Friday night was Senior Night for Rutgers Wrestling. The program had advertised the five seniors who would be honored; the list didn’t include Anthony Ashnault. Despite the fact he hadn’t wrestled all season, this was the senior’s fifth - and traditionally final - year.
We noted that in an earlier post and maybe this is the reason: Rutgers is appealing to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility for the 141-pounder.
In the preseason Media Day, head coach Scott Goodale said that Ashnault’s rehab from shoulder and knee surgeries would cause him to be out for an undetermined time. He said it would be Ashnault’s call as to if and when he was ready to return.
And in the press conference after the Minnesota match, Scott Goodale made it clear what was going to happen. “He’s out til April. He will not compete this year and then we’ll put it into the hands of the NCAA. I’ll assume he’ll get his sixth year, that’s our plan, but I’m not the NCAA.”
Earlier, NJ Advance Media’s James Kratch reported the same thing, and spoke with Ashnault. “It’s really beyond my control, but our compliance staff makes me feel pretty confident that it’s going to work out. They’ve seen a lot of cases, and this looks like a case that would look like it’s in our favor. It makes me feel confident, but there’s really nothing I can do. If I was ready to wrestle, I’d wrestle. And I’m not. I’m not cleared, so I’m not out there. ... I’m just waiting to hear from them.”
Those are the questions that Rutgers fans have been asking all year: Will he wrestle? Will he apply for a sixth year? Will he get the sixth year? It’s now in the hands of the NCAA.
Redshirt freshman Michael Van Brill has done a decent job at 141. He’s only 11-9, but he wasn’t expecting to be in the position at all. Ashnault has been the face of the program for the last four years. As Goodale said in the press conference, he and those seniors who came in with him - like Nick Gravina - put the program on the map, just as it was entering the Big Ten. Ashnault’s absence has been felt, and the opportunity to get him back would go a long way to rebuilding the lineup for 2018-19.
The Ashnault File
- Three-time All-American (2017, 2016, 2015)
- Two-time national semifinalist
- Finished sixth in 2017, fourth in 2016 and eighth in 2015 at NCAA Championships
- Two-time Big Ten Champion (2016, 2017)
- Midlands Championships placewinner: 2017 (Third), 2016 (Third) and 2015 (Fourth)
- NCAA qualifier 2017, 2016 and 2015
- 2015 Big Ten Championships placewinner, finishing fifth
- 2014 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational placewinner, finishing fourth
- 2014 Asics University Freestyle National Champion at 65 KG
- 2014 member of the USA University World Team
- 2014 National Collegiate Open Champion.