KSU wrestling tries to find positives as losses mount

Samantha Ross

This season hasn’t been one of the best for the Kent State wrestling team, as they currently hold a 2-14 overall record to go along with a 0-7 conference record. 

“Last year, arguably, it was the best team we’ve had in the program’s history,” coach Jim Andrassy said. “The combination of being ranked 16th and placing 15th is the best combination we’ve ever had.” 

Last year the Flashes had eight seniors graduate, seven of which were starters. This year they have a whole new lineup that only consists of two starters from last year, Anthony Tutolo and Devin Nye. 

“Anthony’s been hurt, still don’t know when he’s going to wrestle, and Devin has been hurt a good portion of the year, too. So we literally went with a whole new starting lineup,” Andrassy said.

The Flashes have a young team this year, which, according to Andrassy, is one of the reasons as to why the team is having a tougher year.

“Its been really hard and what makes it harder is that we’re working really really hard to get through it and we’re not quite seeing the results right now, but you just have to have that faith and that belief that it’s going to pay off down the road,” Chance Driscoll said.  

The team brought on ten freshman wrestlers this season. Cory Simpson, 125-pounder, is the only freshman in the lineup due to him being the only one at the 125 pound weight.

Andrassy thinks that Dylan Barreiro and Lane Hinkle are two freshmen that have good futures ahead of them, but believes it was best to redshirt them this year.

“We didn’t think that they were ready to come in and compete right away,” Andrassy said.  “Sometimes when you throw guys out to the wolves it kind of sets you back even farther than just being able to train and focus on getting better. The object is to let them train and get better and hopefully next year they can step in the lineup and do great things for us.”

Currently, Barreiro is 17-14 and Hinkle is 23-9. They wrestled in their first college tournament at the Clarion Open, where Barreiro went 3-2 and Hinkle went 4-2. The two are only able to compete in open tournaments due to the their redshirt status, however, and aren’t allowed to have a coach in their corner.

“We’re still doing things right now that we do early on in the season,” Andrassy said. “We’ve adjusted for the talent that we have on the team.” 

Staying positive is one of the toughest things to do, according to Andrassy.

“Going into this year I think we had a vision and we had a lot of uncertain events that happened that we couldn’t control,” said Andrassy. “You remove Jariod James, Kyle Conel and you take away Anthony Tutolo from most of the program and we expected great things from those three guys and now we don’t even have them. Ultimately, we had some circumstances that we didn’t want, but it’s what we were dealt with and its part of the process of how do we get better and how do we get better quicker.”

Despite all this, the team tries to find little positive things, and hope that they outshine the negatives.

One of those positives that Andrassy cited was how Casey Sparkman was vomiting five minutes before his match against Central Michigan, but didn’t want to forfeit because the Flashes had already forfeiting one weight class.

 “I think that’s a positive thing that you can look at and say alright here’s a kid that doing everything he can for the team because if it was if it was himself he wouldn’t be wrestling,” Andrassy said.

“We definitely lost more this year than we did last year, but the team’s improving as time goes on, and that’s really what we’re trying to get done now,” Sparkman said.

According to Driscoll, the team is making more of an effort to support one another not just at meets and tournaments, but also in the practice room.

“In the room, if you have a bit of knowledge to drop on somebody about a technique or position, you give that right away,” Driscoll said. “It doesn’t matter if that guys competing for the same spot with you or what it may be if he’s two weight classes lighter than you or two weight classes heavier than you, we’re always trying to make each other better in here.”

 Sparkman reiterated that fact that the team is together both in and out of the wrestling room.

“We’ll go out and play football or basketball so we’re always moving and staying active we’re not just resting all the time,” Sparkman said. “We’re really trying to get better and change the mindset of the team so we’re not down on ourselves all the time. I’ve never really been on a team where we lose every dual meet, but we have a lot of young guys that haven’t really tasted the success yet so we’re just trying to get everyone feeling it.”

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