The Ashland University wrestling team, ranked 11th in the country, took six wrestlers to the 2011 national championship meet at Nebraska-Kearney. Three of those grapplers have advanced to the second day of the championships.
Now the bad news. No one in an AU singlet is without a loss. On Friday (Mar. 11) on the opening day of the event, three Ashland wrestlers went 0-2 and were eliminated. Three others went 1-1 and will be back in action on Saturday. There is no margin of error for anyone in that trio.
The AU survivors are senior Kyle Kanaga (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) at 141 pounds, senior Brandon Kelly (Fort Myers, Fla./Newberry) at 165 and junior Jacob Southwick (Bowling Green, Ohio/Otsego) at 285.
Kanaga lost his first match by decision, losing to Gannon's Andrew Milanak, 2-1. He bounced back to capture a 6-5 win over Brady Schneeberger of Minnesota-Moorhead. Schneeberger entered the tourney ranked seventh in the country.
Kelly, the owner of an 18-4 record and ranked seventh in the nation, got off to a good start with a 6-1 decision over Ronald Tetreault of American International. However, Kelly ran into trouble in the next round. He dropped a 5-3 verdict to Nebraska-Kearney's Joey Wilson. Wilson started the day with a 34-8 mark. He is ranked sixth in the nation.
All year, Southwick has lived by the pin (he has a school record 18). On Friday, he saw the tables turned as he was pinned in 3:24 in his second match of the day. Matthew Meuleners of Northern State was the wrestler who put Southwick on his back. Meuleners is no slouch, he's ranked second in the country and he is 26-3.
Southwick opened the tournament with a 3-1 decision over Chadron State's Sam Udell.
Three AU wrestlers - junior Dan Mandara (Canadaigua, N.Y.) at 125 pounds, sophomore Dan Genetin (Navarre, Ohio/Massillon Perry) and sophomore Ryan Thatcher (Loudonville, Ohio) all saw their season end Friday. Mandara and Thatcher were first-time entrants at nationals. This was Genetin's second consecutive trip.
Mandara was pinned by Gerald Huff of Adams State in 2:01 and then lost, 7-2 to Gannon's Jose Matos. Matos is ranked fourth in the country and is 27-7. Mandara is 19-8.
Genetin's day began with a 4-2 setback courtesy of Kenny Jordan of Adams State. In his second bout, he lost to St. Cloud State's Jacob Horn, 8-6. St. Cloud State is ranked second in the country and Horn is ranked fifth at 149. He started the day with a 26-10 record. Genetin is 24-13.
Thatcher lost his opener to Grand Canyon's Victor Carazo, 4-1. In his second match, he was pinned in 3:53 by Newberry's Josh Whitelook Carazo is ranked second in the nation. Thatcher finishes the season with a 25-12 mark.
Top-ranked Nebraska-Omaha leads the team standings with 57.5 points. UNO is in search of a third consecutive national title. Augustana (54.5) is second and St. Cloud State (47) sits in third place. Ashland has 10 points and is tied for 20th place.