On Saturday, maybe the groundhog will see his shadow. On Friday (Feb. 1) when the wrestling teams from Ashland and Findlay clash, no one will be emerging from the shadows.
This is the kind of match that attracts bright lights and attention. Ashland is ranked 19th in the nation and the Oilers are ranked seventh. Both teams have nationally-ranked wrestlers in the lineup.
A year ago, Findlay won the GLIAC championship and AU was second. This match with Findlay kicks off a rugged stretch for the Eagles. After Findlay, the Eagles wrestle at Tiffin on Saturday (Feb. 2, 6 p.m.) and come home to host Notre Dame the following Friday (Feb. 8, 7 p.m.). Notre Dame is ranked second in the country, trailing only St. Cloud State.
One of the most interesting matchups this Friday will come at 125 pounds. AU freshman Max Byrd (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) is 19-3 with a team-high eight pins. Byrd is ranked seventh in the nation. Findlay's Ben Sergent is ranked sixth. The winner of this bout will have a leg up on securing the No. 1 seed for the regional tournament, which will be held Feb. 23-24, in Ashland. These two have never met.
At 133 pounds, AU freshman Michael Labry (Twinsburg, Ohio) is ranked fourth in the country. Labry brings a 26-0 record into Friday's fray.
Byrd is seventh in the nation in this week's Most Dominant Wrestler standings (4.111). Labry is eighth (4.1053). Byrd is also fourth in the country in pins. The national leader in the Most Dominant Wrestler rankings is Carl Broghammer of Upper Iowa (5.000).
At 285 pounds, AU redshirt junior Tyler Houska (Wadsworth, Ohio/Highland) has spent the last two weeks working himself into wrestling shape after suffering a foot injury at the end of football season. Houska was 3-0 at the Wendy's Mid-Atlantic Duals and is 4-1. He figures to get one of his biggest tests of the regular season at UF where he will be matched against Andrew Tumlin, who's ranked seventh in the country.
Sophomore Joe Brandt (Versailles, Ohio) is 25-2 with 51 takedowns (second on the team) and five pins at 197 pounds. He's ranked third in the nation.
Findlay's Adam Walters is ranked second in the nation at 184 pounds and Mason True is ranked eighth at 165 pounds.
The Eagles haven't wrestled since losing at Gannon last Saturday, 21-18. Byrd did not wrestle against the Knights due to injury. He will be ready to go this week.
|1.||St. Cloud State||160||1st|
|17.||Fort Hays State||28||14th|