Kent State wrestling falls to Buffalo despite strong showing from underclassmen

Kent State’s Shane Mast wrestles against Buffalo’s Brett Perry on Jan. 26.

Brandon Lewis

Kent State wrestling freshman Kade Byland, sophomore Andrew McNally and redshirt freshman Kody Komara were all victorious on Saturday, but the Flashes could not pull out a win against the Buffalo Bulls.

The loss dropped the Flashes’ record to 6-12.

Byland pinned the Bulls’ Jake Lanning with 1:12 remaining in the first period. For Byland, it was his first career win in the M.A.C. Center, and the fact that his first home win was via a pin was a dream come true.

“It feels amazing,” Byland said. “You don’t understand how nervous I was, so to get that pin was amazing. I wasn’t worried about the pin so much as I was the win, but being able to get a pin in my first MAC dual start is incredible.”

Coach Jim Andrassy not only loved the way Byland’s pin took place, but he loved the timing of the pin, too.

“He got inside his head,” Andrassy said. “He’s pretty quick on top, so he just drove the guy down on his back and pinned him. I’m really proud of him. He stepped up for the team and gave us a chance to win the dual going into 97, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Andrew McNally picked up another victory for the Flashes, earning his 26th victory on the season and his eighth major decision, both of which led the team. After the dual, Andrassy said if McNally keeps this pace going, he’ll be in the NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh come March.

“Right now he’s ranked 18th in the coaches’ poll in the country, which at this point gets him into the national tournament,” he said. “We’re just gonna keep winding him up and sending him out. He wrestled a really smart match.”

After a close loss last week against Ohio, Komara defeated Jason Estevez, 3-1, in the fourth match, giving Kent State its first victory of the dual. Komara said he learned from last week’s loss and was looking forward to getting back on a winning streak.

“I wanted to make sure I wrestled all seven minutes,” Komara said. “Just making sure I stay in position, hand fight while I’m tired. In wrestling, you never get a rest, so I wanted to make sure I pushed through this time, and thankfully, I did.”

Andrassy thought Komara couldn’t have wrestled any better.

“I think that’s the best match he’s ever wrestled at the Kent State singlet so far,” he said. “It was against a good quality kid. He’s got a long way to go. He’s a freshman. He’s gonna have his ups and downs. You gotta learn how to win matches like that. He learned today, and hopefully he can translate this victory into something special.”

Although Kent State did not win any more matches, sophomore Tim Rooney had a good showing, losing in overtime with the loss extending his losing streak to five matches. Rooney said he wrestled more free this week, but he needs to learn how to finish.

“Today, I was in on seven or eight attempts, and then even in overtime, I just felt something I haven’t felt in a long time,” Rooney said. “Immediately in overtime, I went for an unorthodox overthrow, and I ended up getting it, but it didn’t pay off. … I need to focus on getting to the attacks stronger next time, keep my head up and look for the finish rather than getting to the legs. Shooting through my opponents rather than shooting through them.”

Andrassy echoed Rooney’s statement.

“I think the kid wanted to win more than Rooney did,” he said. “You know, first period it was an even match, and the guy wanted to win more in the third period. You gotta want to win more than the other guy sometimes.”

Kent State looks to get back in the winning column next Friday at 7 p.m. when the team travels to the Wolstein center to take on Cleveland State.

Brandon Lewis a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].