In March, Rutgers Wrestling picked up two All Americans as Anthony Ashnault and Ken Theobold placed at the NCAA Wrestling Championships. For Ashnault it was his third while Theobold earned his first.
And they’re both Jersey kids.
Rutgers fans have said for years that if RU could keep the top New Jersey kids at home - at least in football if not other sports - the Knights would be champions. For Scott Goodale’s program, he’s pretty much been doing that. Every wrestler in the RU lineup at the Big Ten Championships was a Garden State product. In fact, of the 28 wrestlers on the squad this past season, only six were from out of state.
So, New Jersey wrestling is serving Rutgers well. And it’s also doing well when it travels elsewhere. But which state does produce the best wrestling. That can be pretty subjective, but one way might be to look at All Americans, or NCAA finalists, or.... Well, here we are so let’s use the good folks at FloWrestling to give us something to talk about.
What state is the best at producing All-Americans? We take a look at the numbers over the past 5,10, and 15 years. https://t.co/6ga3dprWzd— FloWrestling (@FloWrestling) May 19, 2017
On sheer numbers, Pennsylvania is dominant. It had the most NCAA finalists (five) and the most NCAA qualifiers....by a ton.
As a pretty large state with a strong wrestling history - not to mention a slew of D1 programs if a kid stays home - the Keystone State outperformed every other state in this metric. But look at New Jersey: the third highest number of qualifiers, and about a quarter of them wore an “R” on their chest.
Quality wins out
Okay, what about All Americans? There can only be 80 (ten weight classes, top eight finish). Who wins that battle? This time Pennsy comes in second to Ohio, but only by a whisker.
But again, look where New Jersey sits? Look at that list and you’ll also understand why the Big Ten continues to be a dominant force - the dominant force - in wrestling.
But those big guys are bullies
Ohio. Pennsylvania. Illinois. Large states with large populations. You’d sort of expect that with a larger population you’d get more quality wrestlers. Of course, you have to have a culture that promotes wrestling. California, with its largest population in the nation falls in behind New Jersey. New York and Texas are the same. So, who produced the most NCAA qualifiers this year on a per capita basis?
With a population about one-tenth that of New Jersey, South Dakota produced four NCAA qualifiers, or one for every 214,000 population. Then came Iowa, where apparently you are given a singlet at birth. The Hawkeye State, with its 13, produced a qualifier for every 240,000 people. Then came....Pennsyltucky with its 49 qualifiers (show off bullies) and a rate of 1:261,000, not that much behind Iowa.
Guess who comes next? Come on, come on....guess.
New Jersey! With its 30 qualifiers (seven from Rutgers) it produced one for every 299,000 residents.
And what does all that mean? For one - and maybe all that needs to be said - Scott Goodale can do a lot of quality recruiting without traveling very far. Look at the next state on the list: Delaware is a short drive. Granted the numbers aren’t large in Delaware, but there is quality.
Wrestling may very well be one of the true “fence the garden” plays for Rutgers. Keep the good ones home and we just may see even more All Americans.