McNally, Rooney wrap up wrestling season at NCAA Tournament


Andrew McNally wrestles against Buffalo’s Logan Rill on Jan. 26. McNally defeated Rill, earning his 26th victory of the year. 

Brandon Lewis

Coming into the season, Andrew McNally and Tim Rooney both set a season goal to become All-Americans.

Unfortunately for them, they did not even get to compete on the third and final day of the NCAA tournament.

McNally and Rooney represented Kent State wrestling two weeks ago in the NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For both, it was their first time competing in the tournament.

McNally, the No. 17 seed at 184, went 1-1 in the tournament Thursday, falling to No. 16 Corey Hazel of Lock Haven 9-3 before defeating No. 32 Bob Coleman of Oregon State, 6-0. Friday, McNally wrestled his final match of the season, losing to No. 2 Shakur Rasheed of Penn State, 9-1. McNally finished the season with 33 wins, which is the most by a Kent State wrestler since Dustin Kilgore won 43 matches in the 2012-13 season. He finished with 14 pins, the most in a single season for the Flashes since Jim Swetter in 2002.

McNally feels the one thing he needs to work on in the offseason is gaining strength from the bottom position.

“I think my lack of skills on bottom cost me those two matches I lost,” McNally said. “If I would have been a little stronger, it would have been harder for my opponents to hold me down. I usually stay conservative on bottom, but next year I’m going to be more aggressive and try to get back on top quickly.”

McNally feels next season will be better than this one because he will have more experience under his belt.

“I feel like my body and my wrestling needs to mature more next year,” he said. “The best way to do that is by getting into the wrestling room with coach [Shawn] Scott and keep wrestling and getting better. I’m also going to get into the weight room again with Bob Lemieux and work on getting as strong as I can.”

Coach Jim Andrassy said McNally had a nice season, but for the rest of his college career, he needs to pick a weight class and stick to it.

“He’s become the foundation of our team,”Andrassy said. “He’s a quiet leader that’s done everything we’ve asked him to do, and we’re really glad we’ve got him for two more years. What he’ll need to figure out for the offseason is whether he’s going to go down to 174 or become a bigger, stronger 184-pounder.”

Rooney went home Thursday night after losing both of his matches. Rooney earned a spot at 133 pounds after winning three out of his four matches in the MAC Championship tournament. For the No. 28 seed in the tournament, Rooney said he felt he should have performed a lot better.

“Going into both of my matches, I felt great,” he said. “Once I got onto the mat though, I just did not wrestle well at all. On bottom, I got thrown around a lot.”

Rooney said the tournament was a lesson learned for him.

“Now I know what I need to work on to get better next year,” he said. “I cannot wait to work with coach [Danny] Mitcheff on exploding up from bottom and getting more strength, so I can be more successful and have a more well-rounded attack.”

Rooney said he learned this season to not let the little things bother him.

“The season is long,” he said. “It’s all about the grind of the season. Things aren’t always going to go your way all the time. Injuries on the team can happen, so you have to be ready to move up or down a weight class if need be, and you have to be able to fight through adversity.”

Andrassy said Rooney just getting to the tournament is an accomplishment for him.

“He fought hard,” Andrassy said. “I think for him getting to the tournament was important. I think it will really help him next year because now that he’s been at the tournament, he can learn how to win in the tournament instead of focusing on getting there.”

As the season comes to an end, Andrassy has his eye on the future.

“I know last year at this time we thought we’d be a top 20 team before injuries and everything else hit,” he said. “We were able to get a lot of young guys experience and with next year’s recruiting class, we’re looking forward to seeing how much better we can be.”

Brandon Lewis covers wrestling. Contact him at [email protected]