Colt Sponseller Announced As Ashland University Head Wrestling Coach
Courtesy of Ashland Athletics – Link
A familiar name and face in Ohio wrestling circles is the new name and face leading Ashland University’s wrestling program.
Al King, Ashland Director of Athletics, announced on Monday (Nov. 23) morning that Colt Sponseller, former wrestler at nearby West Holmes High School and The Ohio State University, is the 10th head coach in the six-decade history of Eagle grappling. Sponseller has spent the last five years as an assistant coach at NCAA Division I Ohio University.
“I’m super excited,” Sponseller said. “The history of Ashland wrestling and the University, it’s a long history of success. I’m really excited to have my first head-coaching job be here. My first experience in college wrestling was here at the Wendy’s Duals. Coming up here for camps and knowing a lot of the alumni…just knowing the history and tradition of success here, I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
“Our hope is Colt will bring some new perspectives, ideas and energy to our wrestling program,” King said. “He’s been mentored by some veteran coaches who know how to build and direct an entire wrestling program, one that focuses on academic and athletic success.
“Colt brings an interesting background to campus. He grew up close to Ashland and got his first taste of college wrestling coming to AU to watch our teams and wrestle in summer camps. He competed at Ohio State and coached at Edinboro and Ohio University. Our hope is those experiences are going to help generate some new features for our program.”
Sponseller takes over at Ashland for Josh Hutchens, who spent seven seasons leading Ashland wrestling before leaving in September to take an athletic director position in the Daleville (Ind.) Community School District. Sponseller is coming into a program right before a new season – and with the added challenges that come with navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I already have a nice framework set. It’s a matter of me hitting the ground running,” Sponseller said. “As far as the COVID thing, I’ve been dealing with it for eight months at my previous position, so it’s a matter of just knowing the protocols, knowing everything here, what’s going on with being in a different division, as well.
“You have to make adjustments as need be.”
Sponseller will have three returning 2020 NCAA Division II All-Americans in seniors Carson Speelman (149 pounds), Aidan Pasiuk (184) and Tristen Weirich (285) on the 2020-21 roster. As for the ability to recruit future Eagles, Sponseller’s extensive Ohio wrestling background and AU’s wrestling past sets up to be a winning combination.
“It’s really just showing these kids what Ashland can offer them, and the history and tradition of success,” said Sponseller, “and what an Ashland degree means. That will get them to Ashland, not necessarily my name.”
Prior to coming to guide the Eagles, Sponseller was an assistant with the Bobcats, with whom he coached 19 NCAA qualifiers, one Mid-American Conference champion, one NCAA All-American and three Top 30 National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Academic Teams.
Sponseller began his coaching career at NCAA Division II Edinboro from 2012-15. There, he was part of a program which finished third and fifth nationally, and he coached 18 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champions, 10 Eastern Wrestling League champs, 12 NCAA qualifiers and nine NCAA All-Americans.
As a Buckeye grappler, Sponseller was both an NCAA Division I All-American (fourth-place nationals finish at 165 pounds in 2011) and Academic All-American (2010-11). He earned an overall record of 105-24 (.814) at OSU, and after his collegiate career, was fifth at the 2015 world team trials.
Sponseller is a 2012 graduate of OSU from the Fisher College of Business with a degree in Business Administration and a specialization in Marketing. He earned his Master of Arts in Communication Studies with a specialization of Managerial Leadership from Edinboro in 2016.
“In doing our background on Colt, we were constantly reminded about his well-defined work ethic and integrity,” King said. “Those have been the staples of our wrestling program, and we believe Colt can carry on and build upon the exceptional work done recently by Tim Dernlan and Josh Hutchens. Tim and Josh came to us as young head coaches with fire and passion. I see Colt in the same mode.”
Said Sponseller, “I’m appreciative of the whole hiring committee and Al and everybody that was involved. A lot of the kids on this roster are from this area, and that’s near and dear to me. I take pride in where I’m from. I take a lot of pride coming from this area.
“I want to put all my work and effort into keeping Ashland what it is, and hopefully bringing home national titles and producing good kids that are leaders in their community. That’s the main goal.”
Ashland’s wrestling team will be an associate member of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference in 2020-21, and will compete in the 2021 Great Midwest Championships in January, before the entire Eagle athletic department joins the conference in full starting in 2021-22.
– Edward Bush – 1961-62 (1 season)
– Bob Geiger – 1962-63 to 1964-65 (3 seasons)
– Chris Ford – 1965-66 to 1975-76 (11 seasons)
– Al Platt – 1976-77 to 1978-79 (3 seasons)
– Mark Osgood – 1979-80 to 1987-88 (9 seasons)
– Tom Linder – 1988-89 to 1993-94 (5+ seasons)
– Ray Kowatch – 1993-94 to 2007-08 (14+ seasons)
– Tim Dernlan – 2008-09 to 2012-13 (5 seasons)
– Josh Hutchens – 2013-14 to 2019-20 (7 seasons)
– Colt Sponseller – 2020-21 (current)