Expectations heighten as wrestling team heads into Eastern Michigan Duals

Richie Mulhall

The Kent State wrestling team (0-3) will travel to Ypsilanti, Mich. Sunday to take on Gardner-Webb, Michigan and Campbellsville in the annual Eastern Michigan Duals.

A tiebreaker made the difference last weekend at the Hokie Duals in Kent State’s first match against host Virginia Tech. The Flashes split 10 matches with the Hokies, resulting in an 18-18 tie, but by the NCAA third criteria tiebreaking rule, Virginia Tech seized the one-point edge and the victory.

Kent State lost its momentum and faced an even bigger setback when it dropped two more matches to Rider and Virginia.

After the Flashes’ disappointing 0-3 start and 29-point defeat at the hands of Virginia last Sunday, head coach Jim Andrassy said the team was going to be “more disciplined as a staff, more focused, make sure all the small things are done right, exactly the way (the staff) wants them done every single moment we’re in that wrestling room.”

The coaching staff got down to business with the team this week and made sure everyone knew fully well that last weekend’s performance was not something to sneeze at, Andrassy said.

“I think we’re just always reminding kids that what they have to do and how they do it reflects how they wrestle in a match,” Andrassy said. “We’re making everyone a little more accountable.”

Andrassy has been collaborating with his assistant coaches, Josh Moore and Matt Hill, to invigorate the young team and heighten everyone’s intensity levels to prepare for the many challenges that lie ahead, including the Eastern Michigan Duals.

The wrestlers have been hard at work in the wrestling room working on their positioning, drilling, takedowns and hand-fighting before the big day in Ypsilanti.

“These are a lot things you can control, and that’s the good thing, that we can control some of them,” Andrassy said.

Andrassy said the goal for his team this weekend is to focus more on what needs to be done to win matches, including intensity, toughness and discipline, and worry less about the win/loss column.

“It’s not about winning or losing at this early in the year; it’s more about how you perform,” Andrassy said. “It’s when you don’t perform and we also lose that really bites you in the butt.”

Ending the weekend at a .500 record will definitely be a step in the right direction for the Flashes, especially after their 0-3 start in Virginia.

Sophomore Mack McGuire, who had a solid 2-1 outing at the Hokie Duals, said he did not feel his best last weekend and is still shaking off some of the rust, having not wrestled competitively since last season.

McGuire said he and his teammates got a little too big for their britches and let themselves get a little bigheaded and lazy.

“I think we realize we’re not as good as we think we are,” McGuire said. “A lot of people, we’re taking for granted how good they are, and this weekend showed (it).

“Hopefully, this weekend will show how hard our practices were this week.”

Sophomore Tyler Small, who has been an emerging leader for the Flashes, surprisingly went 0-3 last weekend and was pinned in his first match of the season. He said he psyched himself out of his matches and got too bogged-down in the hype that typically goes together with the first tournament of the season.

“I’m just going to try to wrestle my matches like I know how to wrestle them,” Small said. “I just think getting the first win will be a big confidence boost.

“As a team, I think bringing more intensity to the matches will wear on the guys that haven’t been doing so well and everyone else.”

The Eastern Michigan Open begins at 9 a.m. The Flashes will kick off their day with an opening bout against Gardner Webb at 10 a.m., followed by another match with Michigan at 11:30 a.m. Kent State will then finish off the weekend with a closing afternoon dual against Campbellsville at 2:30 p.m.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].