Eagle Wrestlers Gear Up For Midwest Classic

Eagle Wrestlers Gear Up For Midwest Classic

It's a measuring stick.

Those are the words used by Ashland University head wrestling coach Josh Hutchens on this weekend's (Dec. 19-20) Midwest Classic in Indianapolis, Ind.

The 19th-ranked Eagles go into the Midwest Classic with high hopes of placing well, as some of the nation's top NCAA Division II talent will be on display.

"It's a tougher tournament than it has been in a long time," said Hutchens. "A couple new teams have come in, but we can't worry about who your competition is. We are more focused on how we perform."

The Eagles look to shake off a tough loss to seventh-ranked Pitt-Johnstown on Dec. 10.

At 184 pounds, junior Brandon O'Neill sits seventh in the country and goes into the tournament with past success. O'Neill finished third at the Midwest Classic in 2014 and was 6-1 in the tournament. A repeat of a season ago won't come easy though, as O'Neill will see three of the top eight wrestlers in the country at 184, including Pitt-Johnstown's Travis McKillop, who pinned O'Neill on Dec. 10.

This weekend also will mark the debut for AU wrestlers Jordan Murphy (174) and Nigel Cross (285). Both have competed in open tournaments so far this season and done well. Murphy comes in with a record of 7-3, and Cross is 3-1.

Eagle senior and top-ranked 197-pound wrestler Joe Brandt has been scratched from this weekend's lineup due to illness.

In a battle at 133, Chandler Minnard will get the nod this weeked. Minnard stands at 3-2 on the season, and is sharing time with freshman Jerry Fenner III. Sophomore Trae Coopwood also will see some time at that weight.

Filling out the remaining lineup at Indy will be freshman Sebastian Vidika (125), junior Bobby Mason (141), junior Brent Fickel (149), senior Zeb Beam (157) and freshman Chritian Price (165).

Day 1 of the Midwest Classic will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday (Dec. 19).