This is the time of the year when gifts sit under the Christmas tree and tempt children and adults alike. Young and old, male and female, can be seen shaking and/or twisting and turning that mystery gift in an attempt to get a clue.
Now you can sympathize with AU wrestling coach Tim Dernlan. At the 2012 Midwest Classic in Indianapolis (Dec. 15-16), Dernlan was attempting to find out just what he had with the 2012-13 Eagles. The lineup he sent out on that mat had one senior, one junior, four sophomores and four freshmen. At this highly-regarded tournament the wrapping paper came off and so did the kid gloves.
What Dernlan discovered, along with the rest of the NCAA Division II wrestling world, is that these Eagles have the potential to be good. Very good.
The Eagles had five wrestlers place in Indianapolis. The leader of that contingent was freshman Michael Labry (Twinsburg, Ohio) at 133 pounds. Labry went 4-0 on the weekend, winning all of his matches by decision. In the title bout, he downed Indiana Tech's Travis Barroquillo, 9-5. Labry hasn't been nationally ranked yet, but that honor could be coming soon. The rookie is 15-0 and has three tourney titles this season. Labry was seeded second at the Midwest Classic.
At 197 pounds, sophomore Joe Brandt (Versailles, Ohio) won the bronze medal. Brandt is ranked first in the nation. In the consolation final he stopped McKendree's Julian Smith, 7-2. One reason the Midwest Classic is held in such high regard is its ability to attract some of the nation's best wrestlers year after year. This weight class is a perfect example, the top three wrestlers in the country were in Indianapolis.
Sophomore Bryson Hall (Doylestown, Ohio/Chippewa) finished fourth at 184 pounds. Hall, who was seeded fourth, was 3-2 with a technical fall on the weekend. He lost in the consolation finals to Chad Gibson of Northern State, 11-6.
The field listed 26 teams. The Eagles were fifth with 81 points. The team trophy went to Newberry, ranked fifth in the nation, with 159.5 points. Upper Iowa, ranked fourth in the country, was second (118.0) and eighth-ranked Findlay was third (110.0). Campbellsville finished fourth (84.5).