VERSAILLES — Versailles senior Matt Mangen signed his letter of intent on Wednesday to wrestle for Ohio Northern University.
Mangen, the son of Phil and Ronda Mangen, said he was looking at a lot of colleges prior to making his decision. He liked Ohio Northern and was impressed by the Polar Bears’ interest in him, he said.
“I really liked it, and their coach stayed with me on a consistent basis,” Mangen said. “And that’s what really made my decision easy for me to see that’s where I wanted to go.”
In high school Mangen qualified for the Ohio High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament twice in the 126-pound weight class. As a senior he finished eighth in the state, achieving his goal of reaching the podium at state but leaving him wanting more.
“After state I kind of had a bitter taste in my mouth,” Mangen said. “I felt like I could have done better. I said what more to try to better myself than to go to college and wrestle, too. It was a no-brainer for me to wrestle at the college level.”
Reaching the podium as a senior in a very tough weight class really showed Mangen’s abilities, Versailles wrestling coach A.J. Bey said.
“I think he got some coaches’ heads turned, and he’s a very hard worker, and I think they’re going to be very pleased with him,” Bey said.
Mangen will study business at Ohio Northern. The university’s academics always were appealing, he said.
“They got a good business program,” Mangen said. “I know their academics are always excellent. The academics I wasn’t really worried about because I know they’ve got great programs there. If you come out with a degree there, then you’re looking pretty good.”
Ohio Northern’s wrestling program has several wrestlers from the area around Versailles including Covington and Troy, which also made it an appealing option for Mangen.
“I know a lot of people on the team because a lot of them are local,” the Versailles senior said. “So that was nice, going in and already knowing a lot of the guys and being familiar with them and stuff. So that will make the transition to college a little bit easier.”
Mangen’s determination and work ethic will help him to succeed at the college level, Bey said.
“His determination and like I said his work ethic is unbelievable,” the Versailles coach said. “Division I, II or III as a freshman coming in, it’s going to be a little tough. But I think he’s got the determination and the drive that’s going to take him through.”
Ohio Northern, which competes in NCAA Division III, has a strong wrestling tradition.
The Polar Bears finished 13th at last year’s Division III championships and have finished 21st or higher in five straight NCAA championships. The team has 42 winning seasons in the 48 years of the program, has won five national championships and has had 29 all-Americans.
Mangen said he’s ready for the challenge of wrestling at the collegiate level and thinks Ohio Northern’s coaches will help prepare him.
“They’ll put you out and you’ll get a good bit of matches,” Mangen said. “You’ll see where yourself is at. I feel like I’m ready to take on the challenges and stuff.”
Mangen has big goals for his college career, including becoming an all-American.
“Definitely want to be an all-American some day,” he said. “Just to be able to say that I am one; that will really show that my hard work’s paid off.”