Kent State wrestlers shock fans in first Virginia dual win


Brendan Barlow pins Dakota Greenhaw in Friday’s match against Northern Illinois University. Barlow, junior exploratory major, won against Greenhaw 4-1. Photo by Valerie Brown.

Tim Dorst

Winning the Virginia Duals for the first time in 11 years may come as a surprise to those who are familiar with the past success of the team and many of its wrestlers. Kent State has had multiple winning seasons over the last decade and a half, has been extremely competitive in the Mid-American Conference and had a national champion last year in Dustin Kilgore. However, the Virginia Duals title had always been just out of reach until last weekend.

Kent State coach Jim Andrassy said he has seen his team improve greatly in his nine years as the head coach and continues to see them get better.

“Each year I’ve been here, we’ve gotten better and better,” Andrassy said. “I’d say we’re the best No. 20-ranked team in the nation. What I mean by that is there are teams that are ranked lower than us that don’t have half the wrestlers that we do.”

The Flashes defeated No. 9 Missouri to become Virginia Duals champions. Senior Nic Bedelyon, sophomore Tyler Small and freshman Ian Miller are all ranked in the Top 10 in their respective weight classes, according to InterMat. Senior Brendan Barlow is ranked No. 20 among heavyweights. Despite having top-tier athletes in many of the weight classes, the team has rarely been ranked higher than No. 20 this year.

“We don’t always get a whole lot of respect, and that’s fine with me,” Andrassy said. “My thing is, keep us ranked No. 20 all year. I don’t have a problem with that. We just beat the No. 9-ranked team. Between all the guys we have, we’re just a pretty good team right now and we had a pretty good win this weekend.”

The Kent State wrestlers had come close to winning the tournament on previous occasions. They finished second in 2009, had third place finishes in 2007 and 2010 and finished fourth in 2008. Those teams included some of the best wrestlers in Kent State history, such as Dustin Kilgore, Danny Mitcheff and Alex Carmargo. As accomplished as those wrestlers were, this year’s team accomplished something those before it did not.

Andrassy credits stellar recruiting as one of the key factors to the team’s improvement and success this year.

“I think we have better athletes now,” Andrassy said. “We’ve recruited a bunch of good athletes that are starting to believe in what we’re doing. We’ve gotten some good transfers as well. The better recruits you get, the better you’ll be.”

Andrassy also said the relationships with assistant coaches Josh Moore and Matt Hill is another important factor.

“As a coaching staff, we get along pretty well,” Andrassy said. “You hear stories about the problems that other coaches and other teams have, but we have a good time in the office and out on road trips. The better you get along with people, the more you like your job.”

The Flashes begin conference play Jan. 20, starting with MAC rival Ohio University.

“It was good for us to win going into MAC play,” Andrasy said. “I’m excited about it, and I think our guys are really excited about it.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected] and @TimmyD_DKS.