When Tim Dernlan became AU's head wrestling coach, he promised that the Eagles would play dodge ball only in practice as a way to break up the regular routine.
Confused as to what that statement means? Try this. Some wrestling teams spend a lot of time building their record by dodging quality opponents. Dernlan, from the day he was hired, assured Ashland wrestling fans he would not adopt that practice.
This weekend is a perfect example of what Dernlan was talking about. On Sunday (Jan. 6) at the Central Missouri Duals, the Eagles will wrestle Newman and after that, they face the top-ranked team in the nation, Nebraska-Kearney. On Tuesday (Jan. 8), the Eagles will face Fort Hays State, which is ranked 19th in the nation. After that, comes a dual with Ouachita Baptist, ranked 10th. AU will conclude its trip with a bout against the host Mules.
Ashland is ranked 18th in the current national poll, which was released this week. That's a step up two places from the last poll. The Eagles helped their cause by finishing fifth at the rugged Midwest Classic in mid-December.
Freshman Michael Labry (Twinsburg, Ohio), the owner of a 15-0 record, is ranked fourth in the nation at 133 pounds. At 197 pounds, sophomore Joe Brandt (Versailles, Ohio) is ranked third. Brandt opened the year ranked first in country. At the Midwest Classic, Labry won the gold medal and Brandt was third. This is the first time this season Labry has been ranked.
At Central Missour, Labry will see Nebraska-Kearney's Daniel DeShazer, who is ranked sixth in the country. Brandt will square off against two wrestlers ranked in the nation's Top 10 - Tanner Kiss of Fort Hays State (sixth) and Matt Lenagh of Nebraska-Kearney (seventh).
At 184 pounds, sophomore Bryson Hall (Doylestown, Ohio/Chippewa), one of Ashland's top youngsters, will get a look at Dallas Smith of Ouachita Baptist, who is ranked third in the nation. Freshman Zeb Beam (Holmesville, Ohio/Waynedale) looks like he has two difficult assignments at 157 pounds. He should wrestle Fort Hay State's Derek Koehn, who's ranked fourth and Bobby Williams of Ouachita Baptist, who is fifth.
Junior Jacob Garringer (Jamestown, Ohio/Miami Trace) is scheduled to face the nation's top-ranked wrestler at 149 pounds - Nebraska-Kearney's Raufeon Stotts.
Freshman Max Byrd (Milan, Ohio/Edison), wrestling at 125 pounds, will oppose Garrett Evams of Ouachita Baptist, who is ranked eighth. Sophomore Dan McNulty (Highland Heights, Ohio/Mayfield) should see fifth-ranked Josh Myers of Ouachita Baptist and sixth-ranked C.J. Napier of Fort Hays State.
AU is still without two starters. At 285 pounds, redshirt junior Tyler Houska (Wadsworth, Ohio) is still on the mend from a foot injury he suffered during football season. Senior Dan Genetin (Navarre, Ohio/Massillon Perry) is out at 141 pounds.
The current NCAA Division II wrestling poll can be found below.
|4.||St. Cloud State||135||3rd|
|T10.||Ouachita Baptist (Ark.)||77||10th|
|19.||Fort Hays State||22||NR|