Fueled by a second-place finish at the Midwest Classic on Dec. 16-17, Ashland University wrestling has risen to third in the nation and first in Super Region 2 in the second set of midseason rankings released by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
On Nov. 24, the Eagles were No. 10 in the country with five athletes ranked nationally, and No. 2 in the region with five wrestlers in the top four regionally. Now, there are eight nationally-ranked Eagles, all in the top 10 in their classes. And there is a regionally-ranked AU wrestler at every weight class, nine of which are in the top four.
If the rankings hold true, nine Eagles would be headed to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the National Championships on March 9-10. That would be the most since Josh Hutchens took over as head coach in 2013-14, surpassing the high of seven that was set last season.
Sophomore Bret Romanzak (No. 3 nationally at 165 pounds) and seniors Jordan Murphy (No. 4 at 184) and Luke Cramer (No. 1 at 197) are all at the top of their respective weight classes in Super Region 2. Sophomore Christian Price (No. 9 at 174) is second in the region, junior Lawrance Dudgeon (No. 10 at 133), senior Bob Mason (No. 9 at 141), sophomore Garrett Hall (No. 6 at 157) and Deaken McCoy (285) are third, and junior Sebastian Vidika (No. 9 at 125) is fourth.
Junior J.J. Diven (149) is fifth in the region, one spot from where he would need to be to make nationals.
With 69 points in the national poll, AU sits 11 ahead of No. 4 Cal Baptist and 22 ahead of No. 5 McKendree, and trails No. 2 Wisconsin-Parkside by just three points and No. 1 St. Cloud State by nine.
In the region, the Eagles are ahead of No. 2 UW-Parkside by 10 points with 71.
Ashland faces another big test on Jan. 4-5, as it travels to Fort Wayne, Ind., for the NWCA National Duals.
The Eagles return to Kates Gymnasium at 7 p.m. on Jan. 10 for a dual against Mount Union.