The time has come.
Anthony Ashnault and Nick Suriano will go for gold at the 2019 NCAA Championships. Rutgers has never had a national champion and came ever so close, losing 5-1 to Iowa’s Spencer Lee in the 125 pound finals in 2018.
Suriano will make his second appearance after taking out Michigan’s Stevan Micic 4-1, while Ashnault finally broke through in his third trip to the semi finals, beating Princeton’s Matt Kolodzik for the fourth time, 2-0.
The finals will start at Heavyweight (285), so Suriano will the get the first crack to be the “first champion,” but if they both win, we’ll just combine them...fair? Fair.
When and How to Watch/Listen
Watch: 7 PM ET on ESPN
Listen: 7 PM ET on 88.7 WRSU FM/WRSU Online
(P.S. I might be making a special appearance alongside my protege Matt Howe and his broadcast partner Garret Gotthelf)
A Look at the Finals
149: No. 1 Anthony Ashnault (31-0) - Rutgers vs. No. 2 Micah Jordan (29-2) - Ohio State
All time series: Ashnault leads 2-0
-Ashnault defeated Jordan 14-10 and 8-6, respectively, in the Cliff Kean Finals and the Big Ten Finals this season. Each match featured Ashnault scoring multiple takedowns and coming up clutch. Jordan made it closer in the Big Ten Finals, but a late reversal sealed the deal for Ashnault.
Ashnault has been thriving off his top game in this tournament, showing the ability to ride guys out (see the semi final match vs. Kolodzik). He’s been so dominant on top, it’s easy to forget how deadly he is in neutral when it comes to ankle picks and misdirection.
Jordan thrives off the counter attack and also loves to use single leg attacks and blast doubles. The top game definitely favors Ashnault but Jordan is capable on top as well with tilts, but Ashnault is a different animal.
Look for Ashnault to get offensive early once again vs. Jordan and then work on top to wear down Jordan. Jordan’s been the closest all year with Ashnault, but the man from South Plainfield has tunnel vision to the top of the podium.
133: No. 3 Nick Suriano (28-3) - Rutgers vs. No. 1 Daton Fix (34-1) - Oklahoma State
All time series: Fix leads 1-0
-Here we go again. The revenge tour continues for Suriano, who has earned payback wins over Iowa’s Austin DeSanto and Micic, now will get a second shot at Fix. Their match ended in a 3-2 decision for Fix in a controversial bout. It’s safe to say, there will be a bit more action this time.
These two met in the longest high school and college bouts ever, but it surely won’t take over 30 minutes of real time to finish in the NCAA finals....right?
Suriano has been dominant in this tournament with constant attacks from neutral and pleasantly surprising improvement in his top game. Suriano is not known for riding guys out nor many tilts, but Suriano has opened a new war chest. In his last few matches, Suriano has taken guys down, let them stand up purposely, and then drop down to a double leg takedown for a mat return so he can hook his leg in a “turk position.” With this, Suriano has been able to get a lot of tilts, plus some pins (his quarterfinal win over Minnesota’s Ethan Lizak).
Fix is a great rider. If he gets a takedown, he is content with staying on top and throwing both legs in underneath to prevent the bottom wrestler from doing anything. He can win some close matches, but can also score at will in neutral.
Both wrestlers have very similar styles, but like Ashnault, Suriano is a man on a mission, and he wants to make sure he ends 2019 a little better than last season.