The Boston University wrestling team finished 1-2 at the Rutgers University quad meet Sunday in New Brunswick, N.J. The Terriers pulled a comeback victory over the United States Merchant Marine Academy, 20-18, but dropped matches to Army, 28-15, and Rutgers, 44-3.
Sophomore John Hall led the way for the Terriers (3-2), winning all three of his matches. Competing in the 197-pound weight class, Hall scored his most spectacular victory over 13th-ranked Richard Starks of Army.
‘Obviously it was a great win for him [against Starks],’ BU coach Carl Adams said. ‘But his wins over the Rutgers guy and Merchant Marine were hard-fought and impressive, too.’
Hall is the fourth BU wrestler to beat a nationally ranked opponent this year. Two of the four, 149-pound Terrier senior Mike Roberts (17th) and 179-pound freshman Hunter Meys (18th), are nationally ranked by Amateur Wrestling News.
‘Our individual performers always shine,’ Adams said. ‘It’s our lack of depth that has slowed us down the stretch.’
BU is returning three injured starters to the lineup next week for the Colonial Athletic Association conference tournament. Junior Abbie Rush, sophomore Alex Cournoyer and freshman Dan Kennedy will return to compete, but Freddy Santaite, a redshirt freshman and top-10 wrestler, will be noticeably absent.
Santaite’s season-ending MCL injury, sustained in the quarterfinals of the Southern Scuffle Tourney in Greensboro, N.C., stripped the Terriers of their most dangerous weapon just one round after Santaite knocked the 10th-ranked Jarrod Garnett of Virginia Tech from the tournament.
‘In our sport, it is almost impossible for us to compete when we lose wrestlers,’ Adams said. ‘We cannot replace a Freddy Santaite.’
Santaite was highly recruited out of high school, but according to Adams, BU signed Santaite from a comparatively narrow recruiting scope. Schools that require less academically have access to certain wrestlers that BU does not.
‘We can shoot for seven or eight percent of high school prospects considering academic limitations,’ Adams said. ‘Other bigger schools can shoot for more around 90 percent.’
Adams looks for elite wrestlers who are also elite students, but BU’s high standards for student athletes make for a fragile frontline.
‘There’s no question other teams have more margin for error,’ Adams said. ‘Other places can get more kids into school.’
The conference tournament next week is an example of this predicament.
‘[No. 18] Hofstra University and [No. 21] Old Dominion University are nationally ranked and very good,’ Adams said. ‘Hofstra beat [No. 14] Penn State University in a dual meet.’
Both schools can recruit from a larger pool than BU due to relaxed academic standards.
According to Adams, Hofstra beating Penn State is a coup, because PSU has such deep tradition in the sport, and tradition affects recruiting. Quality of facilities and depth of budget carry weight in the process as well, but BU doesn’t get the chance to market these features to most prospects.
Living without such luxuries makes every season a grind.
‘We are very careful to keep everyone healthy down the stretch,’ Adams said. ‘The problem is, there will always be injuries in a sport like this. You can count on that.’