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Anthony Ashnault named assistant coach for Rutgers wrestling

The 2019 national champion replaces John Leonardis on the coaching staff.

NCAA Wrestling: Wrestling Championships Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Ashnault, the 2019 national champion at 149 pounds and all-time winningest wrestler in program history, has been hired as an assistant coach with Rutgers. Head coach Scott Goodale announced the move on Tuesday. Ashnault replaces longtime assistant John Leonardis, who recently became the executive director of the Scarlet Knights Wrestling Club in April.

“I could not be more excited for Anthony to join our staff,” Goodale said. “Bringing Anthony back to coach has been our vision for a long time, and I believe he has an incredible future in this sport as a coach and leader. He has been the face of Rutgers’ wrestling and we are fortunate the next step in his journey will be right here ‘On the Banks’”.

The South Plainfield native owns a program record 123 wins and finished his career with a 32-0 senior campaign that ended in a national title. He was also a four-time All-American and three-time Big Ten champion. Ashnault earned his bachelor’s degree in planning and public policy in 2018 and his master’s degree in global sports business in 2020. He has been around the program

“I am really excited to start a new venture in my career and return home to Rutgers,” Ashnault said. “I am forever grateful for all of the help and guidance Rutgers University, Rutgers Athletics and Rutgers wrestling provided during my time as a student-athlete. It is an honor to accept this job and to be able to give back to those who are pursing the same type of dreams I was able to accomplish here at Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights are coming off a year in which the program had three wrestlers earn All-American status in the same season for the first time ever. The Rutgers coaching staff led by Goodale and associate head coach Donny Pritzlaff is as good as any duo in college wrestling. Adding Ashnault to the staff maintains stability and infuses even more credibility to the practice room.

“Anthony not only represents the core values that shape our championship culture but demonstrates that NCAA and Big Ten titles can be won right here at Rutgers, “said Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs. “Bringing Anthony back on Goodale’s staff is incredibly exciting. He will have a tremendous impact on our student-athletes who are all attempting to accomplish the same dreams Anthony had when he competed for the Scarlet Knights.”

Ashnault also continues to pursue his own dreams on the mat as a member of USA Wrestling. He competed at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials last month after winning a freestyle gold medal at the Pan American Championships last year. His ability to grapple with members of the Rutgers wrestling team will prove invaluable experience for the roster.