PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- No. 13 Rutgers wrestling ended the regular season with a convincing 28-6 win over visiting Northwestern Sunday afternoon at the Rutgers Athletic Center. The Scarlet Knights won at eight weight classes in the match, finishing the year with a 12-4 overall record and a program best 6-3 mark in Big Ten Conference competition.
The dual ended with a 3-2 tiebreaker win at heavyweight from Razohnn Gross, his fifth win in the last six matches.
With the RU win and Nebraska loss, the Scarlet Knights will end the regular season tied for fourth in the conference, the best position in program history.
"It's been great. They were really into it today too," said head coach Scott Goodale of the fan support at home, where the Scarlet Knights went undefeated this season (6-0). "We were scoring a lot of points early. When you wrestle with an exciting style, they get into it. That last match they got into it and I think that's what puts Razohnn [Gross] over the top. It's become a real home mat advantage."
RU (12-4, 6-3) is expected to learn late Sunday its matchup in the 2017 National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Dual Championship Series, scheduled for next weekend. The Scarlet Knights topped No. 7 Lehigh at the RAC last season, 18-15.
The Scarlet Knights blanked the Wildcats on the front side of intermission and led the dual by a 17 to -1 margin due to a flagrant misconduct penalty point charged against NU after the 157-pound match.
Brandon Paetzell and Anthony Rubinetti scrambled their way through seven minutes at 125 pounds, but Paetzell won the last one at the horn for a takedown and 4-2 win. The win for Paetzell avenges a loss to Rubinetti earlier this season and improves his record 14-7.
Scott DelVecchio followed up by coasting to an 11-4 decision at 133 pounds, moving to 17-10 on the season.
At 141 pounds, No. 5 Anthony Ashnault captured his 11th straight win with a 21-6 tech fall against Alec McKenna. Seventeen of Ashnault's 23 wins this season have come by bonus points, the most of any Scarlet Knight.
No. 14 Kent Theobold bounced back from a loss last time out to win, 10-3, against Shayne Oster. Also winning before the break was No. 18 John Van Brill, who won is 20th match of the season by an 8-3 final against Ben Sullivan.
The Wildcats earned two wins in the second half of the dual, beginning with a 14-2 major decision from Johnny Sebastian against Anthony Pafumi at 165 pounds. The other Wildcat win came at 197 pounds, where Jacob Berkowitz took down Matthew Correnti with 20 seconds left for a 5-3 decision.
174-pounder Phillip Bakuckas relished in his senior day moment, making quick work of Braxton Cody in a 16-0 tech fall in the opening period. The win was Bakuckas' 66th as a Scarlet Knight.
No. 13 Nicholas Gravina shut out Mitch Sliga, 4-0, to get back in the win column and improve to 17-7. Gravina's previous two matches came against top-10 opponents.
Gross ended the dual with his third overtime win at the RAC this season. Gross scored a reversal in the opening tiebreaker period and held Conan Jennings down over the next 30 seconds for a 3-2 win. Overall, Gross is 11-8.
Prior to the match, the program honored its senior class of Bakuckas, Sean McCabe, Pafumi, Dylan Painton, Josh Patrick and Theobold.
"I'm just proud of those seniors," Goodale said. "They've stuck through it. It's a hard thing to do, five years of this sport, especially if you're not always the guy. To all of them, we have a great appreciation. That's the best way to put it, we have a tremendous appreciation for them and what they've done for this program."
Following next weekend's postseason dual, the Scarlet Knights will look ahead to championship season, beginning with the Big Ten Championships from March 4-5 in Bloomington, Indiana. Following the conference tournament, RU will compete in the 2017 NCAA Championships from March 16-18 in St. Louis.
125: Brandon Paetzell (RU) dec. over Anthony Rubinetti (NU), 4-2; RU leads, 3-0
133: Scott DelVecchio (RU) dec. over Jason Ipsarides (NU), 11-4; RU leads, 6-0
141: No. 5/5/7 Anthony Ashnault (RU) tech fall over Alec McKenna (NU), 21-6; RU leads, 11-0
149: No. 14/17/13 Ken Theobold (RU) dec. over Shayne Oster (NU), 10-3; RU leads, 14-0
157: No. 18/14/13 John Van Brill (RU) dec. over Ben Sullivan (NU), 8-3; RU leads, 17-(-1)*
165: Johnny Sebastian (NU) major dec. over Anthony Pafumi (RU), 14-2; RU leads, 17-3
174: Phillip Bakuckas (RU) tech fall over Braxton Cody (NU), 16-0; RU leads, 22-3
184: No. 13/12/13 Nicholas Gravina (RU) dec. over Mitch Sliga (NU), 4-0; RU leads, 25-3
197: Jacob Berkowitz (NU) dec. over Matthew Correnti (RU), 5-3; RU leads, 25-6
HWT: Razohnn Gross (RU) dec. over Conan Jennings (NU), 3-2 (TB-1); RU wins, 28-6