Kent State wrestling sends students to MAC Championships, hope for spot in Nationals


Kent State junior Stephen Suglio battles with Oklahoma Sate red-shirt sophomore Derek White during Kent State University’s Beauty and the Beast double meet event for gymnastics and wrestling on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017.

Samantha Ross

The Kent State wrestling team (2-15, 0-8 Mid-American Conference) has spent the past week practicing hard in the hopes that they will do well at the MAC Tournament and have some wrestlers advance to the NCAA Championships.

“We think if guys can wrestle like they did (at Old Dominion University) at the MAC Tournament, we’ll have some hope to get some guys to the national tournament,” coach Jim Andrassy said.

According to Andrassy, each wrestler needs to be mentally prepared going into the MAC Tournament.

“This is the part of the season where it becomes an individual thing because you’re trying to earn a spot to the national tournament which happens individually and not as a team,” Andrassy said. “If you want the season to be over, it’s going to be over. If you go in there with the idea that this season is coming to an end and I want it to be over, you’re going to get your butt whooped, and you’re going to be done. If you go in there with the idea that I want the season to last two more weeks and you wrestle really hard, maybe you upset some guys and you can make it.”

Anthony Tutolo has been in and out of the season with a knee injury, but he will be wrestling in the MAC Tournament, and will be wrestling as a six seed.

“I’ve been out for a little bit here and there,” Tutolo said. “I’ve been doing a lot of rehab. I’ve been getting myself back to full strength or as best as I can be and everyone has been working with me. I’ve been getting a lot of extra work in the wrestling room just to get myself mentally and physically ready for it (MAC Tournament).”

Andrassy said that Tutolo still helped the team get to the tournament.

“We’ve brought one spot to the tournament, which is the least I’ve ever brought as a coach, but in the same sense, Tutolo did bring a spot,” Andrassy said. “That means if he places to his ranking and to his RPI, he will qualify, but you actually have to do that and he hasn’t wrestled in a while and we really don’t know what we’re going to get out of him once we get there.”

Casey Sparkman is seeded the highest out of all of Kent State wrestlers at No. 4. He will wrestle Ohio University’s Cullen Cummings first.

“Sparkman is really really close, he’s on the fringe, but he didn’t bring a spot, so he has to have a good tournament and either upset someone or, at that point, hope that there aren’t that many people at his weight class so that he can still get voted in,” Andrassy said.

Chance Driscoll will wrestle University of Northern Iowa’s Jake Hodges in a pigtail match, and if he wins, he will wrestle the number one seed.

“I would say every guy in the MAC Tournament at my weight is within five points of each other on any given day,” Driscoll said. “I can beat anybody in the bracket. There were a whole lot of close matches in the MAC this year and it’s going to be the guy that brings his best stuff to the MAC Tournament, is the freshest and has his mind right. That’s going to be the guy that wins and does well.”

Devin Nye is seeded No. 7. Last year at the MAC Tournament, he finished in third place.

“I’m forgetting about the season and just training,” Nye said. “You know you can’t really worry about what happened, but what’s going to happen.”

Isaac Bast, a seven seed, said that he’s trying to just think of it as another tournament. 

“I know anyone at the MAC Tournament is going to be a really tough match,” Bast said. “I know there’s a couple guys like Daniel Lewis (Missouri) and the Northern Iowa guy (Bryce Steiert) that are going to be pretty tough matches, but I look forward to them.”

According to Andrassy, one way that the team is getting ready for the MAC Tournament is by cutting down on practice time.

“You try to have them leave practice being happy and being excited for the end of the year rather than wearing them down and beating them up and pushing them,” Andrassy said. “You don’t want the kids to hate the sport at this point. We’ve been doing this since the middle of September so this is a long time to be doing this sport. At this point in the year, you want to shorten things up, keep them fresh, keep them healthy.”

The tournament will be held in Cedar Falls, Iowa, this coming Saturday and Sunday and will be televised on ESPN3.

Samantha Ross is a sports reporter, contact her at [email protected]