Kent State looking for breakout season with mix of older and younger wrestlers


Mack McGuire tries to escape the hold of Northern Illinois’ Jordan Northrup during their meet in the M.A.C. Center on Friday, Feb. 13, 2015.

Dan Armelli

From 2005 to 2013, the Kent State wrestling team had eight consecutive years of either going undefeated or having one loss in the Mid-American Conference.

Things changed when Missouri, Northern Iowa, and Old Dominion joined the MAC for 2013-2014.

It’s a budget thing

The last two years the Flashes have gone 4-4 in the MAC, with overall records below .500. Kent State was ranked sixth in the preseason MAC polls this season. Despite what from the outside seems to be a dip in performance, coach Jim Andrassy says his team has performed well within the conference.

“I think we’ve been really, really competitive within the MAC schools,” Andrassy said. “And when I say ‘really competitive’ we won it two years and last year we were first and second within the core MAC teams. So to say we’re in the middle of the pack, we are, but our hope is to get out of that area.”

Andrassy noted the new schools budgets are what makes it extra tough to stay atop the MAC.

“It makes it very challenging for us to make that next step,” he said. “People don’t want to hear about budgets and this and that, but the bottom line is that when you have facilities and you have budgets and you’re trying to compete with other schools, it makes it much more difficult for schools like us.”

The old guys and the new guys

The Flashes have what seems to be a healthy mix of successful upperclassmen and underclassmen looking to make an impact this season.

Fifth-year senior Ian Miller, senior Mack McGuire, junior Mimmo Lytle and senior Mike DePalma top off the veteran group for Kent State.

Miller, a two-time All-American, lit up when talking about the new wrestlers.

“The incoming freshmen, they’re giving me fits right now,” Miller said. “I’m trying to figure out how to wrestle those guys. It’s good for me; I need it. I love how they push me.”

Sophomore Anthony Tutolo (125-pound weight class) says the older wrestlers have been good at leading by example.

“Coming in as a freshman last year, I had a very good look at how things ran and how things worked,” Tutolo said. “It was really easy to grasp that concept and work hard and figure out how to get better: doing extra things and working out extra. Now it’s our turn to carry it on, break into that lineup, help them get better and improve as a team.”

Andrassy said the younger wrestlers have shown great intensity.

“It’s a good group of kids,” Andrassy said. “I think there’s good leadership among the younger guys, which is always great to see. It’s just one of those things where you can tell they come in and they want to get better.”


Unlike many other sports, individual success isn’t necessarily linked with team success. Andrassy said it is always tough to push a team mentality because the great wrestlers need to be a little bit selfish.

“To have a good mix of kids that are selfish and also want the team to do well, it’s hard to find,” he said. “The team that we have now is as close as we’ve ever come to that in quite a few years, since our years with (Dustin) Kilgore, (Nic) Bedelyon, (Stevie) Mitcheff, (Drew) Lashaway and (Jermail) Porter; all those guys on one team.”

Andrassy said while it is a challenge to get wrestlers to think that way, he likes the chances of this group being able to have that same philosophy. He noted that Kent State has had a pretty good track record recently to mold his wrestlers.

“We have the eleventh longest streak of consecutive All-Americans in the nation … which is pretty good and something I’m proud of. If you look at the teams that are in front of us: Penn State, Ohio State, Nebraska, you list these teams and they’re all big-time schools with big-time budgets,” Andrassy said. “So it’s something I’m real proud of because we’re able to take guys and get them to wrestle at the highest level.”

Miller, a three-time MAC champion who has fourth and fifth place finishes at the NCAA Championships, said his motivation this year is to get an NCAA title.

“It’s been my goal every year and I’ve come up short,” Miller said. “It’s my last year so I have to go out big.”

Miller admits that while he has eyes on the NCAA championships, he is always focused on the match in front of him.

“I always take it one match at a time, but my main focus is NCAA’s and that big stage,” Miller said. “It’s always in the back of my head. I’m always focused on one match at a time because if you get caught up thinking about five matches ahead or ‘I have this guy later on,’ your head won’t be there in the match against any MAC wrestler. They’re all tough and you can’t just get your head focused on one guy.”

Tutolo, one of two two-time high school state champions on the roster (with Lytle), was pleased with the way he recovered after last year.

“Last year didn’t really go the way I wanted it to, and it ended really well with me taking sixth at University Nationals,” Tutolo said. “Now I’m itching to get into that lineup, just break through, and get to the top. That’s where I want to be, and I strive for it every day. That’s why I come here, workout, do extra work just to get there. I’m ready for it. I’m itching for competition.”


The Flashes will hold their intra-squad wrestle-offs 5 p.m. on Saturday at the M.A.C. Annex.

Andrassy said the event does a few key things for him and his wrestlers.

“One, you need to find out who your number one guy is,” Andrassy said. “Not necessarily your best guy, but who your number one guy is right now for the first duals, which we have the following week. But also it gets our guys used to making weight. It gets the to weigh in, it gets them in a singlet wrestling outside of this room in a public environment, which is much different than (the wrestling) room.”

Andrassy noted that there are some wrestlers that wrestle great in the wrestling room, but poor in front of the public and vice versa.

“I have a few guys that wrestle horrible in this room that wrestle really well out in the public, which is a great thing, because you want to be able to see it out in a match setting,” he said. “You have a few weight classes where, it could be person ‘A’ or person ‘B’ and going in to make it fair for them, you have got to find out who that person is going into that first week. After that, you can start evaluating who your best guys are after you see them in public and who the best guy is.”

Andrassy acknowledges that it isn’t always easy to choose who will be in the lineup at the beginning of the year.

“Sometimes who I think the best guy is isn’t always going to come out that way after wrestle-offs. Ultimately, I’m the head wrestling coach; I make hard decisions. Sometimes you have to make decisions that aren’t apparent outside that are apparent in the wrestling room.”

Contact Dan Armlli at [email protected].