Kent State wrestling gears up for Navy Classic, hopes to repeat as winners


Kent State defeated Clarion 20-10 on Jan. 20, 2013 in the MACC. Photo by Adrianne Bastas.

Richie Mulhall

The Kent State wrestling team will head to Annapolis, Md. on Saturday for the 36th annual Navy Classic, which will take place inside the Wesley Brown Field House.

Eastern Michigan Duals Success

The Flashes are coming off a great showing at last weekend’s Eastern Michigan Duals, an event highlighted by Kent State’s 18-17 upset victory against No. 20 Michigan. Two weeks ago, Flashes head coach Jim Andrassy said he did not expect his team to surprise anyone going into the duals, but that is exactly what happened last Saturday inside the Eastern Michigan Convocation Center.

The Flashes came into the duals as an 0-3 underdog and proved they can hang with the best wrestling teams in the country. Kent State put up a 3-0 day, knocking off the Wolverines by a narrow, one-point margin.

“I saw consistency with doing things the right way the whole time,” Andrassy said. “We’re getting these young guys to understand what it takes to win at this level.”

The Flashes and Wolverines each won five matches in the dual, but sophomore 157-pounder Ian Miller’s 22-5 technical fall win was just enough for Kent State to triumph against Michigan by one point.

“We wrestled a really good team,” Miller said. “We had guys really know what we had to do, and we went out there and did it against Michigan.”

In its other two matches last weekend, Kent State thrashed Gardner-Webb 42-4 and Campbellsville 32-9. The Flashes boosted their record to an even 3-3 record on the season and bounced back from the 0-3 debacle they had two weeks ago in their opening tournament of the season.

Sophomore Mike DePalma, who’s coming off a 3-0 weekend, said he now feels more relaxed and happy that things started clicking for him in the Eastern Michigan Duals.

“My entire aspect of wrestling (changed),” DePalma said. “The weekend before, I was wasn’t defending at all, I wasn’t attacking. This weekend, I was on everything, I was on my attacks, my defense, I kept my motions going, I attacked from every position.”

Sophomore Sam Wheeler also went 3-0 last weekend with a pair of major decisions and was named the Kent State Student-Athlete of the Week.

Teams to watch out for

Kent State’s victory over Michigan came as a bit of a surprise to a lot of people, but Andrassy said because the squad this year is composed of a lot of good tournament wrestlers such as junior Tyler Small, lightning could very well strike as Kent State continues to face formidable opponents this weekend in the forms of Ohio, Bucknell, Chattanooga, West Virginia, Princeton and No. 7 Wisconsin.

“There’s some good teams here, so it all comes down to having a few winners and have some guys make the finals and making sure the other guys can place,” Andrassy said. “It’s a team effort here.”

Andrassy said this weekend’s matches will be a good benchmark that gauges where the Flashes are in the season compared with other teams, in particular how they match up with their Mid-American Conference rival Ohio, the team selected as the preseason favorite to win the MAC Championship.

“If you get guys that score points in tournaments and make it to the finals by winning semifinal matches, that’s where you’re gonna score your points, so if we can get two or three guys in the finals, I think we can win this tournament.”

Looking at the past

Last season, in a close tournament that went down to the wire, Kent State narrowly edged out Navy 115.5-109.5 to win the 35th annual Navy Classic. Four Flashes each won individual titles that day as well, including junior Caleb Marsh, who at the time was wrestling at 165 pounds.

He went 4-0 in his first competition of the season en route to securing Kent State’s tournament crown.

The reigning Navy Classic champions will take to that mat Saturday with the action set to begin at 10 a.m. and the final round scheduled for 5 p.m.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected] .