Anthony Ashnault was just named the Big Ten wrestler of the week after taking out previous No. 1 Matt Kolodzik of Princeton last Sunday.
Is there anything he can’t do?
He is now 19-0 on the season with four wins over top ten opponents. He is just different this season.
There is only one thing on his, the coaches, and the fans minds: will he be standing at the top of the podium in Pittsburgh? To become Rutgers’ first every national champion, he’ll need to battle through certain individuals once more: Kolodzik, Ohio State’s Micah Jordan, Oklahoma State’s Kaden Gfeller, and others.
Rutgers wrestlers have had targets on their back. Nick Suriano was ranked No. 1 last season at 125 lbs. He would miss some time afterwards due to injury but still managed the No. 4 seed at NCAA’s and became the first Scarlet Knight in the National Finals.
Ashnault, is now in a similar position. He is unbeaten, new No. 1, and seemingly conquered the entire weight class heading into tournament season.
We have now had a No. 1 wrestler in their respective weight class in back-to-back seasons, according to @InterMat & @FloWrestling— Rutgers Wrestling (@RUWrestling) February 5, 2019
2017-18: Nick Suriano (125)
2018-19: Anthony Ashnault (149)#RelentlessPursuit | #GoRU pic.twitter.com/UqWUZW5Mbm
The accolades are already there for Ashnault to be the best wrestler in program history: 110 wins, the first 3x All-American in program history, and also a 2x Big Ten Champion. Barring anything disastrous, Ashnault will become the first 4x All-American in program history and possibly added his third Big Ten title to go along with a National Title.
It seems the hard part of the regular season is over for Ashnault, but all fans know no one can be taken lightly. The Big Ten Tournament will be a grind to earn that No. 1 seed at NCAA’s. NCAA’s will be no cakewalk either. Ashnault has been to the semi finals twice, finishing 8th, 4th and 6th in his three tournament appearances.
On a scale of 1-10, this news is, no doubt, a 10. pic.twitter.com/hJMx9prKEj— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) February 5, 2019
I’ve covered Ashnault’s career ever since I was a freshman at Rutgers back in 2014-15 and watched him blossom as the reason why Rutgers can be one of the top wrestling programs in the country. He is a prime example of a stud staying home to represent New Jersey. A national champion goes a long way in helping out with recruiting and future success in wrestling. The Scarlet Knights could have two with Ashnault and Suriano.
Ashnault has been a contender for a national title contender his last two trips to NCAA’s but one nemesis stood in his way: Dean Heil of Oklahoma State.
This season, Ashnault has not only dispatched his current nemesis: Kolodzik, but also took out the other contenders. He has a target on his back from the entire weight class for the first time in his career. Guess what, he is thriving in that type of situation.
Of course, should Ashnault not capture a national title, it would be really disappointing. But make no mistake, his legacy will live on in program history. A pioneer of sorts. A true display of a Jersey kid having a historic career right at home. That will be a message to many more young wrestlers for years to come.
As Ashnault will continue to do, I urge you all to “Stay Mobbin.”