While an undefeated home season feels special to the departing senior Rutgers wrestlers, the successes expand beyond a strong 2017 showing.
Five years of college wrestling is a grind, but the results are clear to a long-time fighter for the program in Phil Bakuckas.
“My freshman year, we wrestled in the Barn with a couple-hundred fans,” he said. “My senior year, we're wrestling in the football stadium with 16,000. You can see where this program is going, and it's going in the right direction. Everyone's working really hard in the room every single day. Donny [Pritzlaff] was obviously a great pickup for our team. I know they're going to keep pushing us through, and this team is only going to go up from here.”
Bakuckas and 149-pounder Ken Theobold both took home clean victories in their final matches at the RAC.
“It's just a big honor,” Theobold said. “All of our teammates did a great job. They knew what they had to do. To go undefeated at home and have an amazing crowd, an amazing atmosphere here at the RAC, it's emotional. Phil touched on that. I'm happy with the way it ended from a duals standpoint. I'm going to take this and fuel myself for the upcoming month.”
Heavyweight Razohnn Gross gave the final spark for Rutgers fans with an overtime win via reversal. He improves to 11-8 on the season. He celebrated with a jumping bearhug with head coach Scott Goodale.
“Razohnn is crazy like that,” Goodale said. “I kind of knew. I got too excited. I knew he would do something like that. I don't know why [assistant coach John Leonardis] doesn't go out there first. He's excited. That's a huge win for him, man. You can tell how much better he's gotten from a ride-out situation. I told the guys the other day, 'I don't know if he can ride a bike, but he found a way to ride somebody in overtime a couple times now.”