PISCATAWAY, N.J. - No. 10 Rutgers wrestling (4-0) and Princeton (0-1) drew the second-highest crowd in NCAA dual history Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium, where the Scarlet Knights defeated the Tigers, 19-16, in the "Battle at the Birthplace" presented by Autoland.
The teams split the dual, 5-5, but bonus points for RU in the form of two major decisions and a tech fall from Nicholas Gravina at 184 pounds gave the Scarlet Knights their 21st-straight win in the series.
"I thought it was an awesome atmosphere," said head coach Scott Goodale. "It was a little bit different obviously than being in the RAC, it's hard to get that feel of the fans right on the mat, but still, tremendous crowd, and good for New Jersey wrestling. I want to thank Princeton and their administration for all their help through this, about seven, eight months in the making."
A total of 16,178 fans filed into High Point Solutions Stadium Saturday for the historic dual match against the Tigers. Rutgers picked up decision wins from No. 13 Tyson Dippery at 133 pounds and Ken Theobold at 149 pounds, followed by back-to-back major decisions from John Van Brill (157 pounds) and Richie Lewis (165 pounds). Gravina captured RU's final win of the afternoon, 24-3, against No. 17 Ian Baker.
At 125 pounds, Sean McCabe dropped a tightly contested 2-0 bout against Ty Agaisse. Agaisse rode McCabe out in the second period and escaped with 1:18 left in the third for the victory.
No. 13-ranked Dippery built a 6-0 lead after two periods and never looked back, despite D'Arcy scoring a takedown in the final period. Dippery improved to a team-best 8-0 on the year.
No. 3 Anthony Ashnault fell by a last-second takedown against No. 10 Matthew Kolodzik in the series rubber-match between the two in-state foes. Ashnault led 3-2 down the stretch, but Kolodzik struck with five ticks left for the win and a 2-1 lead all-time against Ashnault.
Van Brill scored six points on a takedown and four-point near fall in the final period to close out a 14-3 major decision with riding time. Lewis (1-0), ranked No. 6 at 157 pounds, stepped on the line a match later at 165 pounds and overpowered Joe Tavoso in a 17-6 major decision.
No. 16 Jonathan Schleifer and Phillip Bakuckas were knotted at 1-1 after seven minutes at 174 pounds. After 40 seconds of sudden victory and a long scramble, the wrestlers returned to the neutral position, where Schleifer attacked and scored a takedown on the edge.
Gravina, ranked No. 14, stayed unbeaten with a dominant performance against No. 17 Ian Baker. The Allendale, New Jersey, native scored 20 points in the final two periods, ending the match with four back points in a 24-3 final. Gravina's win made it a 19-9 match with two bouts left.
The Tigers captured wins in the final two matches at 197 pounds and heavyweight, but could not make up the difference in the team score. Anthony Messner battled to lose by decision against No. 4 Brett Harner, 8-2, while Marc McDonald fell to No. 18 Ray O'Donnell, 12-4.
"I looked around and I was pretty proud we were able to pull this off," Goodale said. "I can tell you this: we need to get better as a team. I don't think that was our best performance. Obviously it's November, it's early, and we're going to be a lot better down the line and a lot better in all three areas of wrestling - top, bottom, and neutral."
The Scarlet Knights are now 42-33-5 all-time against Princeton and have won 21-straight matches in the series since 1993.
Rutgers returns to action next Sunday at the "Grapple at the Garden." The Scarlet Knights are scheduled to wrestle No. 8 Cornell (12:30 p.m.) and Columbia (10:30 a.m.).