4-time state champ wrestler returns to Rutgers for 6th year

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PISCATAWAY -

One of New Jersey’s all-time greatest wrestlers has returned to Rutgers University for a sixth year.

Anthony Ashnault is the only Scarlet Knight named an All-American three times and was a four-time undefeated state champion during high school in South Plainfield. 

But Ashnault has never won a national title – something he hopes to achieve this season.

"I've got a lot of experience and I'm excited to get one more opportunity at a national title and to compete for Rutgers,” he says.

The wrestler says that a college national title has been his dream since high school.

"What Anthony did by coming here right out of high school, it was great for this program. So, I’m excited to watch this last piece of his journey,” says Rutgers wrestling coach Scott Goodale.

Injuries prevented Ashnault from wrestling his senior year. But a medical hardship granted him one more season of eligibility at Rutgers.

"There's been times in my college career that I've been so worried about everything going on that I didn't really enjoy the moment,” Ashnault says.

Ashnault says that it was the pressure of competing that he worried about often. 

But help came, in the form of Paramus native Nick Suriano, who transferred to Rutgers from Penn State. Suriano finished as a national runner-up last year, which is a first for Rutgers.

"Seeing me do what I do, it definitely motivates him, I think,” Suriano says. “He motivates me."

Ashnault’s success has helped make Rutgers nationally known for wrestling. A multipurpose facility being built in Piscataway will also serve as the new home for wrestling practice next summer.

"We were getting sold out matches just because Penn State was coming to town,” Ashnault says. “But now it's like people want to come see Rutgers wrestling. I just want it to go up from here. I don't want to go back to where we came from. I want it to only go up."

The Rutgers wrestling team is ranked 13th in the preseason. They are coming off their best team finish at the national championships.

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