Joe Tymoszczuk’s collegiate athletics career started at Ohio University with the plan to play both wrestling and football his sophomore year.
However, when he returned to the football coach in March of his freshman year, Tymo- szczuk says the coach acted like he never saw him before.
“I just said forget it and trans- ferred to a school that was closer to home,” Tymoszczuk said.
Tymoszczuk transferred to Kent State and was redshirted a season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Tymoszczuk hit the football field the following year for the Flashes.
However, after a season full of losses and seeing slim chances of ever earning a starting position, Tymoszczuk added wrestling to his schedule by walking on the team his junior year.
“It kind of gets to you when you’re on a losing team,” Tymoszc- zuk said. “The team morale, I just want to be winning. I want to be in a starting spot.”
There, Tymoszczuk found his first opportunity to be center stage when the Flashes’ heavyweight Brendan Barlow went out with a hand injury.
Tymoszczuk went 4-0 in the span, including an 11-10 victory over his former school’s Andy Hartshorn to give Kent State the 17-16 conference win.
The following week, he was awarded Mid-American Conference Player of the Week.
“There’s nothing better than going to practice every day and hav- ingitpayoffwithawinonaweek- end,” Tymoszczuk said. “To get an opportunity to wrestle and go out there and work hard and get the win is pretty sweet.”
Tymoszczuk thought his opportunity for a starting job might come this year.
Originally, Dustin Kilgore was to continue wrestling at 184 and Brendan Barlow would hold at heavyweight.
The 197 lb-class was open.
Tymoszczuk’s 230 pounds looked to be the only thing holding him back from the 197-weight class. He was forced to drop serious weight.
“After a few weeks of all run- ning, I was like 217, 220,” Tymoszc- zuk said. “I was kind of stuck right around 215. I remember two weeks before our inter-squad match I was still 215. I really couldn’t get much below that.”
Tymoszczuk said he felt his teammates and even Kent State coach Jim Andrassy doubted he could do it. He consulted 125-weight class Nic Bedelyon for advice.
“It was tough,” Tymoszczuk said. “Even three days before, I was still 212. I just got down. Ran a lot. I made it.”
To his misfortune, Kilgore bulked up and took the 197 lb-class.
Tymoszczuk said he wished he could have taken the 197 lb-class, but he believes the situation turned out for the better. “I wish I could have gone 197, but I think things end up working out,” Tymoszczuk said. “My main thing was just worrying about my weight, making sure I could make the weight cut and still compete at that weight.
“When I first made the cut down and we had wrestle-offs, I was having too many bad days.”
As a fifth-year senior, Tymoszczuk has stepped up as one of the leaders on this team. In practice, his main job is making two of Kent State’s better wrestlers, Kilgore and Barlow, work their best in practice.
“He’s helping us and keeping his guys working hard,” Andrassy said. “He’s just a guy who pushes all of the wrestlers. And when I say push them, he pushes them extremely hard.”
Barlow said he believes Tymoszc- zuk is better than 75 percent of the guys he wrestles.
Kilgore said drilling against Tymoszczuk has definitely helped him prepare for his competition on the weekend.
“Joe definitely compares to the 197 wrestlers than anyone in the room because of his strength and
his all around brute force,” Kilgore said. “He’s not the kind of guy who backs down and gives up. You get him in on the leg and he fights until the very end. It definitely helps me against the 197 wrestlers because it’s a big changeup from me to go from 184 to 197, and Joe’s a great partner to work out with.”
He said he finds a sense of accomplishment in this role when he sees these teammates perform well in their matches.
“If you can make people around you better, you’ve done some- thing,” Tymoszczuk said. “You kind of have a sense of accomplishment
for helping others.” Although he does not know when his next match may come, Tymoszczuk said he would make the most of any opportunity.
“You just have to take advantage of every opportunity that you have,” Tymoszczuk said. “When I was at the (Southern) Scuffle, I took advantage of the opportunity I was given. I just need to do well in every opportunity coach gives me.”
Contact Alex Atkinson at [email protected]