Kent State (6-3, 2-0 Mid-American Conference) will carry its 2-0 MAC record to Mount Pleasant, Mich., Sunday as they take on the Central Michigan Chippewas at McGuirk Arena.
Ranked No. 19 in the nation by this week’s InterMat rankings, the Flashes head into Sunday’s action coming off two wins last weekend against Ohio and Clarion. The team has also won four of its last five duals this season, and there are more than a few KSU wrestlers on the cusp of becoming nationally ranked.
“The top 33 guys go to the national tournament,” Flashes head coach Jim Andrassy said.
“We got a lot of guys in that 33-28 range, and a good win this weekend will get them in the solid mid-20s, which will help them get to the national tournament, which is most of these guys’ ultimate goal.”
Since the 2005-2006 season, Kent State has gone 105-34-1 in dual meets, while Central Michigan is 111-34-2. During this time, the Flashes have gone 31-5-1 in MAC duals, while the Chippewas are 35-3.
Since that same season, the Golden Flashes have not lost a MAC dual to a team other than Central Michigan, going 29-0-1 against the combination of Northern Illinois, Buffalo, Ohio and Eastern Michigan. CMU leads the all-time series with Kent State 24-10.
Sunday, the road to the MAC regular season officially begins, and the competition between the Flashes and the Chippewas is expected to be intense. These two teams have dominated the MAC in recent years, and Sunday will likely mark the eighth-straight season that the KSU-CMU dual directly affects the MAC regular season champion.
“The last eight years it’s come down to us and (Central Michigan) for the MAC championship, so I guess for us it’s a rivalry,” Andrassy said. “I think that over the last five years (CMU) has been pretty competitive in dual meets. We’ve done a really good job of going up there and competing.”
Last year, Kent State’s 22-13 win at the M.A.C. Center was CMU’s only conference loss. The Flashes went on to win the MAC regular season championship with a 5-0 conference record.
The Flashes are looking to have a repeat performance of last weekend on Sunday. Last Friday and Sunday in the M.A.C. Center, five Flashes went 2-0 from a 26-11 victory over Ohio and a 29-10 win over Clarion.
Fifth-year senior Stevie Mitcheff dominated his two opponents last week and is seeking another good performance this weekend. He is currently ranked No. 33 in the nation in the 125-pound division and is 21-9 this season.
True freshman Mack McGuire made a huge impression against Ohio and Clarion when he made his MAC debut with a 9-7 overtime victory against Ohio’s Joe Munos and a pin against Clarion’s Joe Waltko. McGuire was also named Kent State’s Student Athlete of the Week this past week for his successful debut.
“Mack’s young, he’s a freshman, so I think that over time he’ll be pretty darn good,” Andrassy said.
McGuire is slated to take on No. 7 and All-American Scott Sentes of CMU Sunday. McGuire is 19-12 thus far this season, while Sentes is 10-5.
Senior and 157-pounder Tommy Sasfy is coming off of a 5-2 victory over Ohio’s Sparty Chino. He is scheduled to face either No. 28 Luke Smith or Dakota Cooley.
Up-and-coming sophomore Caleb Marsh is coming off of a 2-0 against Ohio and Clarion. Marsh battled an injury early in the season and is starting to garner attention in the 165-pound division.
“(Caleb’s) done a very good job for us,” Andrassy said. “He’s a little bit older and been around a little longer, so he knows what we expect. This is a good opportunity for him to go in there and prove that he’s able to wrestle with the top 20 guys.”
Redshirt freshman Sam Wheeler had a bittersweet weekend, recording up a loss on Friday, but picking up a win on Saturday. Wheeler fell to No. 16 Cody Walters of Ohio, but won 7-2 over Ryan Darch of Clarion.
“This Sunday we kind got back to the basics,” Wheeler said of his preparation. “We know this is a solid team throughout the lineup, so we all have to wrestle at our best ability.”
Wheeler goes head-to-head against No. 23 Donnie Corby this weekend.
Fifth-year senior Casey Newburg (184 pounds) will square off against No. 2 and All-American Ben Bennett Sunday. Last weekend, Newburg went 2-0 with victories of 21-5 and 6-0. He ran his career win total to 112, tying former teammate Brendan Barlow for seventh place.
Fifth-year senior and 2011 national champion Dustin Kilgore will face CMU’s Jackson Lewis. Kilgore is chasing yet another record this weekend. He just tied the school’s record for pins (46) set by Jim Swetter. Kilgore is also three pins away from Swetter’s single-season record (17). The last seven times Kilgore has stepped on the mat for a dual meet, not a single opponent has made it to the third period.
In career MAC duals, Kilgore has dominated with a 17-0 record and seven pins. Now 29-0 this season with 23 bonus-point victories, the 2011 MAC Wrestler of the Year has the highest pound-for-pound rating of any wrestler in the nation according to Takedown Wrestling.
Live video and audio of Sunday’s match can be accessed with a subscription on cmuchippewas.com.
Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected]