Ashland University wrestling coach Tim Dernlan lamented his team's ability to wrestle on the edge on Friday night (Nov. 30).
Dernlan probably has a point there, but here's one thing he didn't take into consideration. His young team, which made its 2012 home debut Friday night against Mercyhurst, knows how to keep a crowd on the edge of its seats.
After the bout at 157 pounds, the Eagles trailed the Lakers, 16-3. After that, AU won four of the next five weight classes, one by pin and one by major decision. After the battle at 285 pounds, the match was deadlocked, 19-19.
The Lakers won the match on the third criteria, total match points (41-32). The first criteria was wins and both teams had five. The next criteria is pins and each team had one. No verdict could be declared until the totals were in the books on the third criteria.
"I was happy with the way our upper weights wrestled," said Dernlan. "They didn't get down, they stayed focused on their matches. That's what we talk about. We let a lot of the light weights get away from us. We didn't wrestle well on the edge. They wrestled smarter on the edge. That's something we don't teach, but we have to get tougher on the edge."
No doubt Dernlan and the rest of his staff were on edge after those first five bouts. Ashland's only win in that string came at 133 pounds where red-hot freshman Michael Labry (Twinsburg, Ohio) clipped freshman Dylan D'Urso, 4-3. The 'Hurst rookie came into the match with an 8-0 record and two tournament championships this season. The win gives Labry a 10-0 record.
"Michael wrestled smart," observed Dernlan.
The Ashland resurgence started at 165 pounds where junior Jake Piatt (Medina, Ohio) was a 3-1 winner over Clint Schaefer. Piatt handed Schaefer his first loss of the year. Schaefer is 8-1 with a pair of tourney titles. Piatt is 6-4.
At 174 freshman Brandon O'Neil (Ashland, Ohio/Clear Fork) continued his strong early season run with a 6-5 win over Grant Chase. That was one of three matches decided by one point on the night. The Eagles won two of those close calls.
Dernlan always preaches about bonus point and at 184 pounds, sophomore Bryson Hall (Doylestown, Ohio/Chippewa) delivered some. Hall got his fourth pin of the year, stopping Eric Lundgren at 3:24. Hall shares the team lead in pins with O'Neil.
Hall's pin got the Eagles to within a point of the Lakers, 16-15. AU got more extra points at 197 pounds where sophomore Joe Brandt (Versailles, Ohio), ranked first in the country, picked up a major decision over Tyler Landfried.
"He wrestled as well as I've seen him in a while," said Dernlan of Brandt. "He didn't let the guy slow him down."
That Brandt win gave the Eagles a 19-16 spread going into the bout at 285 pounds. Sophomore Kurt Schaefer (West Salem, Ohio/Northwestern), who normally wrestles at 184 pounds, lost a 5-1 decision to Jeff Pollard.
"Kurt fought hard, really hard," said Dernlan. "He fought harder at heavyweight than he did at 184."
Mercyhurst 19, Ashland 19
(Mercyhurst wins on criteria, total match points, 41-32)
125 – Willie Bohince (MU) maj. dec. Max Byrd (AU), 15-2 4-0, MU
133 – Michael Labry (AU) dec. Dylan D'Urso (MU), 4-3 4-3, MU
141 – Joey Miller (MU) dec. Jake Garringer (AU), 7-2 7-3, MU
149 – Michael Griffith (MU) pins Bobby Mason (AU), 2:51 13-3, MU
157 – Tyler Berger (MU) dec. Zeb Beam (AU), 3-2 16-3, MU
165 – Jake Piatt (AU) dec. Clint Schaefer (MU), 3-1 16-6, MU
174 – Brandon O'Neil (AU) dec. Grant Chase (MU), 6-5 16-9, MU
184 – Bryson Hall (AU) pins Eric Lundgren (MU), 3:24 16-15, MU
197 – Joe Brandt (AU) maj. dec. Tyler Landfried (MU), 12-2 19-16, AU
285 – Jeff Pollard (MU) dec. Kurt Schaefer (AU), 5-1 19-19