Wrestlers conquer rough start to win first conference match

Alex Atkinson

After losing the first three matches, junior Ross Tice swung the momentum in Kent State’s favor by upsetting the No. 1 wrestler in the Mid-American Conference at 165, yesterday in the team’s conference opener.

“I thought we were screwed,” said Jim Andrassy, Kent State coach, of the early 9-0 deficit to Buffalo. “I thought we would win at 141 and 159. We lost both of those. I didn’t know what would happen at 165.”

Taking the mat to face the Bulls’s John-Martin Cannon, Tice said he knew his team would most likely lose the dual if he lost at 165. In order to leave Kent State with a chance, he had to beat the No. 1 wrestler in the conference at 165.

Pulling two near fall points, an escape point and a riding time point gave Tice the 4-2 win. Cannon’s two points came on two stalling calls on Tice.

Tice said his ability to pull the upset was from past experience of wrestling Cannon.

“I wrestled him several times before and know he’s good on his feet,” Tice said. “I worked real hard on top to grind him out and not let him get any takedowns from neutral positions.”

Tice’s performance sparked the rest of the Flashes, who won five of the six remaining matches to take the 19-13 conference win.

“Ross Tice turned things around for us,” Andrassy said. “He came out against the number one ranked guy in the conference and ended up winning. From there on, I was pretty happy with their performances.”

After freshman Brandonn Johnson’s 6-1 win over Ron Majerus, the Flashes received another big win as Kent State’s Casey Newburg, ranked second in the MAC at 184, defeated Jimmy Hamel, ranked No. 1 in the MAC, 2-1.

As Andrassy predicted, the match went into overtime. The referee decided the match by calling Hamel for fleeing the mat.

“The experience Casey has gotten against some tough competition this year is really paying off,” Andrassy said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of action in the match, but Casey took a shot in overtime and the fleeing the mat was a good call.”

Junior Dustin Kilgore gave the Flashes a 13-9 lead, their first lead of the day, with a 17-4 major decision over Josh Peters. The win was Kilgore’s 46th consecutive dual meet win.

“Kilgore did what he always does,” Andrassy said simply of his superstar.

Kent State’s winning streak was cut short in the final match of the night, as Buffalo’s Kevin Smith scored a 12-1 major decision over freshman Tyler Small to make the final 19-13 score.

“Small beat (Smith) pretty bad the first time; he beat Small this time,” Andrassy said. “I’m sure we’ll see Smith again in the MAC Tournament, so we’ll try and swing things our way next time.”

The Flashes host Ohio in their final home match of the season Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. Three-time MAC Champion Nick Nemeth, WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler, will make a special appearance and serve as the Flashes’s honorary captain on Senior Day. Nemeth is fourth in career wins at Kent State with 121 wins from 1998-2003.

Contact Alex Atkinson at [email protected].