By Blake Moore
ADA — A bright future awaits the Ohio Northern wrestling program after a young roster gained valuable experience and showed promising results during the 2018-19 season under 31st-year head coach Ron Beaschler.
"Our program is currently in a rebuilding mode, which we knew heading into the season," Beaschler stated. "It is always challenging to win matches at the collegiate level with a young, inexperienced team. We had one senior in the starting lineup, making it important for our younger guys to gain experience on the mat."
"Because we were inexperienced, our depth at certain weight classes was impacted. In addition, we had several injuries, but we continued to battle throughout the season. I am proud of our guys' effort"
This year, the Polar Bears finished the regular season with a 6-9 overall record in dual matches, which included a 1-5 mark in the Ohio Athletic Conference. With their league record, ONU ended sixth in the final conference standings.
From there, five Ohio Northern grapplers placed within the top-eight finishers at the NCAA Division III Central Regional Championships at Wabash (Ind.) in February.
Senior 174-pounder Clayton Davidson (Kirtland) and junior 125-pounder Seth Transue (Plain City/Dublin) topped the individual performances at the Central Regional Championships, placing sixth within their respective weight classes.
Meanwhile, sophomore Cash Thompson (Lake Odessa, Mich./Lakewood) ended seventh at 184 pounds while junior Jeff Andrews (New Baltimore, Mich./Anchor Bay) and freshman Shaun Wagner (Southington, Conn.) placed eighth in the 149 and 157 weight classes, respectively.
"Our performance at regionals is the building foundation for next season," Beaschler explained. "We had four athletes place at the event who were not seniors. Not only do they need to develop, but they must also help us build a strong team for the individuals we will be bringing in next season."
"This team was a great group to work with because they were energetic and always ready to get better in practice, giving our coaching staff several positive signs for the future."
This season, Davidson guided the team with a 31-10 overall record during his senior campaign, including a 6-0 mark in the OAC. In addition, he led the team with 10 pins and contributed four major decisions and one tech fall.
For his efforts, the Kirtland product was named All-OAC First-Team, an OAC Wrestler of the Week, and garnered the league's Most Pins/Least Amount of Time Award.
He will also graduate as a member of the 100-Win Club at Ohio Northern, having won 116 career matches, which ranks seventh-best all-time in program history.
"Clayton has had a great career," Beaschler noted. "He was a great leader for us, leading our team by example. He should look back at what he has accomplished here and be very proud of his efforts."
For his performance in the classroom, Davidson joined Transue, Andrews, and Wagner on the National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-America Team.
Davidson, a mechanical engineering major, earned his third consecutive honor from the NWCA.
Transue, a junior studying civil engineering, is also a two-time honoree. Despite being injured throughout the season, the 125-pounder managed to post a 21-8 overall record that included three pins, four tech falls, and five major decisions.
Andrews, a business management major, received his first NWCA academic honor after a stellar junior campaign where he ended second on the team with a 26-13 overall record. Additionally, he led the team with eight tech fall victories and six major decisions while adding five pins.
Wagner, a freshman nursing student, earned his first academic honor. He posted a 23-12 overall record to end tied for third on the team in wins during his first season in a Polar Bear singlet, which included eight pins and three major decisions.
Ohio Northern kicked off the 2018-19 campaign with a fourth-place finish in the nine-team Mount Union Invitational in November.
In addition, the Polar Bears ended third at the ONU Invitational, 27th at the Wheaton (Ill.) Invitational, seventh at the Baldwin Wallace Invitational, and seventh at the Mid-States Invitational in tournament action this season.
Meanwhile, the 2018-19 dual slate was highlighted by a four-match winning streak in December, which included a 26-21 victory over Manchester (Ind.) and a perfect 3-0 trip to the Washington & Lee (Va.) Duals before Christmas Break.
The Polar Bears concluded the season with a trip to the NCAA Division III Central Regional Wrestling Championships at Wabash (Ind.). As a team, Ohio Northern ended 11th in a 19-team field with 51.5 total points.