Winter break sports recap

Henry Palattella

The beginning of the spring semester is the tangible embodiment of a fresh start full of new opportunities. This rings true for the mentalities of Kent State’s on-campus sports teams. Some teams went into the winter break with momentum that they have since lost, while others limped into the break, but have since made advancements. 

Football: While Kent State’s football team hasn’t taken the field since October, that doesn’t mean the Flashes haven’t been in the news. On the current student side, senior defensive back Najee Murray played in the Tropical Bowl this past Sunday. But this break wasn’t just about current members of the football team, as several former Flashes have made their mark in the NFL playoffs as well.

Former Kent State quarterback Julian Edelman once again showed why he’s New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite receiver, as he amassed 137 yards on eight receptions in the Patriots’ 34-16 win over the Houston Texans.

Former Flash James Harrison left his imprint on the Steelers’ wild-card victory over the Dolphins, as he recorded a big strip sack that halted a Dolphins drive that was deep in Steeler territory. Former Flash Roosevelt Nix is also a member of the Steelers.

Men’s basketball: Winter break was a period of highs and lows for the Kent State men’s basketball team. Break started with the Flashes recording a 63-58 win over Texas, which marked the first time that the Flashes beat a power five team since 2012. The Flashes have struggled since, and are coming out of break. Look at Sports reporter Nick Buzzelli’s article for a more in-depth look at the men’s team.

Women’s Basketball: The Kent State Women’s basketball team – much like the men’s team – dealt with some serious highs and lows over break. But what makes the women’s team’s different situation different is that they’ll be going into the semester riding a high as compared to a low.

The Flashes started break off by dropping games to both Minnesota University and Iowa University, and then starting the conference schedule off with losses to both Central Michigan University and Ball State University. The Flashes very well might have saved their season in the next game, however, as they recorded a big 86-67 win over Eastern Michigan. Not only was this their first conference win, but it was also a small dose of payback for the Flashes, who have had their past two seasons ended by losing to Eastern Michigan in the MAC tournament. 

The Flashes followed that up with a tough 98-97 loss at home to Northern Illinois University that very well may be viewed as another turning point for the Flashes. Both head coach Todd Starkey and star senior Larissa Lurken were visibly displeased after the Flashes loss, so much so that Lurken called the loss “one of the toughest in her time at Kent State.”

The Flashes followed that loss up by traveling to Athens to take on MAC East favorite Ohio University, which very well could have been too much for some teams. That wasn’t the case for the Flashes, who forced the Bobcats to commit 22 turnovers en route to a 68-65 upset, which gives them tons of momentum going into the semester.

Gymnastics: The gymnastics team started their season this past Saturday when they traveled to Columbus to take on Ohio State University, Michigan University and Washington University. The Flashes ended up coming in last, but that didn’t stop Junior gymnast Rachel Stypinski from earning her first career all-around title. Check for a complete recap from the weekend. 

Wrestling: The Wrestling team had an eventful winter break as well, as they competed in seven individual meets and one tournament. The Flashes started the weekend off with back to back home losses to Gardner-Webb and Chattanooga, which was followed by a 43-4 loss to MAC opponent Missouri. The Flashes followed this up in a big way by coming in second in the Lock Haven Classic, a victory that was spearheaded by sophomores Casey Sparkman and Devin Nye, who both went 3-1 in the Classic.

The Flashes weren’t able to get much momentum out of those victories however, as they dropped their next three matches against Lock Haven, Virginia Tech, and Campbell. The Flashes were able to gain one last victory before break however, as they beat The Citadel 26-15 in the Virginia Duals.  

Henry Palattella is the sports editor for the Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].