Kent State’s promising young wrestling team ready for season


Kent State hosted the NCWA National Duals last season on February 17, 2013. Kent State lost to Oklahoma State 10-34 and won against Wisconsin 33-10. Photo Melanie Nesteruk.

Richie Mulhall

Young blood runs deep in Kent State’s wrestling program this upcoming season.

The Flashes will have 14 freshmen, 15 sophomores, four juniors and one lone senior on its roster as the team braces itself for the forthcoming 2013-2014 season.

While people may say that having older, more experienced wrestlers at the helm is the ideal situation for a Division I wrestling team like Kent State, longtime head coach Jim Andrassy is excited to have a budding young team nonetheless.

“It’s real exciting to have (young) guys that are eager because some of the old guys are kind of set in their ways and real hard to change, and it’s real hard to get them to do things differently,” Andrassy said. “With young guys, you can pretty much sculpt them however you want, and down the road, you get the kids you want.”

Andrassy, who is entering his 11th season as Kent State’s head coach, said his team is practicing and training hard to get ready for their first week of competition. He said he thinks the team is better this year, but it will still take more time to develop the Flashes into heavy-hitting Mid-American Conference contenders.

Kent State finished 24th in the final team standings of the 2013 NCAA Championships, its fourth top-25 finish in the last five years.

“I think by the end of this year, we should be a better team than we were last year,” Andrassy said. “Anything less than competing for a MAC Championship I think I would be shocked.”

Despite losing five senior starters, Andrassy said he believes this season’s team will better than last season’s because sophomore 157-pounder Ian Miller and junior 141-pounder Tyler Small are stepping up to lead the team after being redshirted last season.

Miller, who won a MAC Championship and was named MAC Freshman of the year two seasons ago, said he is just as eager this season to return to the mat as he was last season.

“I’m real excited,” Miller said. “Last year was a long season, and the redshirt season was good, but I can’t wait to get back on the mat and compete for Kent.”

Junior Caleb Marsh and sophomore Sam Wheeler will also return. Last season, Marsh wrestled at 165 pounds and Wheeler was forced to cut a lot of weight to make 174 pounds. Both men will move up in weight class in order to put more focus on training.

Wheeler, who is already setting his sights on becoming an All-American at the end of the season, said he is happy with the weight jump.

“Weight cut’s not as hard as it was last year, so I’m feeling more energized and stronger,” Wheeler said. “If I don’t become an All-American, the season’s almost a failure to me.”

Andrassy said he expects big things from guys like sophomore 133-pounder Mack McGuire, Small, Miller, Marsh and Wheeler, who will pave the way for some of the younger wresters who have yet to cut their teeth in collegiate wrestling.

“All of those guys, if they’re not in the finals and competing to be All-Americans at the end of the year, I’m going to be upset,” Andrassy said.

Regarding the Flashes’ health, Andrassy said his squad is gonna get some bangs and bruises since wrestling is such a physical sport; however, he said now is not the time to worry about that, especially considering the season has not even started yet.

“Hopefully by the time we’re into our conference (schedule) … we’ll be healthy and we’ll have all our guys because that’s when it really starts,” Andrassy said.

The Flashes’ first taste of competition will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday, at the Virginia Tech Duals.

Kent State will face Virginia Tech, Rider and Virginia in the Duals.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].