Wrestling takes the mat at home

Danny Rice, Sports Contributor

Beavers face off with Big Ten, Big 12 conference foes at Gill this weekend

Oregon State makes their regular season home debut Saturday against Rutgers at 11 a.m. and Utah Valley at 1 p.m.

The No. 17 Beavers (2-1) are enjoying a good start to their season as they won every weight class at the Mike Clock Open two weeks ago. They followed that up by going 2-1 in duals last weekend at the Northeast duals. 

They started off the day losing to then No. 10 Nebraska by a score of 25-6 but then rattled off two straight wins over No. 25 Northern Iowa 23-12 and then No. 19 West Virginia by a score of 23-9. 

Head Coach Jim Zalesky was proud of his team’s performance against their competition.

“We learned a lot of places where we need to get better, “ Zalesky said. “As the day wore on, we got better.”

On Saturday, the Beavers first face the No. 15 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-1), a team that was also at the Northeast duals last weekend. The Scarlet Knights were defeated early on by No. 22 Oklahoma 19-18 but then, like the Beavers, won their remaining two duals over Northern Iowa 28-10 and No. 13 North Carolina 19-13. 

Although this will be the first meeting between the two schools in a dual format, Zalesky is familiar with the opposition.

“Their team is similar to ours, “ Zalesky said. “Some of their guys came out and trained with us last summer so we know who they are and it should be a good dual meet.”

According to the Intermat rankings, Rutgers possess three ranked wrestlers in redshirt sophomore 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault (No. 3), redshirt senior 165-pounder Anthony Perrotti (No. 9) and redshirt senior heavyweight Billy Smith (No. 7). 

Ashnault garnered All-American honors in 2015, finishing 8th at the NCAA tournament. Perrotti received All-American honors in 2014 where he also finished 8th at the NCAA tournament, and Smith is a three-time NCAA qualifier. 

Senior 165-pounder Seth Thomas, who is ranked No. 12 and will face Perrotti come Saturday, is welcoming the challenge.

“I look forward to matches against ranked guys, “ Thomas said. “I want to wrestle the best guys. Anyone can be beat. All that matters is what you do on the mat.”

Redshirt sophomore heavyweight Amarveer Dhesi, who is ranked No. 5, is not stressing about facing a high ranked opponent.

“I’m not too focused on the other guy, “ Dhesi said. “I really don’t look at rankings—they are useless to me. I just worry about what I need to do. If I wrestle smart and hard, I’ll come out on top.”

Oregon State finishes their day off against the Utah Valley Wolverines (1-2). The Beavers defeated the Wolverines 36-6 last season, but there are many changes to both teams’ lineup from a year ago and Zalesky is expecting another good test from them.

“They got some good individuals, “ Zalesky said. “They’re a team that is getting better every year and they’re a pretty good Division I team.”

Utah Valley has two ranked wrestlers with senior 125-pounder Chasen Tolbert (No. 12) and senior 133-pounder Jade Rauser (No.18). Tolbert is a returning NCAA qualifier and Rauser is the program’s first ever three-time NCAA qualifier.

Sophomore 125-pounder Ronnie Bresser, who is ranked No. 10, and Tolbert faced off last year at the Reno Tournament of Champions where Bresser came out on top 7-4. 

Thomas is optimistic of his team’s chances this weekend.

“If we wrestle like we are capable of and don’t hold back and wrestle hard,” Thomas said. “Good things will happen.”

On Twitter: @DRice1730