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‘Our goal is to continue to get better and continue to fight’: Wrestling falls to Ohio in ‘Grudge Match’ after hot start

Kandice Roberts
Kent State freshman Adan Benavidez pins Ohio University freshman Bryce Skinner during the meet on Feb. 10, 2024.

The Kent State wrestling team returned home to the M.A.C. Center and fell to the Ohio University Bobcats 34-15 on Friday.

“We have a really young team,” coach Jim Andrassy said. “We’ve never wrestled in an environment like this so hopefully we can keep up and get more used to it.”

OU cooled off the Flashes as KSU came into the competition after winning three out of four matches.

It was the first time Kent State was wrestling at home since Dec. 8.

“It was awesome, the atmosphere was so fun, that’s what I love from wrestling is just the atmosphere,” sophomore 133 lbs. Pablo Castro IV said. “I think this is the biggest crowd I’ve gotten to wrestle in since I’ve been in college and the energy in here is crazy.”

Kent State falls to 5-14 on the season. Ohio moves to 6-5. The Flashes are 1-5 against the MAC and the Bobcats are 2-3 in MAC play. They take up the bottom two spots in the MAC West Division.

Running out of steam

KSU got off to a scorching start after winning each of the first three matches in convincing fashion, putting them up 15-0.

Castro IV impressed, leaving no doubt in his pin in the first period. Castro IV only needed 2:26 to get the pin, a match he dominated from the jump, giving KSU six points.

“I took him down a few times and just felt him break,” Castro IV said. “It’s inevitable that you’re going to get tired, so it’s keeping that trust in my cardio and keeping the pace up and knowing he’d break eventually.”

“He went out and just attacked,” Andrassy said. “The biggest thing with him is not being afraid of getting tired.”

Castro IV has had quite the impressive month of wrestling, coming off a MAC wrestler of the week award Jan. 23, and has gone 5-0 since Jan. 21. Going into this match, his locked-in mindset was no different.

“We talked about how we needed to come out hot, which I think we did a good job doing,” Castro IV said. “I knew my job, I needed bonus points and I just built momentum and it carried throughout the match.”

Freshman 125 lbs. Adan Benavidez got things started with a major decision 16-4 win, giving the Flashes the first four points.

Sophomore 141 lbs. Billy Meiszner contributed five of the Flashes fifteen points in his decisive 21-2 technical fall victory.

“They did their job, they went out there and they got their bonus points,” Castro IV said. “I loved their pace and their intensity and we have to keep that up next week.”

The first three matches in the lightest weights were all KSU.

“We were better than them with the lightweights,” Andrassy said. “We knew going in that we could win those matches.”

Two of the most nail-biting matches swung OU’s way, with junior 149 lbs. Matthew Ryan coming up short 12-9.

Junior 165 lbs. Aaron Ferguson needed a point in a match knotted at seven in the final seconds. He had a near takedown before the clock ran out but it was followed by him getting taken down, giving OU a thrilling 10-7 win.

“He (Ryan) wrestled his butt off,” Andrassy said. “He was close to getting a win, he needs to have a little more confidence. Ferguson also needs to have a little more confidence.”

Ohio dominated the rest of the match, picking up two technical falls and three falls, scoring 34 unanswered points.

“Can’t get pinned, can’t give them tech falls, you have to fight better in those positions,” Andrassy said. “All they need to do is get the three points and they’re going for the pin. It’s little situations like that where we need to coach them better.”

Although the swing matches did not favor Kent today, they look to bounce back in future matches.

“Sometimes the best guy doesn’t always win, as long as we can learn from it,” Andrassy said. “We had great teams, our guys didn’t go to their backs, we got to get better at that.”

Congrats coach!

Last Saturday at Bloomsburg, Andrassy earned his 200th career win as the coach of Kent State.

“[Well], it means I’ve been here a long time!” Andrassy said. “Kent has been really good to me, and I’ve been here long enough to accumulate some wins, there are certain wins I’ll always remember and certain losses I’ll always remember so it’s been good.”

Andrassy has spent each of the last 21 seasons as the head coach and has been a part of the Kent program since 1991, where he also picked up 106 wins as a wrestler. 

Congratulations coach and cheers to 200 more!

The final countdown

Kent State will stay at home, wrestling against Central Michigan Feb. 16 at the M.A.C. Center at 7 p.m.

CMU is 6-6 and 4-1 in MAC play. 

The Flashes will wrestle two more times before the end of the season and the MAC championships.

“Everyone is going to be banged up, tired, and it’s just about going out there and doing your job on the team and just doing what you can control,” Castro IV said.

Sitting at 5-14 on the season, KSU continues to fight hard and take things one step at a time.

“I’m just worried about doing my part on the team and hopefully the guys feel the same way,” Castro IV said. “Hopefully we can build momentum off the gun and just keep it going throughout the match and win those swing matches.”

“Our goal is to continue to get better and continue to fight,” Andrassy said. “We do need to wrestle better in a few situations and that’s our goal; just to get better every week.” 

Andrew Gold is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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