Wrestling champion returns to coach at AU

Former Eagle Romanzak joins wrestling coaching staff

Wesley Seyfang

The Ashland Wrestling team has added assistant coach Bret Romanzak to its coaching staff.

Romanzak wrestled for five years with the Eagles. Throughout his time at Ashland University, he continued to gain muscle and move up in weight classes. In his first year, he weighed into the 157 pound class, spent the next three in the 165 pound weight class, before his final year, where he weighed into the 174 pound weight class.

In high school, Romanzak had a career record of 173 wins and 26 losses. This success translated into his collegiate career with a record of 119 wins and 17 losses, ranking third in school history.

Romanzak is bringing his success as a former Division II national champion to being a coach who is looking to keep building championship contenders in the program.

“I’m thrilled about it. I couldn’t be more excited,” Romanzak said. “I came here in 2015, it felt like home, and it’s one of the big pieces that drew me here. Just thrilled about it.”

Romanzak and head coach Colt Sponseller, now in his second year with AU, are both excited to see what they can bring to their athletes this year with a solid foundation of coaching.

Sponseller has many years of experience as a coach. He has coached at Ohio State as an assistant and Division II Edinboro as the head coach, before being hired by AU in 2020.

Sponseller has already led the Eagles to a seventh place finish at the NCAA Division II Championships with five All-Americans in his first year, and speaks highly of his group of wrestlers and what his new assistant coach can bring to them.

“Bret was a big part of the core of the team for the last couple of years,” Sponseller said. “He really knows what it takes to be successful. Having him in that position is huge for us and a lot of the guys already look up to him and rely on his advice on what he did to be successful here, both in the classroom and athletically.”

While the presence of a national champion along with a coach who has displayed great success at previous schools figures to give the Eagles an advantage over other teams, what makes the biggest difference for the team is having more time to prepare due to no time being taken away due to COVID-19 complications.

“Typically the season is two semesters but because of losing time last year we had to make do with only one,” redshirt sophomore Daniel Beemer said. “Of course, this year we are worried about quarantine so we are taking all the precautions we can, but being able to have two semesters to work with our coaches and train is going to be huge for all of us this year.”

Under Sponseller and Romanzak, Beemer hopes to build upon his success last year with yet another strong showing at the national championship.

“Bret definitely inspires me and makes everything feel more comfortable and at ease,” Beemer said. “I came in as a freshman and saw him become a national champion and now seeing him become my assistant coach is great for me, the team, and Ashland in general.”

Romanzak celebrating his victory at the NCAA Division II Championships while representing Ashland University. (RETRIEVED FROM: THEOPENMAT.COM)