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January 22, 2013
The Rutgers wrestling team is coming off a weekend in which it won three separate matches, including a 17-16 thriller against previously No.14-ranked Lehigh. The wins moved Rutgers to 13-2 on the season, but one of its biggest victories of this season came a little more than a month ago.
Three-time state champion Anthony Ashnault of South Plainfield High School committed to Rutgers in mid-December and is currently in the midst of an undefeated run that started at the beginning of his freshman year.
Coming into this season, the 141-pounder was 130-0 in high school competition and has continued that run with 20 more consecutive victories this season.
"I'm just trying to dominate this year and go out with a bang my final year," Ashnault said.
With such an impressive record, Ashnault had his virtual pick of any college in the country.
But he chose to follow in the footsteps of his brother, former RU wrestler Billy Ashnault, and stay very close to home.
"I've been around the program for a long time with brother having wrestled there and I knew coach Goodale before that because I would always go down to the youth club and worked out down there," Ashnault said. "It made it easier on my part to pick Rutgers. To me it's the best spot and I think it's the best school in the country."
Rutgers' move to the Big Ten also did not hurt matters.
"The Big Ten is the premiere wrestling conference and you always want to go against big time competition," Ashnault said. "So I am pretty fired up that I'm going to be wrestling in the Big Ten, against the best competition."
That factor combined with grabbing a top-flight prospect like Ashnault should only benefit Rutgers' recruiting as the program moves forward.
"There's a lot of factors that go into choosing a school and now being int the Big Ten, that's just another advantage Rutgers has," Ashnault said. "In the future, we'll have better chances against the top notch teams in the country."
Proximity is also an added advantage as is the growing fan base while Rutgers continues to up its attendance with sizable crowds at its home matches.
"I have a big family support group and a big town support group in the community. Going to Rutgers will allow them to hopefully come continue to support me," Ashnault said.