By Caleb Scott
CLEVELAND — Senior Gavin Nelson (Oregon/Clay) and sophomore Nate Barcaskey (Moon Township, Pa./Moon Area) both made their first career wrestling debuts at the Div. III Wrestling Championships as they represented Ohio Northern on day one of the 2018 Div. III Wrestling Championships at the Cleveland Public Auditorium in downtown Cleveland on Friday.
The Polar Bears made their first appearance at the championships since the 2015 Championships in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
In his first match of the day at bout No. 57, Nelson dropped a 6-2 decision to No. 3-seeded Zach Wilhelm of Stevens (N.J.).
Barcaskey fell to No. 1-seeded Lance Evans of Wartburg (Iowa) in his first match of the afternoon, going the distance before falling 4-0 in a hard fought match.
The sophomore moved on to take on Konrad Ernst of Wis.-LaCrosse in the pigtail of the consolation bracket, where Ernst would win by fall in 5:49 as Barcaskey bowed out of the championships.
Nelson finished the day and wrapped up his impressive career for ONU in the second session of day one and dropped a hard-fought match as Mount Union's Michael McIntire won by fall in 4:53.
"This is a big stage and we needed to come out and attack," said head coach Ron Beaschler. "We didn't really attack well in our first couple of matches. The most important part is just getting here. I think Gavin looked good at certain points and competed well. Nate is still pretty young. I told him the big thing is that he got here. Getting here is the first part. Now that he has a grasp of what this stage is like he has something to work towards. I'm very happy with these guys and the work they have put in this year."