AU wrestling begins quest for another successful season



AU redshirt-junior Bret Romanzak holds down an opponent at home in an early dual meet against Lourdes University on November 8.

Paul Murray, Reporter

The Ashland University wrestling team has started their season off strong with a dual meet win and a couple of strong performances in tournaments.

Most recently, the Eagles competed in the Ohio Intercollegiates tournament on Sunday, Nov. 11. The program had five wrestlers that recorded top five finishes at the tournament.

A few of those top performances came by the way of redshirt-junior Bret Romanzak, placing third overall in the 165-pound weight division, and redshirt-sophomore Tristen Weirich, placing fourth in the 285-pound weight division. Both of these wrestlers competed in the gold division which was the toughest division at the tournament.

Nine days before that the Eagles opened the season with a victory on Nov. 2 at the Kent State Duals. The Eagles outscored the Golden Flashes by a score of 21-14, thanks to six straight individual victories from Eagle wrestlers

“This first dual allowed our young guys to get punched in the mouth, get tested early, and show what they got,” AU head coach Josh Hutchens said.

Freshman Luke Wymer (133 pounds), junior Chandler Minnard (141), sophomore Carson Speelman (149), sophomore Chance Esmont (157), Romanzak (165), and junior Christian Price (174) all won their matches.

This start is exactly what Hutchens was looking for.

“Last year was great, we had a great season and had a lot of success,” Hutchens said. “But a lot of talented seniors from last season have moved on, and we have a couple of big holes to fill.”

Last season, the Eagles finished fifth as a team at the Division II National Championships and they currently come into this season ranked 13th in the NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches Association Top 25 preseason poll.

Although the team has had great success under Hutchens, the team still feels they have much more to prove.

The AU wrestling program added 10 new freshman in this year’s recruiting class but they lost two wrestlers who had a huge impact on the program in their time as Eagles.

Graduating as seniors last season were Jordan Murphy (184 pounds) who finished third at nationals last year and Luke Cramer who won the national championship in the 197-pound weight class.

“We try not to think about last season, although we did great, we knew we could have done better,” Hutchens said. “Just like most programs want to be at the top, the same can be said for ours. We want to win a team national championship, that is the ultimate goal.”

The Eagles already have one national champion on their current roster in Romanzak who won the national championship with his teammate Cramer in 2018 in his particular weight class of 165 pounds.

He comes into this season ranked No. 1 in his weight class and is looking to repeat the same success he had in the 2017-2018 season.

“The main focus for this year, both for myself and the team, is taking advantage of every opportunity we’re given,” Romanzak said. “We are a young, inexperienced team overall and will look to grow each and every day. My goal is to keep that focus on improvement and repeat as a national champion.”

Romanzak and Hutchens don’t plan on altering their game plan at all. Their mantra of working hard and focusing on getting better is all they are concerned about.

“Bret comes into this season with the same mentality that he had in the last seasons, that you have to earn it” Hutchens said. “He has a great mental attitude, always focused on improvement, and willing to battle everyday.”

The Eagles next match will come on Saturday (Nov. 17) at the Findlay Open in Findlay, Oh. This match will start a six match road stretch that will carry on through December and into the new year.

The Eagles will not be back home at Kates Gymnasium until Jan. 12 against Notre Dame College. They will have their last two home dual meets of the 2018-2019 season in January as well as they host Urbana (Jan. 23) and Findlay (Jan. 26).