The AU wrestling program is hosting a new event – the Mid-Atlantic Duals – this Saturday (Jan. 8, 10 a.m.). The Duals will be held in Kates Gymnasium and matches will be held at 10 a.m, noon and 2 p.m. An awards ceremony is slated to begin at approximately 3:45 p.m. The day begins with four matches at noon. There are no predetermined matches after that, after round one everything depends on who wins and who loses.
10 a.m. Matches
ASHLAND vs. Belmont Abbey
Gannon vs. Indianapolis
Seton Hill vs. Adam State
West Liberty vs. East Stroudsburg
Four of the eight teams in the Mid-Atlantic Duals field are ranked in this week's NCAA Division II Top 20. West Liberty shares 15th place in the poll, Adams State is 17th, Ashland is 18th and East Stroudsburg is 19th. AU's first round foe, Belmont Abbey, is listed among, "Others Receiving Votes" and Gannon is in that same group.
"In Pennsylvania, when I coached over there, we had the Pennsylvania State Duals," said AU head coach Tim Dernlan, the originator of the Mid-Atlantic Duals. "All of the top teams in the state got together to see who was the best. This is the same weekend as the National Duals and I wanted something besides that. Some teams are coming here instead of the National Duals. This should be fun. I'm really excited to see Adams State. This is the first time they've come here."
This is the first of three consecutive home Saturday dates for the Eagles. Next Saturday (Jan. 15), AU hosts the 22nd Annual Wendy's Big Classic Duals. That event consists of eight teams. On Jan. 22, the 12th Annual Simonson Open will be hosted by the Eagles.
"The next three weeks is a key time for us to see where we are," said Dernlan, in his third year as AU's head coach. "We had a great first semester. I think the guys have come back fresh. It's exciting to see what we can do. This is the longest break I've ever given a team in the years I've been coaching. I think we needed it. We've looked sharp in practice this week. I think we're starting to mature as a team."
All Revved Up in Indianapolis
Ashland placed fifth out of 21 teams at the Midwest Classic (Dec. 18-19) in Indianapolis. The Eagles had a strong first day there, but faded a bit on the second day. That's the last time the Eagles have wrestled, meaning they've been off the mat for 19 days.
"We did well," said Dernlan, in reviewing the Classic. "We didn't have a full lineup over there. It was great, but humbling on the second day. We kind of got a wakeup call on the second day but we needed that."
Senior Brandon Kelly (Fort Myers, Fla./Newberry) finished second at 174 pounds. At 157, junior Marc Hoff (Liberty Center, Ohio) was fourth. Senior Kyle Kanaga (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) was fifth at 149.
Update on the Eagles
AU will be without senior Tommie Graszl (Mansfield, Ohio/Madison) at 165 pounds this weekend due to injury. Dernlan reports that the Eagles are fighting the injury bug at 141 and 165 pounds…AU's next action in a non-tourney or classic format is Jan. 18 at Gannon. Of AU's next nine competitions, six are at home…AU may be ranked 18th as a team, but individually, the Eagles aren't getting much notice. No Ashland wrestler is ranked nationally. "We don't talk about it," said Dernlan…Ashland is 3-1 in dual meet action. All of those matches came at the Newberry Duals on Dec. 12…listed below is the projected Ashland lineup for the Mid-Atlantic Duals.
125 – Dan Mandara (JR, Canadaigua, N.Y.) – is 7-4 with a pair of pins.
133 – Scott Meyer (JR, Ravenna, Ohio) – brings a 13-7 mark and three pins.
141 – Kyle Kanaga (SR, Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale – Veteran is 13-6.
149 – Dan Genetin (SO, Navarre, Ohio/Massillon Perry) – Owns a 12-6 record.
157 – Mark Hoff (JR, Liberty Center, Ohio) – Fourth at Midwest Classic, is 6-3.
165 – Jake Piatt (FR, Medina, Ohio) – Rookie is 7-6 and takes injured Graszl's spot.
174 – Brandon Kelly (SR, Fort Myers, Fla./Newberry) – Is 7-1 and brings experience.
184 – Ryan Thatcher (SO, Loudonville, Ohio) – Local product is 14-5 with three pins.
197 – Corby Running (FR, Wilmington, Ohio/Clinton Massie) – Freshman is 8-9.
285 – Jacob Southwick (JR, Bowling Green, Ohio/Otsego) – Team leader in wins (15-2) has eight pins.
"We're a team on the verge of making a big jump," said Dernlan. "That might be this Saturday, it might be next Saturday. We're right on the edge. We need one breakout performance and that could be this weekend. That would open up a lot of eyes."
The Scouting Report
AU fans should get a treat with the appearance of Adams State, which comes from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference…"They have great talent. They are very physical wrestlers," said Dernlan of the team from Colorado…Adams State's Josh Hensley is ranked sixth in the country at 149 pounds. He is 9-6. Luke McPeek, who is 10-4, is fourth nationally at 197…Kenny Jordan, who wrestles for Adams State at 141, has an 8-2 record. Jordan is a transfer from Nebraska. He went 15-9 for the Cornhuskers and qualified for the national tournament at 133 pounds. He was 1-1 in the postseason…Adams State defeated Chadron State, 24-20 on Wednesday (Jan. 5)…Belmont Abbey is led by 165-pounder Jake Varilek, who is third in the country. The school is located in Belmont, N.C. Belmont-Abbey has not wrestled since Dec. 4 at the Davidson Open. Belmont Abbey is 3-5…Gannon's Anthony Petrella is second in the country at 174. Petrella is 4-1. Gannon is 1-0 in dual meet action with a victory over Penn State-DuBois…Alex Johns of Indianapolis is seventh in the country at 125 pounds. The Greyhounds are 1-0 in duals…East Stroudsburg is 4-5 and has won three consecutive matches. The Warriors return one national qualifier, redshirt junior Adam Hluschak at 141. Hluschak is 14-11. Sophomore Will Weaver is 15-11 at 285. The Warriors have just two seniors in the lineup…Seton Hill is 2-7. The Griffins haven't wrestled since losing to East Stroudsburg, 25-16 on Dec. 18. Senior Dallas Evans, Seton Hill's 141-pounder, was a national qualifier last year…West Liberty's lineup is anchored by three nationally-ranked wrestlers. Mitch Knapp is third at 197, Seth Phalen is ranked fourth at 157 pounds and J.D. Ramsey is sixth at 285. Knapp is a three-time national qualifier who finished fifth at nationals last spring. The Hilltoppers are 0-1. The setback came to sixth-ranked Pitt-Johnstown, 24-15. At the Midwest Classic, West Liberty finished in a tie for 10th place with Indianapolis. Ashland will wrestle at West Liberty on Feb. 15.
Next Saturday (Jan. 15, 10 a.m.) the Eagles host the 22nd Annual Wendy's Big Classic Duals.