LAWRENCEVILLE – Devon Britton has been the utility man throughout his collegiate wrestling career at Rutgers University.
Sunday, during the Scarlet Knights’ non-conference match against in-state rival Rider University at Rider’s Alumni Gymnasium, Britton gave his teammates, coaches and Rutgers’ fans a jolt of energy by defeating the Broncs’ 2021 NCAA qualifier McKenzie Bell 7-4 at 141 pounds.
The wins by Britton and another by redshirt sophomore Robert Kanniard at 165 pounds, sparked Rutgers to a 26-9 win in in its final match before it begins Big Ten Conference action Friday night at Indiana.
Britton, a redshirt sophomore, was filling in for nationally-ranked Sammy Alvarez, who did not weigh due to “discipline issues with his weight”, Rutgers coach Scott Goodale said.
Goodale said Alvarez’s future status is to be determined.
“We’ve got to sit down as a staff and figure that out,” Goodale said.
The options for Goodale and his assistant coaches at 141, should they decide to go in a different direction, could be pulling the redshirt off sophomore Joey Olivieri for a second straight season or Britton.
It is the third straight season, Alvarez has had issues with weight. The last two seasons, the issues came with getting down to 133. Olivieri took Alvarez’s spot at 133 last season in January.
Meanwhile, Britton, who wrestled at 133 pounds while filling in for starter Joe Heilmann Friday night in the Scarlet Knights’ 45-0 rout at Bloomsburg (Pa.) State University, took advantage of his opportunity.
“I wanted capitalize on the opportunity,” Britton said. “At this level, you don’t get many opportunities. I just wanted to get a win for the team. Whatever the coaches ask me to do, I am going to give my best.”
Britton, who pinned Friday night, said the move up to 141 was not that difficult. One reason, it probably was not is because he was the workout partner for five-time All-American Sebastian Rivera late last season.
“It’s not a big difference. You just feel bigger,” Britton said.
After giving up the first takedown, Britton outwrestled Bell. He broke a 3-3 tie with a takedown early in the third period and then clinched the win with a takedown in the final seconds.
Goodale was clearly energized by Britton’s grit and heart. In the final seconds, Goodale turned toward the Rutgers fans and gave several fist pumps and then hugged Britton.
“He’s loved by our team. That’s why you saw the emotion,” Goodale said. “I’m super happy for him. When you’re the backup all the time, it’s hard to get your chance. He took advantage of it. Today was his day and Friday night was his night, too. It’s great having that kind of depth.”
“No one deserved it more,” Rutgers sophomore 157-pounder Andrew Clark said. “He goes into the room (wrestling room) every day and works his tail off. He’s very straight-lined and does his job. I’m proud of him. ”
The result, in a bout, Rider appeared to be a solid favorite, gave Rutgers a 9-0 lead.
KANNIARD MAKES HIS CASE TO BE THE STARTER AT 165
Kanniard, who returned to the lineup Friday night defeated Hunter Mays 8-6 on a takedown with 53 seconds remaining in matchup of former Shore Conference state champions
Kanniard was the 2019 NJSIAA 160-pound during his senior season at Wall. Mays was a state champion the last two seasons at Howell.
The starter at 157, the last two seasons, Kanniard had not started in a dual meet until he won by major decision at 165 Friday night. Goodale said Kanniard had an assortment of injuries throughout the first semester.
“It really limited how much time he could be on the mat until he was ready to go,” Now, he is ready to go,” Goodale said.
With sophomore Connor O’Neill having been inconsistent as the starter at 165 the first two months of the season and Clark having dropped down from 165 to 157 before the season, Kanniard could be in line to perhaps be the starter at 165 when the Scarlet Knights begin the Big Ten Conference season Friday night at Indiana.
Jackson Turley (174) made it 22-0 and clinched the match with an 11-5 win over Shane Reitsma
Freshman Tony White extended the Scarlet Knights’ lead to 13-0 with an 11-2 major decision over Bryan Miraglia. Miraglia was taking the place of returning NCAA qualifier Quinn Kinner, who did not weigh in.
White had a takedown in the first period, another second in the second and two more in the third.
Andrew Clark (157) made it 16-0 Rutgers at intermission with a 4-3 win over Colton Washleski on the riding time point. Clark rode Washleski out in the third period. Both wrestlers were given stalling points in the third period. Clark got his early in the period and Washleski his with 25 seconds left. Clark was then able to ride Washleski the remaining time while avoiding another stalling call.
e bout, but order was quickly restored.
Rutgers grabbed a 3-0 lead when in a matchup of former Shore Conference NJSIAA champions, Scarlet Knights’ redshirt freshman Dean Peterson defeated Rider sophomore Tyler Klinsky 2-0.
Peterson was the NJSIAA champion at 113 in 2019 and 120 in 2020 and the state finalist at 106 in 2018 during his scholastic career at St. John Vianney.
Klinsky was the NJSIAA champion at 113 and the state finalist at 106 during his scholastic career at Middletown High School North.
Peterson rode Klinsky out in the second period and then escaped three seconds into the third period.
Graduate student Joe Heilmann extended the Scarlet Knights’ lead to 6-0 with a 6-1 win over Richie Koehler.
Heilmann got a takedown 47 seconds into the bout, rode Koehler the remainder of the period and then got an escape and another takedown in the second period.
RUTGERS 26, RIDER 9
125: Dean Peterson (Rutgers) d. Tyler Klinsky 2-0
133: Joe Heilmann (Rutgers) d. Richie Koehler 6-1
141: Devon Britton (Rutgers) d. McKenzie Bell 7-4
149: Tony White (Rutgers) md. Bryan Miraglia 11-2.
157: Andrew Clark (Rutgers) d. Colton Washleski 4-3
165: Robert Kanniard (Rutgers) d. Hunter Mays 8-6.
174: Jackson Turley (Rutgers) d. Shane Reitsma 11-5
184: Brian Soldano (Rutgers) md. Ray Weed 14-3
197: Ethan Laird (Rider) d. Billy Janzer 6-1.
HWT: David Szuba (Rider) d. Boone McDermott by medical forfeit, 5:00.