ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- An 11-5 decision by sophomore 165-pound Peyton Walsh (Glen Allen, Va.) capped off an impressive rally by the Navy wrestling team, as the Mids captured a 19-15 come-from behind victory over Rutgers Saturday evening at the Westley Brown Field House. The Mids, who are now 4-1 on the year, won each of the last three bouts to overcome a six-point deficit and beat the 14-3 Scarlet Knights for the first time since 2008. The loss was Rutgers' first against an EIWA opponent (6-1) this season.
"I think this team has been different since the Lehigh match," said Navy head coach Bruce Burnett. "I believe they saw the effort they put forth against Lehigh and they knew they were probably only one match away from winning. They began to believe they could not only compete against, but beat some of the great teams out there and we've really wrestled well since then.
"This was a great match tonight," added Burnett. "We wrestled well from top to bottom and if you look at the matches we lost, they were pretty close. I think we continue to have guys stepping up for us, case in point Bobby Burg tonight. But the real key to us winning these matches are those who keep wrestling. It came down to bonus points against Maryland and it came down to bonus points tonight."
Navy got off to a solid start in the match with rookie 174-pound Mathew Miller (Edgewood, Md.) taking advantage of a reversal and two-point nearfall to start the third period to help secure a 9-6 victory over 12th-ranked Greg Zannetti. For Miller, who is ranked 14th nationally, it was a big boost on his resume after coming up short recently to nationally-ranked foes Nathaniel Brown of Lehigh and John Asper of Maryland, each by two points.
"I was really excited about getting this win tonight," said Miller, who improved to 17-4 on the year including a 3-2 mark in dual action. "I haven't gotten any wins as of late over some of these ranked guys, so it was especially nice since he just beat a guy that I just lost to in the last couple of weeks. He (Zanetti) is also the No. 1 wrestler in our conference, so it was a big win for me personally."
The 184-pound match was another thriller with 11th-ranked Dan Rinaldi and 20th-ranked Mason Bailey (Fairmont, W.Va.) needing a tie breaker to decide the match. Both wrestlers were fantastic during regulations where they rode one another out, forcing sudden victory. Nothing gave in the one-minute period which forced the pair of 30-second bouts. Bailey was unable to break free in his 30-second period in the down position, however, Rinaldi managed to turn Bailey in the final five seconds of his bout and get a three-point nearfall to win the match, 5-0 (TB).
With the match deadlocked, team captain Oscar Huntley (Stafford, Va.) provided the Midshipmen not only some breathing room, but quite possibly the key victory en route to the team win. Huntley manhandled Rutgers freshman Hayden Hrymack at 197 pounds and built a 9-1 lead before winning by fall at 4:20 to give the Mids a 9-3 advantage.
An 8-5 win by Rutgers redshirt freshman Billy Smith at heavyweight snowballed into four straight wins for the Scarlet Knights, as Rutgers took a 15-9 lead with three matches remaining.
The first leg in Navy's comeback victory was won by junior Raymond Borja (Virginia Beach, Va.) who has been nothing short of sensational over the last few weeks. Borja scored worked over Rutgers freshman Ken Theobold, scrong nine takedowns en route to a 19-9 major decision at 149 pounds. Borja was called into the starting lineup on Jan. 19 against Maryland and has won all three duals he has wrestled in.
"I think it was a combination of things that kept me out for awhile, including a lack of focus," said Borja following the match. "After Christmas, I came back and had the support of my teammates and Coach Burnett, and just had a renewed energy and focus.
"It wasn't that I didn't have confidence in my ability prior to the Maryland match, but I do think that it reassured me that I could push past any boundaries that mind have stood in front of me. We are one of the most well-conditioned teams in the country, so my thought was that if I'm hurting, the other guy must be dying. I expect the best out of myself and I try to go into every match with that mindset."
The Borja win sliced the deficit to two with two matches remaining when Navy rookie 157-pound Bobby Burg (Gasport, N.Y.) stepped onto the mat to face Rutgers senior Scott Winston. It was a shock by all accounts as Navy's traditional starter, senior Bobby Barnhisel, (River Forest, Ill.), is ranked 14th nationally.
"I've seen Winston wrestle a lot over the years and truthfully I thought Bobby Burg's style of wrestling just matched up better," said Burnett. "Bobby's strengths matched up against Winston's weaknesses and that's why I put Bobby out there. If I didn't think he could get the job done, I wouldn't have put him out there."
Burg, who has spent the season as Barnhisel's backup, prepared mentally for the match, but did not know until just before his match that he would be the one wrestling.
"Coach expects us to be ready to wrestle and so I always prepare as though I'll be the one out there competing for our team," said Burg, who is now 10-7 on the year. "I didn't know until the end of Locksmith's match that I'd be going in."
Burg, indeed, got the job done for the Mids. Although Winston took the early lead with a takedown 14 seconds into the match, Burg quickly scored the reversal and a two-point nearfall to take a 4-2 lead. It was a lead he would never relinquish as he went on to earn a 9-2 win and give the Mids a 16-15 advantage heading into the final bout.
With the match on the line, Walsh faced Rutgers sophomore Nick Visicaro. Visicaro entered the match 11-2 in duals this season, while Walsh was 4-0.
After a scoreless opening period, Walsh would score a pair of takedowns and a pair of escapes to hold a 6-2 advantage going into the final period. Visicaro trimmed Walsh's lead to one at 6-5 with 1:05 to go in the match, but Walsh broke free with 57 seconds left to go up 7-5. He secured the win by taking Visicaro down to the mat with 22 seconds remaining and earning a two-point nearfall en route to an 11-5 win in his match and a 19-15 team victory.
"I really believed before we started the match that it would come down to the end," said Walsh, who is now 21-8 this season. "When we drew weights before the match, I was excited that my weight class was last. I actually like being in that position. I think I thrive on the pressure.
"I tried not to keep score while I was warming up, but I was sure it was going to come down to my match."
The Mids will step away from dual competition next weekend, as Navy will travel to West Point, N.Y. to take part in the annual All-Academy Championship on Saturday beginning at 10:00 am. Last year nine of the Mids' 10 wrestlers placed among the top three as Navy won its fourth consecutive All-Academy title.
174: #14 Mathew Miller (N) dec. #12 Greg Zannetti (R), 9-6 3-0
184: #12 Dan Rinaldi (R) dec. Mason Bailey (N), 5-0 TB 3-3
197: Oscar Huntley (N) fall Hayden Hrymack (R), 4:20 9-3
285: Billy Smith (R) dec. Dan Miller (N), 8-5 9-6
125: Joseph Langel (R) dec. Patrick Prada (N), 5-2 9-9
133: Vincent Dellefave (R) dec. Colton Rasche (N), 6-5 9-12
141: Trevor Melde (R) dec. Joe Locksmith (N), 2-0 9-15
149: Raymond Borja (N) major dec. Ken Theobold (R), 19-9 13-15
157: Bobby Burg (N) dec. #16 Scott Winston (R), 9-2 16-15
165: Peyton Walsh (N) dec. Nick Visicaro (R), 11-5 19-15