Wrestling team returns with depth, talent

Alex Atkinson

Kent State wrestling coach Jim Andrassy said his team’s goal is to finish the season ranked in the top-10 nationally.

To test their ability, the Flashes hopes to open up 5-0 against five nationally ranked teams: Iowa State, Virginia Tech, Virginia and North Carolina.

“Our goals are to be a top-10 nationally ranked team by the end of the year,” Andrassy said. “The first five meets will predict our ability to do that, which I think we have the ability to do.”

In two seasons, Andrassy has produced four different All-Americans, and last season Kent State tied a program best with five nationally ranked wrestlers en route to a regular season Mid-American Conference title.

The Flashes begin this season ranked 21st in the nation in The Open Mat rankings and second in the MAC.

“Our best guy on paper returns to the team, and we have our entire team back from last year,” Andrassy said. “So technically, we have a better team than we had last year.”


Nic Bedelyon starts the season ranked No. 1 by the MAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll and ranked fourth nationally by The Open Mat. After being redshirted last year for shoulder surgery, Bedelyon, a junior, returns to the team to start in the 125-pound weight class.

Sophomore Sean Collins will start the season in the 133-pound weight class, according to Andrassy.

“He’s going to be a new guy, but we expect a lot out of him,” Andrassy said. “How he does will dictate what we do with other people.”

At 141 pounds, Chase Skonieczny returns for his second year of starting. The sophomore was 21-17 for the Flashes last year.

“A year older, a year more mature, a year tougher,” Andrassy said. “The combination of those things with what he’s brought with him will hopefully lead to success.”

The 149-pound weight class is very competitive between junior Marcel Clopton and sophomore Tommy Sasfy, but Andrassy said he is starting with Clopton.

“Marcel has improved greatly from last year to this year,” Andrassy said. “Marcel blocked for Sasfy last year, and this year he’s beating him.”


Andrassy said he is going with senior Matt Cathell for the 157-pound weight class. Cathell wrestled in the 149-pound weight class last year, but Andrassy felt it did not fit him as well. Andrassy said he hopes sophomore Mallie Shuster, who is currently in the 157-pound weight class, will “take one for the team” and drop to the 149-pound weight class.

Returning national qualifier Ross Tice returns to the 165-weight class for his junior season.

Andrassy said redshirt freshman Brandonn Johnson will start in the 174-pound class and hopes national qualifier sophomore Keith Witt finishes the year in the 174-pound weight class.


Sophomore Casey Newburg will start in the 184-pound weight class. Andrassy said he credits Newburg as the most improved wrestler.

“Newburg is a guy that physically is a lot stronger than he’s ever been,” Andrassy said, “and I think he’s put himself in a position to be a starter.”

All-American Dustin Kilgore returns for his junior year wrestling in the 194-pound weight class. Kilgore, like Bedelyon, is also ranked first in the MAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. His 37 wins last season tied Kent State’s record.

Junior Brendan Barlow earned the starting position to the 285-pound weight class after going 33-9 in his first starting season last year.

Andrassy said the coaching staff has selected who will wrestle, but all that can change from match to match.

“They all just want to win, more so than in the past,” Andrassy said. “You add the combination of wanting to win with having the ability to (win) with the talent to do (win)… it’s a dangerous combination.”

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