Wrestling streaks with seven straight wins

Kent+State+fifth+year+wrestler+Tyler+Buckwalter+flips+a+wrester+from+Old+Dominion+University+during+a+meet+at+the+MACC+on+Jan.+24%2C+2016.+The+Flashes+won+the+Meet+25-13.

Kent State fifth year wrestler Tyler Buckwalter flips a wrester from Old Dominion University during a meet at the MACC on Jan. 24, 2016. The Flashes won the Meet 25-13.

Dan Armelli

The Kent State wrestling team had a week off last week to prepare for a brutal back-to-back road trip against Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa.

Coach Jim Andrassy said the whole team benefited from the break last weekend, being able to get healthy and stay hungry.

It showed as the Flashes swept the weekend with 21-12 and 22-13 wins.

“It’s a grind when you’re doing what we’re doing,” Andrassy said. “Giving the guys a weekend off to not have to worry about it, it’s almost like it fills you back up with gas. It gives you a weekend to fill back up. Our guys wrestled really hard this weekend.”

The No. 19 Flashes extended their winning streak to seven and are now 13-3 with a 6-1 in-conference record.

Working on a winning streak of his own was fifth-year senior 157-pounder Ian Miller, who is a perfect 19-0 on the season.

Andrassy said there is no doubt this is Miller’s best chance to win a national title this year.

“That’s his goal. That’s our goal. That’s everyone on our team’s goal for him,” Andrassy said. “I think he needs to get in a little better shape still and just keep doing what he’s doing.”

Four other Flashes were able to go a perfect 2-0 over the weekend: fifth-year senior 149-pounder Mike DePalma, fifth-year senior 165-pounder Tyler Buckwalter, fifth-year senior 184-pounder Cole Baxter and redshirt freshman 197-pounder Kyle Conel.

Sophomore 174-pounder Jairod James won his only match on Saturday night, his second MAC win in as many starts this year.

DePalma was able to get bonus points in both of his matches, each via major decision.

Conel stayed undefeated in dual meets this year, with one of his wins coming over the Huskies’ No. 16 Shawn Scott.

Senior 133-pounder Mack McGuire won on Friday night but forfeited on Saturday night due to a concussion and knee injury.

The forfeit put the Flashes in a 10-0 hole to start their dual against Northern Iowa.

A comeback win by sophomore 141-pounder Anthony Tutolo sparked a seven-match winning streak by the Flashes, putting the Panthers away before the heavyweight match.

Kent State made a couple changes to the lineup on Saturday night at 174 and heavyweight. James replaced fifth-year senior Mike Vollant, who lost on Friday.

Sophomore Stephen Suglio replaced redshirt freshman Devin Nye. Both lost their respective matches this weekend.

“We think that going into this that James could be our guy,” Andrassy said. “At heavyweight, it’s more of a matchup. We felt that Suglio had the best chance to win today. He actually wrestled the guy really well today.”

Suglio won the first period 2-0 and was tied 3-3 going into the third period before eventually losing to No. 16 Blaize Cabell.

As for who will be starting at 174 and heavyweight going forward, Andrassy said one of two things will happen.

“We’re going to get through these next few matches,” he said. “Then we’re going to go into the MAC Tournament, and we’re either going to do a wrestle-off, or the coaches are going to have to make some sort of decision on who we’re going to want.”

The Flashes will wrestle in their final dual meets of the season at 1 p.m. Sunday Feb. 14 against Central Michigan and Edinboro at the M.A.C. Center.

Dan Armelli is a sports reporter for The Kent Stater, contact him at [email protected]