Four AU wrestlers ranked nationally in MWCA



Red-shirt senior Bret Romanzak is ranked No. 4 in the country at 174 pounds.

Chante Rutherford, Reporter

Ranked No. 8 in the nation from the National Wrestling Coaches Association at the start of the athletic school year, the Ashland University wrestling team has been powering through their matches and tournaments to achieve their highest potential.

Currently, there are four athletes who are ranked nationally: junior Carson Speelman is ranked No. 4 in the 149 pound weight class, junior Aidan Pasiuk is ranked No. 6 at 184 pounds, redshirt-senior Bret Romanzak is No. 4 in the country at 174 pounds and Chandler Minnard is No. 9 at 141 pounds.

“We have the success but we do it right. We do it right with the right people,” head wrestling coach Josh Hutchens said. In his seventh year with the Eagles, Hutchens said he wants to see the best in his team.

Wrestling is not only a physical sport, but it is also mental according to Hutchens. From practice to matches, each athlete is working towards a unique goal.

“When we start practice, we do our warm-ups for about ten to fifteen minutes and then head into a technique called ‘hard drilling’ to gain muscle memory and for the moves to happen naturally,’’ Hutchens said. “We want our guys to be strong, but also smart and cognisant of what’s going on in a match.”

On the mat, live practicing begins where the mental and physical training merges. From 30 minutes to an hour, the team works on building up strength so when it comes time to competition, they are prepared for the opponent.

“Simulated matches run for seven minutes which is the standard for competition. There are also grind matches where you run for ten minutes non-stop.”

When it comes to competition, they may win as a team but each person has something to achieve that day.

“There is a bit of individual talking beforehand but we meet as a group and stress to them what we are looking for. We’re not really focused on winning. We are focused on performing well. We see these matches as practice until we get to the regional tournaments,” Hutchens said.

Even though they represent AU when on the mat, they also represent AU as students too. Hutchens believes that wrestling need not be their only focus while on campus.

“They are students first. Integrity comes first. We want them to make sure that the school fits them not only athletically, but academically too.”

Romanzak has taken these ideals and values to heart to the point he has been recognized nationally.

“I was six years old and my dad got me into it. He wrestled in high school and signed me up at the youth rec center,” Romanzak said.

He is working towards his masters in finance, and wrestling has made a big impact on his life from childhood up to now. Romanzak said the sport gives him a source of discipline.

“Whether in school, work or relationships, it has trained me to commit to something that might be difficult in the short term. It is hard and maybe not the most fun, but stick through it and you get rewarded in the long run.”

Romanzak admits that it is difficult for student athletes to maintain different aspects of their lives while on campus.

“It is very easy to get very focused on this or that. You can get so focused on cutting weight, training, and matches that it will be easy to neglect your school work but it is the same vice versa. The key is to focus on them equally and find a good middle ground,” Romanzak said.

Within AU’s wrestling program, being a student is a top priority. For Romanzak, he was able to find the atmosphere of the campus and the students to make him choose AU.

“I looked at a few schools big and small and saw how Ashland gave me what I wanted,” Romanzak said.

The team travels and bonds together and creates an environment that makes everyone welcomed.

“Right before practice, we play this game of killer hackysack and get warmed up a bit,”
Romanzak said.

As the team advances in the season, the main goal is to get as many wrestlers to the national tournament.

“We are very focused on this season,” Hutchens said. “We look at the new season and see a lot of change. We’re losing a few seniors, we have a few people that we’ll redshirt but we will look at next season for rebuilding.”

Even though the spring semester just began, the next class of students that enter the program must understand that there must be a balance between athletics and academics.

“It’s not easy. You have to make it happen. Get your grades, be a member of the campus and the community. Put the effort in,” Romanzak said.

According to Romanzak, individual goals all lead to the same thing: success. Discovering what you want to work towards early on will yield better results.

“We want to identify the reasons you do the sport. The earlier the better,” Hutchens said.