Wrestling team begins season on strong note

Nate Powalie, Sports Columnist

The Ashland University Wrestling Team is back and ready to hit the mat in their second season in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC).

In their inaugural season in the GMAC last spring, the team won the conference title, and placed seventh in the country. Now, this year’s squad is hungrier and more excited to prove themselves as they strive for another championship appearance on March 22 in St. Louis.

The season got off to a good start on Nov. 6, when they took first place out of a ten-team field at the Mount Union Invitational.

For senior Carson Speelman, even though the COVID-19 pandemic has created some struggles, he plans to be a captain of the group ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

“It’s an interesting spot,” Speelman said. “I lead by example, but I don’t say too much. Coming from a senior perspective, I hope to direct this team in the right direction. Over the past couple of years, you never know what to expect. It’s been kind of bittersweet.”

The team has also been forced to adjust to certain protocols through a pandemic. Some of the protocols involve being assigned drill partners and sticking with them to limit exposure.

In the eyes of the head coach, the team is well prepared.

“I think the team has adjusted well to the Covid protocols,” head coach Colt Sponseller said. “It is not an easy task to uproot someone’s daily life and have to adapt to a new scenario. We are not always perfect but we have to follow what is set in place to have our student-athletes healthy and to also have a wrestling season.”

Overall, the team comes into each day and tournament with a want to win mentality. Winning is a job for the squad.

For one senior in particular, this mentality influences his style of play.

“My mentality going into every match is, ‘I have a job and that job is to win for my team’,” Aidan Pasiuk said. “I remind myself to focus on my positioning and attack. I feel confident and believe in myself before I walk out on that mat. Besides that, I like to just have fun with it and enjoy the process.”

Overall, it’s a new season and a new opportunity for the AU wrestlers. There are big opportunities abound, and a chance at redemption in the national championships is at stake.

A group of wrestlers practice in Kates’ Gym. They hope to repeat as champions in their second year in the GMAC. (HOPE HAGEMAN)