It was a red-letter night for Ashland University's wrestling team on Saturday (Feb. 7).
Prior to Saturday's match against Findlay at Kates Gymnasium, the Eagles' new locker room, named after former Ashland College head wrestling coach Chris Ford and given by former Ashland wrestler Dr. Edwin A. Hissa, was dedicated. Ford, a member of the 1990 Ashland University Sports Hall of Fame class, is considered the "father of Ashland University wrestling." He was the school's first full-time coach in 1966, and finished his Eagle career with a record of 95-55-5.
A video of Ford was presented prior to the match – a match which finished with a down-to-the-wire 19-18 final score in favor of the Eagles.
"We can credit it all to Trae. The win belongs to Trae," said Ashland head coach Josh Hutchens of freshman 125-pounder Trae Coopwood, who lost a 10-0 major decision – which normally wouldn't be a cause of celebration, except the team had been forfeiting that weight for most of the season.
"That's the difference in the match. We could have won several duals this year (with him). And I like his effort."
Junior Michael Labry, the No. 2-ranked wrestler in Division II at 133 pounds, pinned Findlay freshman Josh Wimer in 6:12 to improve to 31-1 on the season.
"The best thing I can say about him is he's looking better than he did last year. He's looking in better shape and fresher in matches. He's improving in the areas he's good in," Hutchens said.
Perhaps the biggest match of the night was at 157, where junior Zeb Beam took a late 2-1 decision from Joey White, Findlay's No. 2 grappler in terms of wins coming into the match.
"That guy was in the national rankings before, and he was ranked No. 1 in the region (earlier)," Hutchens said. "We had a strategy, and we stuck with it. We wanted to slow him down, and we held him (Zeb) back."
Saturday also was Ashland's Senior Night. Being honored were three graduating seniors – Michael Hummer (Osceola, Ind./Penn), Josh Hunter (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington) and Gavin Shannon (Utica, Ohio/Utica).
"You couldn't ask for much better with the excitement coming down to the heavyweight match," Hutchens said. "You couldn't ask for a better night after the ceremony and all the alumni here. It turned out to be a pretty good day."
Ashland will return to the mat on Wednesday (Feb. 11) at 7 p.m. at Tiffin.