Kent State wrestlers gear up for the 35th annual Navy Classic

Freshman+Mark+McGuire+competes+against+a+member+of+the+Buffalo+wreastling+team+in+the+Mac+center+on+Feb.+3.+Photo+by+PHILIP+BOTTA.

Freshman Mark McGuire competes against a member of the Buffalo wreastling team in the Mac center on Feb. 3. Photo by PHILIP BOTTA.

Richie Mulhall

The No. 20 Kent State wrestling team will travel to Annapolis, Md., to compete in the 35th annual Navy Classic Saturday at Wesley Brown Field House.

The Flashes are coming off of their successful showing last week in the Michigan State Open Tournament, in which three Kent State wrestlers were crowned champions in their respective weight classes.

Dustin Kilgore, NCAA champion, top-ranked 197-pounder in the nation and fifth-year senior, claimed the open division title last week and is seeking to maintain his perfect record this weekend.

Fifth-year senior Casey Newburg won the 184-lb open division title last week and is also going into Saturday trying to remain undefeated.

Redshirt freshman Nick Carr, who has only lost one match this season (to a top-10 149-pounder), took the crown in the freshman/sophomore division and will continue to keep learning and improving as the season goes by.

“Dustin, Casey and Nick have done a great job,” head coach Jim Andrassy said. “Nick has come on and done a great job, which we knew. I’m really excited for him and the way he’s progressed so far. I’m really happy with where he’s going.”

Andrassy said he’s expecting big things from all three of his champions this week, as well as fifth-year seniors Mallie Shuster (157 lbs) and Stevie Mitcheff (125 lbs).

“Mallie and Stevie are fifth-year seniors and they don’t have too many more opportunities to wrestle in events like this,” Andrassy said. “We’re three weeks into the season; this is where they’re both used to the season now. They need to step up and mainly become a leader through their wrestling.”

Throughout this past week, Andrassy has been working with his squad to get them ready for the tournament this weekend. Every day, Andrassy wants to continue teaching his team and developing wrestlers.

“The plan hasn’t changed,” Andrassy said. “We’re still working on getting better. Right now we’re just developing wrestlers and trying to get them better. It’s just do what we normally do as far as just training.”

Shuster said the team is in a good position right now. He said the wrestlers are on track for peeking at the end of the season, the starting line-up for the team is highly experienced and the younger wrestlers are really stepping up. Mitcheff is happy with the team’s performance thus far, but said there’s always room for improvement.

“I think we’re doing pretty well for the most part, but we could always do better,” Mitcheff said.

A number of teams await the Flashes at the Navy Classic, including West Virginia, Ohio, Citadel, Rutgers, Bucknell and Cleveland State. Andrassy said Kent State is probably the favorite going into the tournament.

Andrassy intends to take 16 wrestlers to Annapolis this weekend. The top 10 wrestlers in each weight class can place and score for the team.

The Navy Classic starts at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].