Four freshmen lead Kent State wrestling into the future


Freshman wrestler Jake Ferri prepares to grapple with an opposing wrestler. Ferri is one of four freshmen in Kent State’s starting lineup this season. 

Kayla Proctor

The Kent State wrestling team has had a season of more consistent wins and a much-improved record over last year’s, finishing the regular season with a winning record of 13-9, compared to 2016-17’s 2-15.

Contributing to this success are four starting freshmen: Jake Ferri, Colin McCracken, Dylan Barreiro and Nick Monico.

More than half of the starting lineup for the Flashes are freshmen, allowing a different perspective and constant growth for the team.

“Being a starting freshman makes you grow up fast, in a sense,” Monico said. “You have to be willing to take on responsibility and step into a bigger role, even as a young guy. You can’t have excuses about your age because everyone is counting on you.”

Starting four freshmen allows the team to take each match as a learning experience and improve for seasons to come.

“Once we keep getting really good, we’ll just keep getting better, and we will make a great team,” McCracken said.

The season has had its bumps in the road for the inexperienced wrestlers, but Barreiro said it’s all part of the process.

“Wrestling as a freshman really humbles you,” Barreiro said. “Going against upperclassmen definitely makes you learn your flaws quickly, and it makes you grow fast and work faster.”

Barreiro ended the regular season with a record of 19-17, and Monico ended with a record of 20-12. Both wrestlers are redshirt freshmen.

Ferri, who finished with a record of 11-16, and McCracken, who completed the season at 12-20, wrestle as true freshmen.

After having his redshirt pulled halfway through the season due to an injury, Ferri has been focusing on getting better and helping his team win.

“I’m confident I’m one of the hardest workers out there, and no one can match my energy, and I can really wear guys down,” Ferri said. “It’s constantly attacking and just trying to mentally break someone.”

For Ferri, the match against nationally ranked Oklahoma State ignited his passion for the sport.

“(Oklahoma State) was a crazy experience,” Ferri said. “It really just put that fire in me and got me going. It showed me that I don’t want to be anywhere else, and this is what I want to do.”

Ferri said his best match is always his next one, and he is constantly looking forward to improving.

McCracken is focused on adjusting to the jump from high school to collegiate wrestling, and cites a span of four matches in two days in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as his best experience this season.

“It’s huge going from wrestling in high school last year to wrestling at an intense level in college,” McCracken said. “It is so intense, and I’m wrestling really good guys, such as the 11 ranked guys in Florida. That was my best match. I was wrestling the entire time, and it was crazy to have an experience like that.”

For Barreiro, redshirting last year only prepared him for better competition this year.

“Starting last year, I was a redshirt freshman, and I was watching the top 20 guys wrestle,” Barreiro said. “This year I’m actually wrestling those wrestlers, and I have actually felt those guys out and know their techniques, so I know where I’m going and know where I have to get.”

Monico focused on getting wins early and is currently putting an emphasis on improving at the Flashes’ dual meets.

“Wrestling in the duals early in the year was my highlight,” Monico said. “I had some really big wins early in the year, and it was a lot of fun.”

The four freshmen all agreed they need to improve on being more offensive and aggressive, and McCracken said they need to work on “not being hesitant but going out there and taking it.”

Having such a high number of freshmen in the starting lineup means the team has four years to improve with this set of wrestlers.

“I think we have a lot of good years coming here with us,” McCracken said.  “We’re doing pretty well this year — a lot better compared to last year. Our team’s still very young, so we’ll be growing as a competing team together for a few years.”

Kayla Proctor is a sports reporter. Contact her at [email protected].