Goodale pulls Ashnault home after stint at Lock?Haven
Chance put Scott Goodale and Sue Ashnault next to each other almost five years ago.
Sure, Goodale knew Sue Ashnault’s son, Billy, from the New Jersey high school wrestling scene, where Goodale coached Jackson Memorial and Ashnault wrestled for South Plainfield. And sure, they spent the previous two days at the Clash National High School Wrestling Duals in McHenry, Ill.
But to this day, Goodale has no idea why an airline upgraded his seat to first class, putting him next to Sue Ashnault for a flight home to New Jersey.
Goodale asked Sue Ashnault where her son would go to college the following year, and she said she had no idea. So Goodale made a call to his alma mater, Lock Haven.
“We’re sitting on the tarmac waiting to leave, and I called up my coach, [Rocky Bonomo], and said there’s a really good kid in Jersey,” Goodale said. “By the time I landed and we were walking to get our bags, he was on a visit to Lock Haven.”
But after two years at Lock Haven and one NCAA Championship berth, it was hardly chance that took Billy Ashnault to Rutgers.
Bonomo, an assistant coach while Goodale was at Lock Haven, resigned as head coach with Lock Haven’s program decline. Goodale and Rutgers — which combined an 11-7 record, two NCAA qualifiers and a top-ranked recruiting class in Goodale’s first season — presented Ashnault with a way out.
“I wanted to leave Lock Haven, contacted Coach Goodale and ended up at Rutgers,” said Ashnault, now a senior. “It couldn’t have been a better choice.”
In addition to the benefits of what was suddenly a winning program, Rutgers’ proximity to Ashnault’s South Plainfield, N.J., home was also a draw.
Ashnault’s family was always close when it came to wrestling, and that continues with Billy at Rutgers and younger brother Anthony at South Plainfield.
The latter enters his junior season with an 86-0 career high school record and a pair of state titles at 103 and 112 pounds. He is the sixth-ranked 126-pounder nationally and a regular visitor in Piscataway. Goodale cannot comment on specific recruits, but do not expect him to send Anthony Ashnault to Lock Haven.
Billy Ashnault says his brother is only focused on wrestling, which Bill Ashnault will do competitively for Rutgers at home for the first time in more than a year Friday against Old Dominion.
He started at 133 pounds in his first year at Rutgers after wrestling at the same weight for two seasons at Lock Haven, and then redshirted last season.
“It’s tough. You don’t get to wrestle in dual meets with your team and it’s all individualized,” Ashnault said. “Basically you just have to work on the things you have to get better on and stay in the game. You can’t really focus on things outside of wrestling, just wrestle every day and get better.”
Ashnault started his redshirt season at 149 pounds, where he went 14-6 before hurting his elbow. He returned to 141 pounds, where he ranks 16th nationally this year, and went 4-0 with a National Collegiate Open championship.
“We realized for him to be successful and for him to learn, he had to win,” Goodale said. “So we brought him back to 141. That’s his weight class.”
Ashnault is 5-2 to start the season, with his only losses coming against Oklahoma’s ninth-ranked Kendric Maple and No. 14 Evan Henderson of North Carolina.
Henderson rode Ashnault for the entire second period Saturday at the Northeast Duals, but Ashnault responded with a pin in the next match against Purdue.
It is part of his mentality that led Goodale to name Ashnault his first team captain in four years at Rutgers — classmate Mike DeMarco now joins Ashnault.
“I’m not afraid to say something or show by example,” Ashnault said. “I just try to do the right things all the time and follow Coach Goodale.”
He began following Goodale five years ago.
Chance put his head coach and mother together for a three-hour flight, but it had nothing to do with Ashnault’s return.
“I think he saw the progress of the program and realized it would be nice to be a part of it and close to home,” Goodale said. “He wanted to be part of a really good team, and that’s why he came back.”