The Ashland University wrestling team kicked off the 2015-16 wrestling season at the Michigan State Open on Sunday (Nov. 15).
The 10th-ranked Eagles showed some impressive early-season performances that could be a preview of what is to come the rest of the campaign.
Junior 197-pounder Brandon O'Neill placed eighth in the tournament. After losing his opening match to Tyler Greene of Bucknell (Dec 5-4), O'Neill advanced through four rounds of consolation before getting knocked out.
Junior Brent Fickel (149) won his opening-round match by a 6-3 decision over Michigan State's Josh Pennell. After losing his second-round match (Fall 1:07) to Justin Oliver of Central Michigan, Fickel won back-to-back matches in the consolation rounds. He defeated AU senior teammate Nolan Dilts (TF 19-4) and Eastern Michigan's Ben Griffin (Fall 1:18).
Freshman Bret Romanzak (157) wrestled unattached and took down three NCAA Division I opponents. He defeated Nick Naughton (Notre Dame), Keegan McCormick (Missouri) and Jacob Spino (Kent State). Romanzak fell in Round 4 of consolations to Jonathan Carrera of Navy (Dec 3-0).
The day's top performance came from freshman Chandler Minnard (133). Minnard finished with a sixth-place performance in his first meet as an Eagle. He advanced in each of the championship's first two rounds before getting knocked down to consolations. Once there, he defeated Michigan State's Patrick Blommel (Maj. 11-3) and Indiana's Garrett Pepple (Dec 7-2). In the fifth-place match, Minnard fell to Northern Illinois' Angel Velasquez. (Maj. 14-4).
The Eagles will return to the mat on Saturday (Nov. 21) at the Findlay Open.