Second Annual Adrian Bulldogs Men's Wrestling Invitational on Tap Saturday

Dylan Steward is a top returner for the Bulldogs in 2018-19. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)
Dylan Steward is a top returner for the Bulldogs in 2018-19. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)

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ADRIAN, Mich.--Bill Schindel sat matside in the gym at the Merillat Center and took it all in during the Black and Gold intrasquad last week. The third-year coach thoroughly enjoyed watching 20 of his Bulldog wrestlers compete on Saturday, Oct. 27.

"Now we finally have that depth were guys are fighting for positions," Schindel said. "It translates well into real world -- you're going to be fighting to get a job. For me that's the most exciting part. It creates a great team atmosphere and, at the end of the day, everybody is still a Bulldog."

Adrian College has 39 wrestlers on its roster this season, up from 24 last season.

Some key returning projected starters include:

  • Three-year starter Dylan Steward returns for his junior year and leads the Bulldogs at 157 pounds after winning 32 matches last season.
  • Noah Nieman, a sophomore, was second with 26 wins and will compete at 149 pounds.
  • Sophomore Michael Jacobs won 15 matches for the Bulldogs last season and will wrestle 165 pounds.
  • Jake Burns picked up 13 wins as a freshman and will wrestle 197 this season.
  • Bryant Moore earned 12 wins and will compete at 174 pounds for his sophomore campaign.

Sophomore transfers Judah Caballero and Devon Pingel will wrestle at 125 and 184 pounds, respectively. Caballero comes to Adrian from NCAA Division II Notre Dame College in Ohio, while Pingel transferred in from Division I Cleveland State.

"To me, it all stems from treating kids the right way and building solid relationships," Schindel said. "We are honest with these guys during the visit."

The Bulldogs will look to improve in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association duals this year against Olivet, Alma and Trine.

"We have to become a team. The first guy can't have a bigger name than the 39th guy," Schindel said. "The talent is in the room. We have to push their buttons and just get guys to buy in."

Seniors Zachary Reynolds, Dominic Paterra and James Renaud were members of that first squad in the modern era of wrestling at Adrian (that the College re-started as a varsity program for the 2015-16 season)

"We just need leadership from everybody," Schindel said. "This team has got to grow up quickly. It's exciting because we're very talented, but now we've got to come together as a team."

The Bulldogs will get a chance to showcase those talents at 10 a.m. on Saturday during the Adrian Invitational at the Merillat Sport & Fitness Center field house. The participating teams joining host Adrian are John Carroll, Heidelberg, Henry Ford, Lourdes, No. 5 Wabash, Defiance, Wilmington, Toledo club team, No. 13 Mount Union and Ohio Wesleyan. 

Admission for an all-day pass pricing is $10 for adults, $5 for students and free to MIAA students with college identification. There will be double elimination with eight places determined for each weight class and team scores will be kept.

"We are excited to kick the season off (this weekend)," Schindel said. "(It's) Always great to have a huge home event and a home crowd."

Adrian also hosts duals against Case Western on Jan. 17 (6 p.m.) and Olivet on Jan. 31 (7 p.m.), both on Thursday, in the MSFC.

--Dominic Adams, Special to

#BuildingAFoundation #AdrianBulldogs #GoDawgs #GDTBAB

Here's a brief synopsis on some of the other participating teams:

= The wrestling team is beginning a new era under head coach Tony Guerra, who most recently was an assistant at NCAA Division II Ashland University and the head coach at Toledo (Ohio) Central Catholic High School before that.
= The Yellow Jackets welcome freshmen Rosendo Beltran and Dominic Newton who both will look to compete for mat time this season at 125. Beltran comes to DC after graduating from Toledo Central Catholic where he was a three-time state qualifier finishing fourth overall his senior year. Newton joins the Yellow Jacket family from Euclid High School.
= Freshmen Noah Saunders, Seth Beard and Raymier Hickerson will all look to battle this season at 133, as they bring a tremendous amount of skill and talent to the mat. Beard comes to Defiance from Napoleon High School where he was a four-time state placer, two-time Ohio finalist and a state champion as a senior. Saunders makes the short trip to DC from Swanton High School, while Hickerson makes the trip west from Cleveland Heights High School.
= Freshman Alex Smith will look to dominate the 141-pound weight class as he comes to DC from Sandusky St. Mary's High School. While at St. Mary's, Smith qualified for the state tournament three times and was a state placer on two separate occasions.


= OAC runner-ups in 2017-18, return nine starters from last year's lineup.
= Under the leadership of fifth year head coach Tony Patrizi
= The Student Princes will be led by 2017-18 National Qualifier, Tyler Hammack at the 184 weight class. Hammack was 27-13 last year and was 3-2 in OAC competition. He placed third at the NCAA Regionals to book a spot in Cleveland.
= Mason Brainard, a returning regional placer at 125, will hope to punch his ticket to the national Championships this year in the 133 weight class after posting a 27-10 record last season.
= Hayden Bates who finished 2017-18 with a 14-10 record. Bates who wrestled at 149 in 2017-18 will hope to improve upon his 4th place finish at the Regional Tournament a year ago.

Henry Ford College
= The program began as a club sport and was a member of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA), founded in 2013 and the team competed in local, regional and national tournaments.
= Head coach Grant Mackenzie led multiple HFC grapplers to the NCWA National Championships and coached two NCWA All-Americans.
= In 2017, the club was elevated to varsity status and now competes in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
= The Hawks opened their season on Oct. 27 at the Akron duals.

John Carroll
= Last year, the Blue Streaks went 7-6 after turning in a second-place finish at the first Adrian Invitational.
= Senior Jarrad Lasko won three matches over All-Americans last year and finished second in the regional, earning him a spot at the NCAA national championships.
= Jarrod Brezovec won three tournaments last year.
= Vittorio Santillo took sixth in the region after wrestling in three different weight classes throughout the year.
= Four new coaching staff members join the team this year--three of whom wrestled for JCU head coach Mark Hawald.

=The NAIA-affiliated program is in its third season at the varsity level.
= Ray Porter has made back-to-back NAIA National Championship appearances for the Gray Wolves at 125 pounds.
= Lourdes finished fourth in the Sooner Athletic Conference championships last season and 33rd at the NAIA national championships.
= The Gray Wolves have their largest roster in program history with 39 student-athletes, including 27 returnees
= Tyler Roberts led the team with 17 victories last season, all at 133 pounds.

Mount Union
= Finished 2017-18 second in the Ohio Athletic Conference, 10th at Nationals with four qualifiers and a NCAA champion: Jairod James (174 pounds), Nick Mancini (125, 1st), Nolan Wochna (133, 5th; graduated) and Michael McIntire (157).
= All told, the Purple Raiders have produced 51 All-America awards and two national champions.
= Mount has 15 returners, 14 freshmen and three new transfers that include Jordin James (Iowa Lakes Community College), Antwon Pugh (Notre Dame College), Tyler Stepic (Redshirt freshman from Navy)
= Josh Malave is in his third season as head coach, 2x national qualifier at Mount Union
= New assistant coaches, Gavin Speelman and Jeff Kullman

Ohio Wesleyan
= This weekend's invitational is the Battling Bishops' first intercollegiate wrestling competition since 1984.
= Wrestling was previously a varsity sport at Ohio Wesleyan during the 1920s but was dropped after the 1926-27 season. Wrestling was a club sport beginning in 1953 and returned to varsity status for the 1956-57 season, and was dropped after the 1983-84 season.
= Freshman Jaret Lowry was a conference champion in high school.
= Freshman Matt Hall finished seventh in his state high school tournament.
= Freshman Bryce Wittman was a two-time All-America selection in high school.
= Freshman Caleb Blake was a two-time state qualifier in high school.
= Freshman Nathan Scott was an all-conference selection in high school.

Toledo Club
= The Rockets are ranked fifth in the preseason poll by the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) in Division 1.
= Dominic Vasquez ended his freshman year as a national Greco-Roman champion and Most Outstanding Wrestler of the second annual NCWA Go-Greco Nationals at Richland College in Texas. This season, the sophomore is 3-1 at 184 pounds.
= Sophomore Zach Blevins is 3-0 at 149.
= Senior Deante Evans is also undefeated (2-0) at 133.  

= The Little Giants finished fifth at the 2018 NCAA Division Wrestling Championships.
= Wabash begins the season ranked fifth in the National Wrestling Coaches Association DIII team rankings, receiving 25 total points. The Little Giants trail Augsburg (44 points), Ithaca (40 points), Johnson and Wales (36 points), and Wartburg (32 points) in the preseason rankings.
= Junior Owen Doster is ranked eighth at 141 pounds in the preseason poll. Doster is a two-time national qualifier and placed.
= Austin Bethel placed third at 149 pounds at the 2018 NCAA Championship Tournament and enters the 2018-19 season ranked fifth in the 157-pound weight class.
= Kyle Hatch scored an eighth-place finish in the 157-pound weight class at the 2018 NCAA Championship Tournament as a freshman. He is ranked fifth at 165 pounds heading into the
start of the 2018-19 season.
= Darden Schurg placed fourth at 174 pounds at the 2018 NCAA Championship Tournament. He is ranked second in the preseason poll at 174 heading into the 2018-19 campaign as a junior.
= Hunter Bates opens his junior year ranked tenth at 184 pounds after qualifying for the NCAA tournament last year for the first time.

=Wilmington College is competing in wrestling at the varsity level for the first time since the 2011 season.
= Justin Kihn, head wrestling coach, was an All-American at Heidelberg University.
= Jimmy Wallace, Class of 2003, won the 2002 national title in the 157-pound weight class.
= The Quakers will have five individuals - Gabe Obregon (133 pounds), Brady Wilson (157 pounds), Sean Drew (165 pounds), Issa Khalil (197 pounds) and Seth Jermer (285 pounds) competing in various weight classes in the AC Invitational.