For the first time this season, the Ashland University wrestling team put out the welcome mat along with the wrestling mat on Saturday (Nov. 19). Saturday's 17th Annual Harris Open was the first of nine home events for the Eagles this season. What AU fans witnessed at the home opener should entice them to come back for more.
Ashland had one champion and seven place-winners at the Harris Open. The championship was won by senior Dan Mandara (Canandaigua, N.Y.) at 133 pounds. Mandara, who the regional runner-up a year ago, was a 5-3 winner over Clarion's Johnnie Matacic in the title bout. Mandara is ranked seventh in the country.
"The guys wrestled well," said Dernlan. "It was nice to see a championship by Dan Mandara. We had a couple of wins against Findlay, Brandon Davis got one and finished fifth at 125 and at 197, Joe Brandt did a great job and finished fifth. It's always good to beat the guys in orange and black.
"The guys wrestled better," continued Dernlan. "They worked on a couple of things we talked about for controlling a match. But there's a lot of room for improvement. We're not near where we need to be."
Davis (Greensboro, N.C./Page), a senior who is ranked seventh in the country, wrapped up fifth place with a 5-2 decision against UF's Ben Sergent. Sergent is ranked fifth in the nation. At 197, Brandt (Versailles, Ohio), a true freshman, claimed fifth place with a 6-2 triumph over Findlay's Ashton Brown.
As for the other five placers, that list included both veterans and newcomers. Junior Jacob Garringer (Jamestown, Ohio/Miami Trace) was fifth at 141. At 149, freshman Lucas Cummins (Mavengo, Ohio/Cardington), finished fourth. Senior Tommie Graszl (Mansfield, Ohio/Madison) was fourth at 157. At 184 pounds, sophomore Jonathon Beam (Holmesville, Ohio/Waynedale) was sixth.
The Harris Open attracted just over 180 wrestlers. Wrestlers came from far and away for this, the schools that were represented included Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Kent State, Notre Dame College, Edinboro, Indianapolis, Michigan State and Indiana.
The Eagles are ranked 10th in the nation. This is AU's only home appearance until a Jan. 6 dual meet with Gannon. The Eagles are back in action on Dec. 3, when they will wrestle at the Ohio Northern Invitational.