AU Matman Off to Strong Start at Regional

            So much for the theory about the Ashland University wrestling team being great as a dual meet team but flawed when it comes to wrestling in a crowd. Of course, when you are able to separate yourself from the crowd, that problem disappears.

            Friday (Feb. 25) at Findlay on the first day of action at the Super Region 2 Wrestling Championships, the Eagles saw eight of 10 wrestlers stay in the winner's bracket.  AU finished the first day in second place in a 13-team field.  Nebraska-Omaha, the nation's top-ranked team, leads the team standings with 80 points. Ashland is second with 63 points and Central Oklahoma is third with 50.5 points.  Limestone is in fourth place with 33 points.

            The Eagles are ranked 12th in the country. The fact that they are in front of fifth-ranked Central Oklahoma should open some eyes around the country. AU head coach Tim Dernlan could not have asked for a better start to this regional weekend.

            One of the most impressive performances of the day belonged to freshman Corby Running (Wilmington, Ohio/Clinton Massie) at 197 pounds.  Running won his only bout of the day, 5-1 over Jarrett Edison of Central Oklahoma. Edison is ranked second in the region and fifth in the nation. Running, who is 14-17, is ranked seventh in the region.

            At 285, junior Jacob Southwick (Bowling Green, Ohio/Otsego) tied the school single-season record for pins.  Southwick got his 17th pin of the season in his first match, stopping Kyle Sparr of Belmont-Abbey in 2:10.  Southwick ties the record of Josh Hendricks, who had 17 pins twice in his career.

            Southwick's second bout of the day was a 6-2 triumph over Findlay's Andrew Tumlin.  That victory put Southwick's record at 31-2.  Hendricks had two 30-win seasons at AU, winning 31 and 32 matches.  The school record for wins is 37, shared by Jeff Freedman (1978-79) and Reggie Johnson (1980-81).

            AU got a technical fall at 125 from junior Dan Mandara (Canadaigua, N.Y.), who stopped Richard Williams of King College, 16-0 (6:25).  Junior Scott Meyer (Ravenna, Ohio) went 2-0 at 133, as did senior Kyle Kanaga (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) at 141.  Kanaga's second win of the day was a pin in 1:56 of Tiffin's David Bolger. Meyer is 22-11 and Kanaga is 24-9.

            At 149, sophomore Dan Genetin (Navarre, Ohio/Massillon Perry) was 2-0 with a pin.  Senior Brandon Kelley (Fort Myers, Fla./Newberry) went 2-0 at 165 and sophomore Ryan Thatcher (Loudonville, Ohio) won his only match at 174.

            The regional tournament will conclude on Saturday. The top four placers in each weight class will move on to the national championships, which will be held Mar. 11-12 at Nebraska-Kearney.