Flashes set to host Ohio and Clarion

Richie Mulhall

The Kent State wrestling team is headed toward a big weekend as they host Mid-American Conference rival Ohio at 7 p.m. Friday and Clarion at 2 p.m. Sunday at the M.A.C. Center.

Coming off a sixth place finish as the Virginia Duals, the Flashes (4-3) are looking to bump up their 2-0 record in MAC duals Friday. Kent State is currently ranked No. 18, according to Wrestling Insider NewsMagazine.

“I think that since the Lock Haven Tournament, we’ve gotten a lot better,” head coach Jim Andrassy said. “We wrestled very well at the Virginia Duals, so I’m very excited about the [Ohio] match and very excited about our guys.”

Kent State has faced Ohio more than any other opponent. The series between these two MAC teams dates back to 1929, and it soon escalated into a rivalry a few years after Ohio Bobcat graduate Joe Begala became Kent State’s head coach. KSU leads the all-time series against Ohio 44-23 and has won the last eight meetings.

“I think our guys are gonna step up and get it done, in my opinion,” Andrassy said. “I think that [the Ohio match] is a big match for us.”

The Flashes have also recently begun a heated, non-conference rivalry with Clarion. Last season, the Clarion Golden Eagles led the Flashes 16-14, but then Kent State took the last four matches to clinch a 30-16 road victory.

Clarion leads the series 12-9, but the Flashes are looking to make it 12-10, considering they have won the last eight meets, since 2001.

The Flashes have won 17 of their last 20 dual meets at the M.A.C. Center, including a 30-6 victory over Ohio in 2011 and a 44-6 win over Clarion in 2011. In the first home dual meet of the 2012-2013 season, the Flashes dominated Northern Illinois 29-9.

“[The Ohio match] is a conference dual meet, it’s at home, and it’s really, essentially our first home dual meet,” Andrassy said. “This is our first good home dual meet, and our guys are excited about it, and I’m excited also.”

Fifth-year seniors Stevie Mitcheff and Dustin Kilgore, sophomore Caleb Marsh and redshirt freshman Sam Wheeler are just a few Kent State wrestlers who will be competing in both dual meets this weekend.

Mitcheff, 125 pounds, is coming off of a 3-2 finish at the Virginia Duals this past weekend. Mitcheff is currently ranked No. 32 in the 125-pound division, his first time ever being ranked.

“It feels pretty good to be ranked,” Mitcheff said. “I knew I was right there with the best of the guys. I believe I’ve trained hard all my life. I believed I was right there, and I think just from believing that and wrestling the way I know how to wrestle — that’s how I got there.”

Recent MAC Wrestler of the Week, Kilgore is seeking to put up another stellar performance this weekend against No. 28 Phil Wellington of Ohio and Clarion’s Justin Ortega.

Kilgore, who is ranked No. 1 in the 197-pound division, won all five of his matches last week via four pins and a forfeit. Kilgore is now 27-0 on the season and is looking to increase his career-win total to164 after this weekend.

Marsh, 165 pounds, is 14-6 this season after returning from an injury, which occurred early in the season. He is slated to wrestle No. 29 Harrison Hightower of Ohio and Clarion’s Nick Milano. Marsh already defeated Hightower earlier this season and hopes to score another victory.

Wheeler, 174 pounds, is 17-8 this season. He will square off against No. 17 Cody Walters of Ohio and Clarion’s Ryan Darch. Walters has already defeated Wheeler twice this season, but Wheeler said he feels confident about getting the win this time around.

“I’ve been working hard, and I’ve been working on a couple new things,” Wheeler said. “I feel like I’ve improved since I wrestled him last, so I’m looking for a better outcome this time.”

Live video of both duals can be seen on MAC-sports.com, and live audio streams for both duals can be heard on Golden Flashes Radio on iHeartRadio.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].