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Otterbein University scores win in first wrestling match since 1974

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WESTERVILLE, Ohio – The Otterbein University wrestling program relaunched in exciting fashion Wednesday evening, defeating Thomas More College by a score of 36-10 in front of a packed Rike Center gymnasium.

The Cardinals, returning to the mat for the first time since the program was cut following the 1974 season, received a loud ovation from the crowd as they took the mat for introductions.

"This was definitely something special tonight," said Drew Kasper, 197 pounds. "I didn't realize how big it was until we walked out onto the mat and got that loud response. It was a pretty impressive environment that had my heart racing a bit."

Freshman Jackson Lakso opened the action with a bang at 125 pounds, pinning his opponent in just 55 seconds to thrust Otterbein out to a 6-0 advantage. The Cards never trailed from that point, getting a pin from 141-pounder Jake Vaughan two matches later and flying to victory.

"I'm so happy to be back competing and just thankful for this opportunity," said Vaughan, who wrestled for Ohio State from 2008-10 before spending almost six years away. "It's such a great feeling to return and I'm ready to submerge and dedicate myself to the grind again."

Otterbein overcame a pair of early losses and then took the final six matches, beginning with a wild 54-second pin from freshman Willy Plaisir and then victories from Don Didion, Braden Neuberger, Corbin Bunsold, Kasper and Gage Archer.

Neuberger trailed early on before coming from behind to secure a 9-4 decision, while Bunsold tallied a pin at 3:25 by wearing down his opponent early in the second round. Kasper overcame some adversity to outlast Thomas More's Avery Jones, 14-11, before 285-pounder Gage Archer finished off the night with a 12-5 triumph.

"It was my first time competing on the mat in over a year," Kasper reflected. "I was so amped up and ready to go that it played a factor into me gassing early. I definitely had to make some adjustments and was glad to hold on."

Thomas More was also making a long-awaited debut in its inaugural season after recently adding wrestling as a varsity sport as well. The Saints scored their 10 points with two technical-fall victories, but an inspired Otterbein group proved too strong in front of a home crowd littered with family, friends, media, students, staff members and campus administrators.

 "We have a goofy and big-hearted bunch," said Vaughan, 26. "A lot of people look at me as the veteran member, but this group has already inspired me a lot as well. They are bringing me back to those younger years and we all continue pushing one another."

Otterbein will be back in action Sunday at the John Carroll University Duals, beginning with a 10 a.m. matchup against Alfred State.



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Otterbein had it going on for their first match of the year. There were a lot of fans there sporting their Otterbein gear. As visiting fans we were way outnumbered. From the announcers to the live feed they put on a class show even tossing t shirts into the crowd. If they keep this up they'll be drawing a lot of kids there to wrestle.

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