BEREA, Ohio – The Baldwin Wallace University wrestling team aims to four-peat as Ohio Athletic Conference Champions in 2018-19. The Yellow Jackets tied a school record with a third straight OAC crown a year ago (the 1971-73 teams also won three straight). To win a fourth consecutive OAC title, BW must survive another rugged OAC schdule.
Under the helm of eight-year head coach Jamie Gibbs, who is reigning three-time OAC Coach of the Year and posts a career record of 159-73, BW will look to add another OAC championship to its belt. Gibbs returns 15 letterwinners, one All-American, and six national qualifiers from a team that finished the season ranked No. 6-nationally. The Yellow Jackets qualified a school-record and a Division III-best nine student-athletes to the 2018 NCAA Division lll National Championships and won its first-ever NCAA Division lll Central Region Championship. BW also hosted the 2018 NCAA Div. III National Championship Tournament at Public Hall in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.
"Our guys are really eager to get the season started. Of course, we are aware of our past success but certainly understand that this is a new season and everything is up for grabs. No one is going to lay down for us and we have to be our best every day. We are learning every day to trust the process and that we must earn everything we want," Gibbs added.
Senior two-time All-American Anthony Arroyo (Maumee) returns after claiming third-place at his second straight NCAA Division lll tournament appearance last season. Arroyo, who has a 92-15 career mark, earned an All-Central Region honors, won a Central Region title and earned a first-team All-OAC accolades. He was the John Summa OAC Wrestler of the Year.
Accompanying Arroyo in the senior class are All-OAC first-teamer Zeckary Lehman (Akron/ Richfield Revere) and All-OAC second-teamer Justin Ransom (Madison). Lehman notched a career-best 31 victories, earned his second varsity letter and was an NCAA Division III national qualifier. Ransom won a career-high 27 matches, earned his second varsity letter and qualified for the 2018 Div. III national tourney.
Rounding out the seniors are Richie Burke (Ithaca, N.Y./Ithaca), Christopher Head (Massillon/Jackson), Benjamin Hooff (Worthington/Thomas Worthington), and James Ritchie (Carlisle). Burke, who 26 matches as a freshman starter, returns after an injury sidelined him early last season.
Headlining the juniors are All-OAC first-teamer Dante Ginnetti (Poland/ Seminary) and National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) All-Academic selection Charlie Nash (Norwalk). Ginnetti was tied for the team-lead with a career-best 36 wins and led the team with a career-high 18 pins. In addition to being named to the NWCA academic team, Ginnetti was another of BW's nine national qualifiers in 2017-2018. Nash won a career-high 27 matches, also was an NCAA qualifier, earned All-Central Region accolades and was an Academic All-OAC choice.
Filling out the upperclassmen are Academic All-OAC Nicholas Berry (Laura/Dayton Carroll), Academic All-OAC Nick Sbrocco (Perry), Adam Green (Austintown/Fitch), and Aaron Kelly (Rocky River). Berry marked a career-high nine pins, had a record of 17-5, while earning his second varsity letter. Winning a career-high 10 matches and earning his first varsity letter was Sbrocco.
Returning from a prolific freshman campaign is second-team All-OAC pick Stanley Bleich (North Ridgeville/Elyria Catholic). Bleich was named to NWCA All-Academic team, was an NCAA Division lll National qualifier and earned All-Central Region honors en route to claiming 32 victories.
Joining Bleich in the sophomore class are Academic All-OAC selection Patrick Simon (Olmsted Falls) at 285 pounds, Zachary Baker (Marengo/ Highland), Maxwell Bourque (Avon), Chad Craft (Dayton/ Northmont), Dalton Leightner (Ravenna/ Rootstown), Tanner McHugh (New Ringgold, Pa./ Tamaqua), Ryan Orr (Wadsworth), Trevor Scherf (Graytown/ Oak Harbor), and Michael Yacapraro (Wooster/ Triway). Simon will join the squad following football season. He starts on the offensive line.
The 10 freshmen recruits are Andrew Bachie (Berea/ Berea-Midpark), Damon Beatty (Troy/ Christian), Aidan Cardaman (Geneva), Jacob Coppenger (Maryville/ Heritage), Nicholas Franks (Brecksville/ Broadview Heights), Mason Haas (Toledo/ Maumee), Ryan Haas (Toledo/ Maumee), Parker Meaney (Ashtabula/ Lakeside), Jarod Miller (Greenville/ Reynolds), and Dominic Shelley (Mentor) will look to gain valuable experience from a talented group.
BW will start the season with a trip to Alliance, Ohio to square off against rival University of Mount Union on November 13, at 7 p.m. The past two seasons, the BW versus Mt. Union match has determined the OAC champion.
In addition, The Yellow Jackets host the 33rd John Summa Tournament on February 2, at the Lou Higgins Center Fieldhouse at 9 a.m. The NCAA Central Regional Championships will occupy the weekend of February 22 and 23, followed by the NCAA Division lll Championships on March 8-9.
"We have put together a very competitive schedule that allows our men to test their skills week-in and week-out against the nation's best at the NCAA Division III level," Gibbs stated, "That combined with one of the best coaching staff's in the country will put them in position to attain all of the their goals and dreams".