KSU wrestlers debut at M.A.C. Center Saturday

Richie Mulhall

The Kent State wrestling team gets a first look at Mid-American Conference competition this Saturday as it gears up to take on Buffalo at its home-opening dual.

The last time the Flashes wrestled was Saturday, Nov. 23, when they placed fourth out of 14 schools at the 36th annual Navy Classic. Since then, the team had its break for Thanksgiving, but this week, everyone was back in the wrestling room ready to work and get back down to business.

Head coach Jim Andrassy said the break for Thanksgiving rejuvenated a lot of the wrestlers.

“You can tell when kids are glad to get a break, and you can tell their bodies are revived,” Andrassy said. “They’ve looked pretty well all week.”

Andrassy and the rest of the team said they are excited to begin MAC competition, especially at home inside the M.A.C. Center.

“It definitely helps us that we’re at home because we don’t have to travel for our first MAC dual and gives us a little time to adjust to the dual season,” junior 174-pounder Caleb Marsh said. “We were in the tournament season, and now we get to rest our bodies in the dual season.”

The gang’s all here

Andrassy said this past week was the first full week all season in which everybody has been healthy.

Kent State finally has its full starting lineup back in action.

“We can start building more team unity,” Marsh said. “Winning is contagious, and now that we have everybody on the roster, if we got a couple guys winning, everybody will work harder since we’re all here.”

Sophomore 165-pounder Tyler Buckwalter, who was sidelined with a knee injury roughly two weeks before the Flashes season-opening match, is back.

“He’s still not 100 percent, but he’s doing better,” Andrassy said. “He’ll be in the lineup, which is good.”

Buckwalter said he is really excited to be back on the mat this weekend and can’t wait to jump into the mix right away. He said it was frustrating to go through all of preseason and then hit a streak of bad luck with his knee injury.

Even though Andrassy said Buckwalter is just getting back into the swing of things, he will hold nothing back come Saturday.

“I feel like I’m ready to go, and I’m 100 percent,” Buckwalter said. “I feel confident, so I’m just going to go out there and give it my all.”

M.A.C. Center debuts

Buckwalter, three other sophomores and a redshirt freshman will wrestle in their first home dual this weekend, which is exciting for them because they finally get a chance to wrestle with a hometown crowd behind them.

Alfredo Grey (125 pounds), Mike DePalma (149), Cole Baxter (197) and redshirt-freshman Mimmo Lytle (285) will join Buckwalter in making their M.A.C. Center debuts.

“I’m actually really pumped,” Grey said. “This my third year here and I’m excited to do something.”

Scouting the Bulls

Having all 10 starters on the mat this weekend should be a big boost for the Flashes as they enter their first home and conference dual of the season all at once.

“Our first MAC competition is important (because) we want to get off to a good start in the MAC,” Andrassy said. “The goal is to have everyone undefeated (in the conference).”

Andrassy said Buffalo has a new head coach and graduated a few guys, so the team is now in a rebuilding phase under new head coach and Buffalo alumnus John Stutzman.

“Stutzman has had a very reputation of rebuilding programs, so I don’t think they’re as a good as they have been, but I think, but they’ll get better as the years go by with this coach,” Andrassy said.

So far this season the Bulls are 1-2 with a couple of losses to North Carolina State and Clarion. They placed fourth out of six teams at the Oklahoma Gold Classic on Nov. 9 and seventh out of 27 teams at the New York State Collegiate Championships on Nov. 24.

Saturday’s home-opening match and Kent State’s first MAC dual will begin at noon.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].