Coach Goodale seeks program-tying 166th win against Hofstra
On Tuesday night, Rutgers wrestling head coach Scott Goodale was at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) to witness women's basketball history. Women’s basketball head coach C. Vivian Stringer earned her 1,000th career victory with a blowout win over Central Connecticut State.
“It was awesome. I’ve seen a lot of really cool sporting events. It’s just special to be in the same department as her for the last 12 years,” Goodale said. “How you can be that consistent over that period of time is amazing to me, and she's still so passionate and hungry, I was so happy that I was able to see it.”
Currently, Goodale is just two wins shy of his own milestone, becoming the winningest coach in the No. 23 Scarlet Knights' (4-1) wrestling history.
In just his 12th season on the Banks, Goodale has compiled a 165-63-1 record. His predecessor, John Sacchi, the coach from 1990 to 2007, was 167-102-5 in his 17 seasons at the helm.
In five seasons fewer that Sacchi, Goodale will surpass his coaching record this season. He has coached eight All-Americans during his tenure.
Last season, he coached in a national championship match thanks to No. 2 junior 133-pounder Nick Suriano, who wrestled at 125-pounds in 2017.
On the current Rutgers team, 26 out of the 30 wrestlers on the roster are from New Jersey.
“That’s what you strive for,” Goodale said. “We wanted to make wrestling not only relevant on this campus but around the state of New Jersey. This is exactly what we wanted to have happen, to wrestle huge matches at the RAC, to win big matches at the RAC, and then of course to have All-Americans and national champs.”
Before the sold out matches at the RAC, the Knights used to wrestle their matches at the College Avenue Gymnasium, also known as “the barn.”
The RAC has been the program's permanent home since Rutgers' second season as a member of the Big Ten conference, in 2015. The team's first half of the 2014 season featured matches at the College Avenue Gymnasium, before switching to the RAC for the latter half of that season.
“I remember when there was 22 people in the stands watching us at the College Ave Gym,” Goodale said. “This program has come such a long way from those days. This season we’re on pace to sell over 3,000 season tickets. New Jersey has such a knowledgeable, passionate fan base.”
Of course, recruiting has been a major factor in the rise of the program. After nabbing four-time and undefeated New Jersey state champion No. 2 graduate student 149-pounder Anthony Ashnault, who is looking to secure his fourth All-American season for the Knights, the blue chip recruits started to follow.
Luckily for Rutgers, some of the best recruits in the country are New Jersey natives. New Jersey high school wrestling consistently churns out some of the top recruits each and every year.
“He’s a big reason why I came to Rutgers,” Ashnault said, “I believed in his vision that he had for the program, he’s the energy, the life, the heartbeat of what we stand for, and he’s behind it.”
After Ashnault, the Knights secured one of the best wrestlers in the country as Suriano transferred from Penn State to Rutgers after his freshman season.
Most recently, the No. 1 141-pounder in the country, Jo Jo Aragona has committed to wrestle on the Banks. It is the Knights' first ever No. 1 ranked commit in their weight class.
“Our coaching staff does a great job recruiting,” Goodale said. “Joe Pollard, Donny Pritzlaff and Joe Leonardis are always traveling to the national tournaments, recruiting all the best kids in the country. Recruiting never ends.”
One of those Jersey boys is graduate student 165-pounder John Van Brill, who mentioned how Goodale is the reason Rutgers wrestling has risen to the relevance it has.
“He’s really built this program from the ground up. It’s his baby,” Van Brill said. “I’m really excited to see where he takes it from here, what kind of guys he continues to bring in. He’s a players coach.”
Goodale also constantly comes up with exciting venues for the team to wrestle at. They have wrestled at HighPoint.com Stadium twice under his tenure, drawing a large crowd in each event.
Last season, the team was supposed to have a match at Yankee Stadium, but because of a Yankees postseason run, the match had to be moved.
“I want Rutgers wrestling to be the most important thing on the campus," Goodale said. "And if that means providing exciting places for our guys to wrestle, I'm all for it.”
The Knights have a dual meet on Friday night against Hofstra, where he could tie the record with a win.
Their next dual meet is at home on Dec. 16 against Rider, a match he can potentially become the winningest coach in Rutgers wrestling history, if the team defeats the Pride this weekend.
When asked if he would celebrate the accomplishment in the same fashion as Stringer with confetti, Goodale laughed.
“No, no, I don’t need the confetti. I don’t want to compare myself to C. Viv, no way," Goodale said. "Just a handshake and that will be good for me.”
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