Austin Assad is certainly no stranger to the biggest stages in wrestling as he has wrestled for an Ohio State Championship twice, coming away without the coveted state of Ohio title. He has also competed in what is considered the nation’s toughest in-season High School tournament, Walsh Ironman, and twice coming away with 3rd place honors. Although he has wrestled on the biggest stages a High School wrestler could, that top prize has seemed to elude him…..until now that is.
Assad traveled to Fargo knowing he was in an absolutely brutal weight class, filled with 3X/4X state champions, returning Fargo Champions and All-Americans. For most this would probably be pretty intimidating, but Austin was well prepared.
“This summer I trained more than I ever had in the past,” said Assad. “I went to Colorado Springs, Arizona State, Texas to train with Kendal Cross and Jack Mueller. I mainly focus on the hard work I put in and I know it will pay off in March(at the Ohio State Championships).”
After seven victories, Assad finally found himself at the top of the mountain on the National stage winning a Junior National title in Fargo. It took seven straight victories, including a semi-final, 14-4 tech fall, win over 2013 Junior National Champ, Hunter Marko of Wisconsin. He was down in the finals by 7 points when he finally caught his momentum and a 4 point move, followed by two consecutive leg laces to take the lead. He held off Sean Russell Georgia (4X Georgia State Champ) with a 11-8 victory.
“I dedicated my summer training trying to reach that next level and put myself in the position to win Fargo.”
One may wonder how a wrestler can miss a state title three times, then go out and win perhaps one of the toughest tournaments in the world. Simply put, each year Assad has ran into a Massillon Perry wrestler, each one who went on to win the state championship that year. This past year he found himself in the wrestle-back rounds in Columbus for the first time in his stellar High School career. Many times elite wrestlers fizzle out with such quick turn around time before they have to regroup to compete in the consolation rounds. That was NOT the case with Austin.
“Losing my match in the quarters was defiantly devastating,” he said. “I tried not letting the loss affect my wrestling and I had to just focused on my next match.”
Assad steamed rolled through the rest of his bracket, as he was on a mission clearly. He finished 3rd in the Division 1 120lb bracket, considered one of the state’s top brackets of 2014.
Assad’s team, Brecksville, has been making waves and knocking on the door for a team state title and has the talent to push for a 2015 title. He looks to capture his first Ohio State title but has extremely high hopes for his team. “It would be awesome for me to win a state title along with a team title. We deserve it.”
Brecksville head coach, Todd Haverdill, knows the potential of his National Champion and has watched Austin put himself in position for great things over the years.
“Austin is one of the most driven kids I have ever been around,” Haverdill said. “He has really matured and learned to enjoy the process of improving. At this point in his career he understands and enjoys the training.”
Haverdill and his top-flight coaching staff at Brecksville have put Assad and their entire team in position for great things. In regards to Austin, this summer they point together programs for him to train with the likes of Kendall Cross and at the Olympic Training Center.
With Brecksville team knocking on the door in Columbus each year, we asked Haverdill what has changed in his wrestling room.
“I honestly dont know if anything has changed in our room. I think it has more to do with success breeds success. As our program got a little better each year, the expectations and confidence the kids had continued to grow. Once one kid from Brecksville placed at the state tournament, won a state title, placed at a national tournament, won a national championship, went on to wrestle in college, became a college All-American, etc... the next generation of kid believed it could be done at Brecksville.”
It is clear that Assad is focused on his next goals and his future. Quickly after his Fargo title, he made a verbal commitment to wrestle at the next level. He will be taking his talents up North to Ann Arbor Michigan and wrestling for Ohio native, Joe McFarland, at the University of Michigan. This has been a pipeline for Ohio wrestlers in the past 15 years that has clearly worked out for U of M and the wrestlers.
So why the University of Michigan?
“He (Joe McFarland) is a great coach along with the staff he has put together and he is a coach I would want to wrestle for,” said Assad.
To stay focused on his goals Assad was quick to add that by committing early, it will help keep him on track to just training, wrestling, and meeting his goals.
“University of Michigan is a great school academically and also has a great wrestling team. They also have one of the best coaching staffs in the country. I felt like it was a perfect fit for me.”
Assad realizes that he is taking the leap into the best college wrestling conference on the planet, and will instantly in the mix with the country’s top wrestlers. When asked what is preparing him for such a leap from High School to College. The first thing that popped out was his head coach, Todd Haverdill.
“As a team we compete in the toughest events in high school wrestling and I feel that has prepared me the most.”
Every great wrestler usually has that great partner that helps them prepare and grow each day. Who is that one person that you know each practice is going to be there to help push you? “Justin DeMicco, he’s my teammate that I drill with just about every day.”
If an Ohio State Championship is to finally happen for this great young man, one thing is clear, he has put the work in, done the right things, and kept his priorities in line to meet his goals not only on this level, but the next level and in life.