The Far West has the Open Range. Division II wrestling has Open Season.
This Saturday (Nov. 16, 10 a.m.) the AU wrestling team will compete in an open tournament for the third consecutive weekend. This weekend's event is at home. This will be the first time the Eagles wrestle in renovated Kates Gymnasium. The Eagles better take a good look at their surroundings. They aren't home again until Jan. 5 when the Mid-Atlantic Duals take place.
So far this season, AU has wrestled in open events at Baldwin-Wallace and Mercyhurst. Three Ashland wrestlers - redshirt freshman Brent Fickel at 149 pounds, sophomore Michael Labry at 133 pounds and junior Joe Brandt at 197 pounds - have won championships on the season's first two weekends.
"I've seen a lot that I've liked," said AU head coach Josh Hutchens. "We're in better shape than a lot of the competition. The toughness we've shown, when push comes to shove in a match, we haven't given in. We're breaking people. Talent-wise we've looked better than a lot of people."
The Simonson Open is expected to attract approximately 180 wrestlers. Wrestlers from Baldwin-Wallace, Tiffin, Cleveland State, Indianapolis and Mercyhurst are expected to compete.
It's no surprise that Labry and Brandt are off to strong starts. Both were All-Americans last season and Brandt is a two-time All-American.
"They have very different styles," Hutchens said. "Labry is extremely athletic. People know what's coming and can't stop it. Joe is just a beast, he overpowers people with his strength and speed."
Fickel came to AU as a highly-touted recruit. He missed last season due to injury. If he has any rust on him it's hard to spot.
"His style is he goes and goes and goes," explained Hutchens. "He wears people out. He's constant."
Luke Cramer, wrestling at 174 pounds, Brandon O'Neil at 184 pounds and Tyler Houska at 285 pounds have also wrestled well in the early going. All three are expected to wrestle this weekend. O'Neil missed the opening weekend at Baldwin-Wallace and was third last Saturday at Mercyhurst.
Live results on Saturday can be found at trackwrestling.com.