too much for D’Angelo. I like the way Lewis attacks, high and low with different angles. D’Angelo has some great counters but has had trouble scoring with them against top guys. I don’t see the reason to bump Lewis up unless the score is closer than my guesses. Regular decision for Lewis 15-0

165lbs- Joe Tavoso (P) vs. Willie Scott or John Van Brill (R). This is where things get a little more interesting. I haven’t seen Tavoso wrestle in person. He needs a win here for Princeton to make this competitive. 15-3

174lbs- #16 Jonathan Schleifer (P) vs. #22 Phil Bakuckas (R) Schleifer had a 6-3 victory over Bakuckas last season. Schleifer had all the takedowns and Bakuckas struggled to get a finish. Schleifer via regular decision 15-6

184lbs- #17 Ian Baker (P) vs. #13 Nick Gravina (R). I haven’t seen Baker wrestle in person but I watched his big pin over Jack Dechow. He looks like a hammer on top. I have seen Gravina a lot. I love his physical style and thought that he’d have a higher finish last March. I think that Gravina can win positions from neutral if he’s aggressive. Baker’s 3 point stance didn’t look strong enough to stop Nick’s attacks. That said I’ve seen Gravina get ridden before and have his energy sapped. I see this one as a toss up too.

197lbs- #4 Brett Harner (P) vs. Matt Correnti (R) Senior All American Harner looks to be in a different class here. Harner’s strength and technique are excellent. The good news for Rutgers fans is that Harner isn’t a bonus point machine. I think that Harner has as good a chance at a fall as he does a major decision. Brett wins by fall to make it interesting. 15-12 Rutgers

285lbs- Ray O’Donnell (P) vs. Razohn Gross or Marc McDonald (R) O’Donnell MFFed out of the Southeast Open but Coach Ayers said that he’s ready and a go. He’s on a different level than both of Rutger’s possible starters. O’Donnell by fall 15-18 Princeton.
I think that Rutgers is going to have to shuffle their middle lineup if they want to win. It sounds like moving Lewis up to 65 is the easiest option. After that the team in better shape early in the season has the best chance to win this event. I’d say Rutgers with slightly less rigorous academic demands might have the edge here. Although if you watch the interview with Coach Ayers he and his staff aren’t treating this like just another big dual. These two teams aren’t fierce competitors for recruits but they are joining the game in big time promotion of the sport in the Garden State. So in my very hazy crystal ball I see that whomever wins their bouts by the largest margin at 141 and 184 as the winner of the dual meet. I see them splitting 5 matches each and the Tigers getting the win due to bonus points.