Action-packed winter break for KSU wrestling sets tone for rest of the season


KSU wrestling

Richie Mulhall

While many college students were kicking back, sipping on eggnog and watching Christmas movies, the Kent State wrestling team had quite an eventful winter break.            

With two home dual matches and two tournaments on the road, the Flashes were hard at work competing in Old Dominion and Ohio State dual matches, as well as the annual Southern Scuffle and Virginia Tech Duals, which was the most recent of the four.

Now 7-6 overall with a 2-0 in-conference record, the Kent State wrestling team has surpassed the hard-training heart of the season and is approaching the lighter, yet still important dual-match part of the season.

“We’re improving and we’ve had some really good workouts,” head coach Jim Andrassy said. “We’re done with the hard training, we just need to continue to get better and correct the small things.

KSU fans may need caught up with what the Flashes did over break, so here is a general recap of what you missed while you were away:

Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013

Kent State 38, Buffalo 3:

The Flashes kicked off their Mid-American Conference competition in a big way when they thrashed the rebuilding Buffalo Bulls 38-3 in the squad’s first home match of the season.

Kent State sophomore Alfredo Gray dropped the opening match at the 125-pound class, but the forecast for the remainder was anything but foreboding for the Flashes. One match later, sophomore and 133-pounder Mack McGuire’s 5-0 victory via decision began a chain reaction that triggered nine straight wins.

“It was a great way to start our MAC competition,” Andrassy said. “We were wrestling a team that really isn’t as good as us, but if you watched how we controlled the pace of the match, I thought we wrestled pretty well.”

Every Kent State wrestler from 133 to 285 pounds was the aggressor in their respective matches, which sparked from McGuire’s shutout win.

After McGuire’s victory, the Flashes scored three consecutive pins from 141 to 157 pounds.

At 141, junior Tyler Small found himself down 3-2 going into the second period. Small worked from the bottom position to start the second and fought out of it quickly to score the clutch two-point reversal. Small now had the lead on the scoreboard, but it wouldn’t matter anyway.

Small put his man into a cradle position and pinned him with 15 seconds remaining in the period to give his squad the 6-point swing and 9-3 advantage.

“My wrestling is a lot of scrambles and sticky situations, getting into them, getting out of them, sometimes putting into them, but I feel comfortable in a lot of those spots,” Small said.

Sophomores Mike DePalma and Ian Miller kept Kent State’s win streak alive at 149 and 157 pounds respectively by racking up pins of their own. DePalma really made an impact in his M.A.C. Center debut when he pinned his Buffalo opponent just over two minutes into the opening round.

Miller recorded his seventh pin of the season and 27th pin of his career at the 2:24 mark in his bout.

The Flashes scored 38 unanswered points, three pins and one technical fall in a momentous MAC win and M.A.C. Center debut. Andrassy said his team will win a lot of dual matches against teams like Buffalo, but in order for them to keep winning all season long, the wrestlers from the 133-pound weight class to the 184-pound weight class will have to continue to step up.

“For us to be successful, our 41, 49, 57, 74, 84 guys need to come through for our team,” Andrassy said.



Max Soria (UB) won by decision over Alfredo Gray (KSU) 9-7


Mackenzie McGuire (KSU) won by decision over Justin Farmer (UB) 5-0


Tyler Small (KSU) won by pin over Nick Flannery (UB) 4:45


Michael Depalma (KSU) won by pin over Ryan Todora (UB) 2:10


Ian Miller (KSU) won by pin over John Northrup (UB) 2:24


Tyler Buckwalter (KSU) won by decision over Wally Maziarz (UB) 8-2


Caleb Marsh (KSU) won by tech fall over Jarred Lux (UB) 4:16 16-0


Sam Wheeler (KSU) won by decision over Anthony Lock (UB) 11-7


Cole Baxter (KSU) won by decision over Angelo Malvestuto (UB) 6-3


Mimmo Lytle (KSU) won by decision over James Benjamin (UB) 10-5

Monday, December 16, 2013

Kent State 25, Old Dominion 7:

The Kent State wrestling team continued to plow through MAC competition in December with another conference victory over the Old Dominion.

The team earned its fifth consecutive MAC dual with a 25-7 drubbing of Old Dominion, a team Andrassy called the first real test for the Flashes in regard to duals.

Sophomore 165-pounder Cole Baxter scored a pinfall at the 1:54 mark in his match to put the dagger in the Big Blues and culminate the Flashes’ string of victories from 149 to 197.

Kent State’s amazing sequence of victories, a common trend of this 2013-2014 season so far, began at 149 with DePalma. After a scoreless first period, DePalma earned a three-point near fall, an escape and takedown en route to the 7-1 decision that gave his team the momentum it needed to pull away from Old Dominion.

Andrassy said he thought his team wrestled better than they did all season. The win against Old Dominion gave Kent State confidence, something it would need the following match as the Flashes got set to host their toughest test of the season: the Ohio State Buckeyes.



Jerome Robinson (ODU) won by decision over Edilberto Vinas (KSU) 2-0.


Mackenzie McGuire (KSU) won by decision over Scott Festejo (ODU) 9-6


Chris Mecate (ODU) won by decision over Tyler Small (KSU) 5-0


Michael Depalma (KSU) won by decision over Alexander Richardson (ODU) 7-1


Ian Miller (KSU) won by decision over Tristan Warner (ODU) 7-2


Tyler Buckwalter (KSU) won by major decision over Marcus Johnson (ODU) 16-3


Caleb Marsh (KSU) won by decision over Billy Curling (ODU) 5-3


Sam Wheeler (KSU) won by decision over Austin Coburn (ODU) 5-3


Cole Baxter (KSU) won by pin over Kevin Beazley (ODU) 1:54



Matt Tourdot (ODU) won by decision over Mimmo Lytle (Kent State) 3-1


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kent State 6, Ohio State 27:

On a chilly night in the middle of December, Kent State fans packed the M.A.C. Center to see their team face the state’s most beloved college sports team: the Ohio State Buckeyes.

And the Buckeyes did not come to the M.A.C. Center alone; they brought their fans, too.

With a home field advantage in doubt, Kent State’s two-match winning streak came to a screeching halt when the Flashes hit a wall in the form of No. 9 Ohio State.

Five of the eight matches Kent State lost were decided by two points or less, which made the difference in Ohio State’s less-than-decisive victory. Most of the matches were close, but the end result appeared lopsided.

After the match, Andrassy stressed that his team needs to find ways to win in tight matches in which a point or two can be difference between winning or losing.

“We lost almost every close match, and for us to be a team that’s comparable to Ohio State, we have to win those close ones,” Andrassy said. “There was an overtime [match], three one-point matches we lost, so if you win those, it’s a different match.”

Arguably the most exciting match of the night was the 133-pound bout between McGuire and No. 8 sophomore Johnni DiJulius.

After a scoreless first period, McGuire rode out DiJulius for a while in the second period and it was a sprawling battle in the third. With the score tied at one a piece, the match went into overtime as fans decked in scarlet and grey and blue and yellow cheered for an encore.

McGuire said he expected to win the match, but focused too much on avoiding DiJulius’s notoriously patented front headlock and not enough on his own wrestling. He said he needs to improve and learn how to win close matches in order to compete with top ranked opponents like DiJulius.

“I don’t want to hang with the best, I want to beat the best,” McGuire said. “I don’t want to just go in there saying, ‘I was close to almost beating a good kid.’ I want to beat that good kid.”

In overtime, a two-point reversal from DiJulius gave him the narrow 3-1 edge. After the match, fans from both sides gave the two a standing ovation for the spectacle they just witnessed.

At the end of the night, Miller and sophomore Tyler Buckwalter were the sole victors for the Flashes with back-to-back wins.

The team regrouped for their next match, which was the Southern Scuffle on New Year’s Day.



Nick Roberts (OSU) won by tech fall over Del Vinas (KSU) 4:34 16-0



Johnni DiJulius (OSU) won in tie breaker 1 over Mack McGuire (KSU) 3-1



Logan Stieber (OSU) won by major decision over Tyler Small (KSU) 10-0



Ian Paddock (OSU) won by decision over Mike Depalma (KSU) 11-6



Ian Miller (KSU) won by decision over Randall Languis (OSU) 11-4



Tyler Buckwalter (KSU) won by decision over Joe Grandominico (OSU) 9-5



Mark Martin (OSU) won by decision over Caleb Marsh (KSU) 4-2



Kenny Courts (OSU) won by decision over Sam Wheeler (KSU) 11-10



Nick Heflin (OSU) won by decision over Cole Baxter (KSU) 3-2



Nick Tavanello (OSU) won by decision over Mimmo Lytle (KSU) 3-1


Wednesday, January 1 – Thursday, January 2, 2014

Kent State placed seventh out of 35 teams in the Southern Scuffle

Looking to bounce back from its debacle against the Buckeyes, the Flashes competed in the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn. and began the new year on a good note with a seventh-place finish in the 35-team field.

After the first day of competition, Kent State sat in eighth place with 31 points. Miller, McGuire, Small and sophomore 184-pounder Sam Wheeler all went unbeaten and advanced to the quarterfinals.

In what Andrassy called “the toughest tournament [they] compete in,” Miller and Wheeler both pulled off big upsets and placed second and third in their respective weight classes. Tyler Small finished sixth in the 141 division and McGuire secured a seventh-place spot at 133.

Miller, the No. 6 seed in the tournament, went 4-1 on the weekend with a pin and three decisions. His greatest accomplishment of the tournament by far was when he pinned redshirt junior Dylan Ness of Minnesota in just 45 seconds. Ness was ranked No. 3 by InterMat going into the tournament, while Miller was ranked below him at No. 8.

Andrassy said Miller took down Ness, cradled him up and pinned him all in one motion.

After Miller clinched a spot in the finals, he settled for silver when he dropped his last match of the day to top-seeded sophomore Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State 2-1 in overtime.

Andrassy said Miller was the aggressor in his finals match, but just couldn’t pick the right spot for a takedown. Miller is now 17-2 this season. His 28 career pins also puts him in fourth Kent State’s career leaders in pins.

“I think he’s a top four or five guy right now,” Andrassy said of Miller. “I think the goal for him right now is to be a top one or two guy and get him into the finals somehow.”

Taking on the No. 8 seed at 184, Wheeler lost his quarterfinal match to two-time national champion and senior Ed Ruth of top ranked Penn State. Shortly after the setback, Wheeler rebounded with a 16-3 major decision over redshirt sophomore and No. 5 seed Missouri. Two matches later, Wheeler achieved an even bigger upset when he topped No. 2 seeded redshirt senior Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota 6-4.

Andrassy said Wheeler, who did not look so sharp in the dual against Ohio State, is wrestling better and coming into his own. He is now 19-3 on the season.

“I think what we’re finding out is that a lot of it with him is just confidence and believing in himself,” Andrassy said of Wheeler. “He’s done a good job.”

Andrassy was happy with the performances of Miller, Wheeler, Small and McGuire, but has a bit of concern about the other six starters.

“We gotta get our other six starters to do as well as they possibly can,” Andrassy said. “We’re improving, but if we don’t win matches we need more out of DePalma, [Cole] Baxter, Buckwalter and [Caleb] Marsh.”

The Flashes will return this Sunday to host North Carolina State in the second annual Beauty and the Beast event. Both the Kent State wrestling squad and gymnastics team will face the Wolfpack. The event is set to begin at 2 p.m.  

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].