As an undefeated wrestler and a defending state champion this winter, expectations for the sophomore phenom rose even more.
But expectations mean little when you ignore them.
“I don’t really feel pressure,” Ashnault said. “I have my goals, and I don’t really listen to what other people think, other than my coaches and my family. I just think about every match as another match.”
That philosophy led South Plainfield’s 112-pounder to a second consecutive undefeated season (42-0, 86-0 career) and his second straight state tournament championship.
Ashnault, who won the state title at 103 in 2010, this winter collected his second Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, District 12 and Region 3 titles, in addition to putting together an impressive resume against national competition at the Virginia Duals in January.
“The grind of five matches in two days (in Virginia) is just like what happens when you get down the road in districts, regions and states,” said Ashnault, who collected bonus points in all but three matches this season. “It’s against the top-notch kids in the nation, and prepares you for the rest of the season.”