Wrestling team preparing for two tough matches this weekend


Junior Dustin Kilgore grapples his opponent in Kent State’s match against Northern Illinois on Jan. 21. Kilgore faces the defending MAC Champion on Friday. Photo by Jessica Yanesh.

Alex Atkinson

The Kent State wrestlers’ matches against Ohio and Eastern Michigan offer many close scores, as six Bobcats and six Eagles are ranked at the No. 4 spot or higher in the Mid-American Conference.

Though Kent State has not lost to Ohio in six years, the Flashes, ranked No. 15 in the nation by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, won’t take this match for granted.

The Bobcats upset Central Michigan 21-17 Feb. 4 in Athens. It was the team’s first loss to Ohio since 1998.

Kent State’s No. 28 freshman Brandonn Johnson (19-15), who is ranked No. 28 in the 174-weight class by WrestlingReport.com, has the task of slowing down Ohio’s No. 17 Nick Purdue.

Purdue was awarded MAC Player of the Week this week for his victory over Central Michigan’s No. 6 Ben Bennett last weekend.

“BJ (Johnson) has to stay focused and keep going with the game plan we’ve given him,” said Jim Andrassy, Kent State’s coach. “He seems to get up for the big matches well.

“He’s very aware of how to wrestle good wrestlers. If he wrestles up to his ability it will be a very good match.”

Junior Dustin Kilgore (28-2), who wrestled at 184 pounds last season, will face the defending MAC Champion, 197 Eric Schuth, on Friday night.

Kilgore said he feels he needs to win this match in order to prove he is the new No. 1 guy at 197.

“I’m a very competitive person,” Kilgore said. “Even though I bumped up, people may feel like this is their spot. I’m here just to prove myself that I’m as good as anyone else.”

Andrassy said he has been using a coaches’ poll all season to stir up Kilgore.

“Earlier in the year, the coaches actually ranked Schuth above Kilgore,” Andrassy said. “I put a little fire under Dustin’s tail by reminding him every now and then that Schuth is a little better. Hopefully that’ll give him a little more motivation to go out there and take care of business tonight. I’m interested to see how this kid fends off Dustin.”

At heavyweight, Kent State’s No. 13 junior Brendan Barlow will have challenging matches both Friday and Sunday. He faces No. 23 Jeremy Johnson Friday night, and the No. 17 David Wade on Sunday.

“I think the biggest thing with Brendan is he needs to be more offensive and more aggressive,” Andrassy said. “He’s accepted the challenge in the practice room this week, and I’m hoping he goes out there and wrestles like he knows how to wrestle.”

The Flashes hope to keep up their success against Eastern Michigan. Kent State holds a 37-1-1 record against the Eagles. The last time the Flashes fell to the Eagles was in 1974.

Andrassy said the team just has to stay focused against Eastern Michigan.

“Every year we wrestle (Eastern Michigan), it seems like a close match just because it’s between Ohio and Central Michigan,” Andrassy said. “We normally finish OU and are already thinking about Central. We need to make sure we’re prepared and each guy has his head prepared right and we stay focused on our goals—to become MAC Champs and place in the top 12 in the country.”

Action begins against Ohio at 7 p.m. Friday in the M.A.C. Center, with a special appearance by Dolph Ziggler, a WWE wrestler and Kent State alum. The Flashes then travel for a 2 p.m. match in Ypsilanti, where the team will face Eastern Michigan on Sunday.

Contact Alex Atkinson at [email protected].