Goodale talks optimism at Rutgers Media Day
In a seldom-used, abandoned classroom on the second floor of the College Avenue Gym, Rutgers head wrestling coach Scott Goodale did something he has never done before. Really, it was something that Rutgers Athletics had never done before.
In front of a dozen or so beat reporters, Goodale addressed the media to preview the Scarlet Knights’ first season in the Big Ten. It was the first Media Day for an Olympic sport in recent Scarlet Knights history and the first wrestling Media Day under Goodale.
By his own admission, this season is something he never would have anticipated when he was the head wrestling coach at Jackson Memorial (New Jersey) High School.
“No, I never thought I would,” Goodale said of coaching Big Ten wrestling. “I make the joke wherever I go to speak, but I was wrestling against Freehold Township, Freehold Boro and Old Bridge eight years ago. But here we are with Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State and Minnesota at home. I never thought this would happen.”
With the coming of the new conference comes big expectations, and those expectations are magnified while wrestling in New Jersey, which some of the most passionate wrestling fans call home.
Grapplers like redshirt freshman Anthony Ashnault and junior Anthony Perrotti have their eyes on the top of the podium, while guys who fell short of their podium aspirations last season want to aim for an All-American spot.
Those expectations remain, and the Knights have to live up to the goals that are set in front of them.
“It’s a day-by-day thing, and it’s a long season. You know, we really are focused a lot on March, to be honest with you,” Perrotti said. “This program is not really judged on dual-meets, although we have a great dual-meet team every single year. It’s just about competing in March, and that’s what it takes to get those recruits and that national recognition. You’ve got to put four or five All-Americans on the podium and score big at Nationals.”
For junior 197-pounder Andrew Campolattano, being able to wrestle again on Jan. 2 against Iowa after sitting out two semesters via transfer policy is something that he has been thinking about since he came to Rutgers last season.
Being unable to compete for a while has left the Bound Brook, New Jersey, native itching to get back on the mat and prove what he can accomplish. It’s just a matter of waiting to compete on what he missed out on.
“It’s not anything personal to any one individual specifically, but I just feel like I haven’t showed up,” Campolattano said. “There’s been a big wrestling party for the past two, three years, and I haven’t been there. I haven’t showed up yet. How I know I can wrestle hasn’t been there. I think I am going to surprise a lot of people, and I am going to meet the expectations I set for myself.”
While all the buzz and excitement surrounds the Rutgers wrestling program since Perrotti became an All-American last March, the West Essex (New Jersey) High School product doesn’t want to feed into the hype of being the first guy to reach the podium since 2002.
Perrotti has his eyes set on working for bigger and better things.
“I guess there is a chip on my shoulder,” Perrotti said. “But I’m just working to be a National Champ every day. I’m putting that All-American season behind me. Now it’s just time to get on top of that podium.”
For updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow @TylerKaralewich and @TargumSports on Twitter.