Podium spot relinquishes pressure moving forward
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — When sophomore Anthony Perrotti’s hand was raised, he jumped into the arms of one man that made his spot at the podium possible.
After the 157-pounder ran off the mat to celebrate becoming an All-American with his teammates, where did the man who caught him go?
Head coach Scott Goodale went to have a moment to himself Saturday behind the curtains of the empty medical tent on the event level of the Chesapeake Energy Arena to reflect.
As thoughts were racing through his head, he broke down in pure exhilaration at having his first All-American since becoming the Rutgers wrestling team’s head coach in 2007.
The hard-nosed former wrestler, who had left the arena the day before full of disappointment at having only two grapplers advance, was suddenly none of those things.
With tears of joy streaming down his face, Goodale was happy for Perrotti for sticking to the game plan and succeeding.
Although the regular season was not how Perrotti would have liked to finish, Goodale put into perspective how he accomplished becoming an All-American.
“He’s a program-type kid and a he’s a gamer. He ain’t the best wrestler in the world. He’s not even the best wrestler on our team, not even close,” Goodale said. “But he is a gamer and he is a fighter. He believes he can beat anybody. So [Perrotti becoming an All-American] is awesome.”
Apart from the initial joy of having Perrotti named an All-American, a heavy burden was lifted from Goodale’s shoulders.
Not having someone on the podium in seven seasons may have deterred many potential recruits from attending Rutgers.
That same sentiment also prompted fanatics in New Jersey to not only criticize Goodale, but also the Knights’ program.
The first All-American since 2002 does more than quench any one individual’s dreams. It helps save the program in a way, Goodale said.
“There’s a lot of people that doubted what we were doing. New Jersey is a tough state to wrestle in. There’s a lot of criticism and there [are] a lot of expectations,” Goodale said. “That’s all good stuff and hopefully we get some people off our back. It’s good for Rutgers wrestling and Anthony Perrotti.”
Assistant coach Frank Molinaro continued the same thoughts.
Molinaro was a four-time All-American and a National Champion. He also knows what it is like to win as a team, being a part of two overall team National Championships at Penn State.
“It was a great day for the program. Anthony becoming an All-American takes a lot of pressure off everybody,” Molinaro said. “The biggest thing that we can take away from it is that it just goes to show that hard work and discipline, and doing the right things, will get you to where you want to go. We’re proud of him and he has taken the pressure off of the program single-handedly.”
Perrotti was not caught up in being the first All-American since 2002 for Rutgers.
He credited the program for preparing him.
“It’s not a surprise to me really. [Bringing an All-American back to Rutgers] was bound to happen anyway,” Perrotti said. “We train hard, just as hard as every other program.”