On Monday, classes for the second semester began at Ashland University and with each class, the professor had a different syllabus.
In college wrestling, the syllabus rarely varies. To be successful you can't be late and you have to go hard from the opening bell to the final whistle.
The 18th-ranked Ashland University Eagles learned that lesson on Tuesday (Jan. 15) at Kates Gymnasium where they fell to Lake Erie, 27-17. This was AU's first match against a GLIAC opponent. It was the second home dual meet of the season (the Eagles lost to Mercyhurst on Nov. 30) and Ashland's first home date since an impressive 4-1 finish at the Central Missouri Duals.
On this night, the Eagles ran into a determined LEC team that's shown rapid improvement over the last several seasons. That spelled trouble for the home team.
"Up and down the lineup, I thought we fought hard and gave a good effort," remarked AU head coach Tim Dernlan, who saw his team dip to 6-3. "We have to get in a little better shape. We've also got to know people are going to come after us because we've done well lately."
This match began at 165 pounds. In college wrestling, the visiting team can request a draw to see where the match begins. This worked perfectly for LEC (8-3). The Storm started the night with 165-pounder Matt Vandermeer, who pinned Randall Perkins (Greenville, Pa.) in 4:20. Vandermeer is ranked third in the country and has won 12 consecutive matches. He was sixth at nationals (165 pounds) a year ago.
"They got to start with their best guy at 65 and end with their second best guy at 57," said Dernlan. "But that didn't cost us the match."
The Eagles were down, 9-0 before getting a win from sophomore Bryson Hall (Doylestown, Ohio/Chippewa) at 184. Hall, who is 17-4, nipped Zev Green (19-9), 3-2.
Lake Erie had a 12-7 lead when the Eagles did everything they could to turn the match's momentum. At 125 pounds, sophomore Max Byrd (Cincinnati, Ohio/La Salle), who's ranked second in the region, pinned Mike November in 2:29. Byrd is 15-3. His pin put Ashland ahead for the first time, 13-12.
Freshman Michael Labry (Twinsburg, Ohio) followed Byrd with a 12-4 major decision at 133 pounds over Austin Gillihan. Labry is ranked fourth in the country and is 21-0. Gillihan is no slouch – he's 17-5 and entering the match, had won 12 of his last 13 matches. He was a national qualifier at 125 pounds a year ago.
"Max did a great job, he shows so much composure," said Dernlan. "He gave up an early takedown and came back. Now he's getting consistent time in the lineup and he's really starting to grow. He feels good with his weight and he's getting more college experience."
Labry's win was the last of the night for the Eagles. His victory put AU ahead, 17-12. LEC went ahead to stay at 141 pounds when Tom McVicker pinned Dan McNulty (Highland Heights, Ohio/Mayfield) in 43 seconds. The Storm closed out the match with a decision and a pin. LEC had three pins.
"It's hard to win when you give up three pins, especially against a team like Lake Erie," admitted Dernlan.
Ashland's next match is no easy touch either. Friday (Jan. 18, 7 p.m.), the Eagles visit 12th-ranked Pitt-Johnstown.
Lake Erie 27, Ashland 17
125 – Max Byrd (AU) pins Mike November (LEC), 2:29 13-12, AU
133 – Michael Labry (AU) maj. dec. Austin Gillihan (LEC), 12-4 17-12, AU
141 – Tom McVicker (LEC) pins Dan McNulty (AU), 0:43 18-17, LEC
149 – Nate Ball (LEC) dec. Jacob Garringer (AU), 7-1 21-17, LEC
157 – Zak Vargo (LEC) pins Mike Hummer (AU), 2:25 27-17, LEC
165 – Matt Vandermeer (LEC) pins Randall Perkins (AU), 4:20 6-0, LEC
174 – Dylan Zivcic (LEC) dec. Jacob Piatt (AU), 6-1 9-0, LEC
184 – Bryson Hall (AU) dec. Zev Green (LEC), 3-2 9-3, LEC
197 – Brandon O'Neil (AU) maj. dec. Devin Smith (LEC), 14-6 9-7, LEC
285 – Almonte Patrick (LEC) dec. Kurt Schaefer (AU), 7-0 12-7, LEC