Battle at the Birthplace – Outdoor NCAA wrestling: Rutgers vs Princeton
Frankie Edgar, Tyron Woodley, and Chris Weidman stormed Madison Square Garden this past weekend at UFC 205. Before stepping into the octagon these warriors developed their skills competing in NCAA wrestling.
This Saturday, Rutgers will take on Princeton at Battle at the Birthplace, an outdoor wrestling match held at High Point Solutions Stadium. The match will take place at 11 AM before the RU football team takes the field to play Penn State on Saturday November 19th. NCAA wrestling continues to grow in popularity and teams are finding innovative ways to promote matches. University of Iowa pioneered the outdoor stadium match last November against, then, top ranked Oklahoma State. The match at Kinnick stadium shattered the attendance record for an NCAA wrestling match drawing 42,287 fans.
“We will always try to push the envelope and create an atmosphere that is special”, said Rutgers head coach Scott Goodale. “This event provides not only Rutgers fans but the great fans of New Jersey to see two programs with talented wrestlers compete”.
Rutgers comes in ranked #10 by USA today. Princeton is just outside the top 25 with 6 individual wrestlers ranked nationally including All American Brett Harner. “I’m excited for our fans to show that New Jersey has among the strongest, if not the strongest wrestling in the country”, said Princeton coach Chris Ayers. “We want to be involved in a large event and you have to showcase the sport.”
In addition to being a huge showcase for NJ wrestling and all the talent and grit that comes with it, this match amps up the atmosphere with the unpredictable November weather. Although the forecast is showing 60 degrees right now we all know weathermen can be wrong, but Coach Goodale does not seem concerned about facing the elements, “I’d like to think when the lights come on and 2 guys put their foot on the line its forget the weather and what it feels like. It’s going to be about trying to score points and win matches.”
In the featured match of the night Rutgers 2 X All American Anthony Ashnault, ranked 3rd in the nation, will take on 11th ranked, Matt Kolodzik. The two split their matches at the prestigious Midlands Championships last season each coming away with a win. “He’s a great opponent and I’m looking forward to competing against him but at the end of the day I’m looking to go out and get my hand raised”, says Ashnault who spends time training with Frankie Edgar, and is coming off a win over national finalist, Bryce Meredeth, at the All Star Classic to open the season. “For me it’s training to be a national champ at the end of the year.”
This will be a great event for the wrestling fans of NJ. “The crowd will show how passionate NJ fans are about our sport”, said season ticket holder Eric Wnuck who wrestled at RU in the late 90s. Over 14,000 tickets have already been sold for the event. Tickets can be purchased the day of the event or by calling 1-866-GORU.