NEW YORK -- Anthony Ashnault reached new heights as a redshirt sophomore, but his dream of becoming a national champion will have to wait until next year.

Ashnault, the No. 4 seed at 141 pounds, was defeated by No. 1 seed Dean Heil of Oklahoma State, 8-3, during the NCAA semifinals on Friday night inside a sold-out Madison Square Garden.

Heil scored with a takedown 1:01 into the bout and never looked back, adding one takedown each in the second and third periods while accruing 1:03 of riding time for an additional bonus point. Ashnault was in with a single-leg takedown attempt twice, but Heil was able to fight it off on each occasion.

"He was a little bit more stingy where when we got to his legs he made it really hard for us, and when he got to ours it was an easy takedown," said Rutgers head coach Scott Goodale. "Give that kid credit, that's where he's good. He makes it very difficult on you to score points, that's what he's been ranked No. 1 all year long."

Ashnault can still finish third, which would tie him for the highest finish by a Rutgers wrestler at the NCAA Championships. He will wrestle Virginia Tech's Solomon Chisko in the wrestleback semifinals on Saturday morning. Rutgers' highest finisher ever was Mike Leta, who took third at 130 pounds in 1960.

"Anthony's got to bounce back," Goodale said. "He's had a great tournament and I know this isn't what he wanted, but then again there is our expectations for him. We don't want to slide. Let's get a third out of this."

"He's a tough kid and knows there's a lot at stake for him personally. He doesn't want to end this on a loss. He wants to finish it the right way, and he didn't get that opportunity last year. I know where his mind's at right now. He's upset, but he'll sleep on it and he'll get up and be Anthony Ashnault again in the morning."

 

Wrestling editor Bob Badders can be reached at badders@allshoremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.