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An Historic Night in Pittsburgh
FOR the first time in program history, Rutgers wrestling has individual national champions, as both Nick Suriano (133) and Anthony Ashnault secured titles at the 2019 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on March 23 in Pittsburgh. The two championships helped the Scarlet Knights finish ninth with 51.5 team points, marking the first ever top-10 team finish at the national tournament. RU was one of just two programs to have multiple individual champions this season, as head coach Scott Goodale was named the Division I National Tournament Coach of the Year.
The wins marked the first individual NCAA championship for Rutgers Athletics since Alexis Jemal captured the women’s sabre title in fencing in 2003. Their championships were also the first for a male student-athlete at Rutgers since Elliott Quow won the outdoor 200m for track & field in 1983.
Suriano downed No. 1 seed Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) in a wild overtime match to claim the 133-pound title, while Ashnault defeated No. 2 seed Micah Jordan (Ohio State) to earn the 149-pound individual crown. Suriano rallied for a 4-2 triumph in the second sudden-victory period. Ashnault earned a 9-4 win to complete an undefeated season.
Suriano took the mat first for Rutgers, and once again battled in a low-scoring matchup against Fix. After a scoreless first period, both registered escapes in the following two periods to force overtime. No scoring occurred in the first sudden victory, and Suriano was hit for a stall point in the first rideout to hand Fix a 2-1 lead. Suriano then escaped in the closing moments of the second tiebreaker to force a second sudden victory, where he earned the clinching takedown for the 4-2 final.The win over Fix completed a revenge tour of sorts for Suriano, who avenged all three of his regular-season losses during the postseason. Suriano downed Austin DeSanto (Iowa) at the Big Ten Conference Championships earlier this month and defeated Stephan Micic (Michigan) and Fix this weekend en route to his title.
For the third time this season, Ashnault faced Jordan, as his foe took an early 1-0 lead after the first period when Ashnault was hit with hands to the face. But Ashnault was never deterred. The four-time All-American landed a takedown at the 1:43 mark in the second period and rode out Jordan heading into period three. Ashnault then hit a four-point move on a takedown and two near fall, and tacked on the riding time for the 9-4 final.
Nick Suriano: “I am blessed. It’s an honor to bring history to Rutgers where it belongs. It’s an honor and a blessing. I heard Goodale yell, and it made me so happy, man. Honestly, when I heard Coach Goodale yell and cheer me on, it was a dream.”
Anthony Ashnault: “It’s everything that I’ve worked for up to this point, I try not to idolize wrestling, but a big part of my life was focused on getting a national title.”
Scott Goodale: “What an unbelievable accomplishment for both Nick and Anthony as well as this program. “Those two showed that titles can be won right here at Rutgers. This state produces some of the top talent in the country, and tonight solidifies those guys can succeed without going too far from home.”
Pat Hobbs: “This is an historic night for Rutgers University, I cannot be happier for Nick and Anthony. It’s a tremendous accomplishment. We’re going to keep this going and keep building. Tonight, we started to show people where Rutgers is going to be moving forward.”
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