Michael Labry, a 133-pound redshirt senior, won his 128th collegiate match on Sunday (Dec. 2), breaking Ashland University wrestling's all-time record.
For most, that would be the top achievement of a lifetime. For Labry, that accolade blends right in with his Twinsburg High School-record 152 wins and high school Division I state runner-up finish, three top-four finishes at the NCAA Division II national championships, a 2015 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Wrestler of the Year award and two Super Region Two Wrestler of the Year awards.
"You can't expect any of this," said Labry, one of AU wrestling's 13 three-time All-Americans who is shooting to become the program's fourth four-time All-American in March. "As you go, you just start to realize what you're accomplishing."
Labry, who took a redshirt during the 2015-16 season, only lost 19 of 171 matches in high school and, so far, only 12 of 140 in college.
"He got recruited by a lot of Division I colleges," Eagles head coach Josh Hutchens said. "So he's been good and been expected to be good for a long time. He's got that hardline mentality, where when he steps on the mat, he's going to do everything he can to win. He won't give up."
In each of his first three active seasons at Ashland, Labry has moved one step closer to becoming the fifth national champion in program history. He placed second at regionals and fourth at nationals as a freshman, first at regionals and third at nationals as a sophomore and first at regionals and second at nationals as a junior.
"Once I placed at nationals," Labry said, "the focus has been getting to the top of the podium. After making the finals, there is really nothing else left to do but win it. Anything else would be kind of a disappointment."
According to D2Wrestle.com, Labry is No. 1 regionally at his weight and was No. 2 nationally in the preseason rankings.
"Everyone has a ceiling of how good you can get," Hutchens said. "And his is pretty high. He's been at that national-champion level, and I think he looks better this year than he did last year. Winning nationals is very realistic."
"Once you get to nationals," Labry said, "you're all going to be pretty evenly-matched. At that point, it comes down to training and how hard you've been working at practice. Hopefully that will put me over the top when I need it."
Labry's record is 16-1 this season, with eight of his wins coming against D-I competition. He earned first-place at the Ohio Intercollegiates on Nov. 13 and at the Findlay Open on Nov. 19.
"It has been a privilege to work with him," Hutchens said. "I've really enjoyed being a long for the ride and watching him reach these levels of greatness. When you add the technique, natural ability and talent all together in one package, I would say he's the best (that I've ever coached)."