Preseason workouts benefit wrestlers

Alex Atkinson

The Kent State wrestlers believe a mix of off-season workouts and conditioning is giving them an advantage over their opponents at the beginning of the year.

“As far as developing kids and coaching kids, our guys will be more prepared than theirs will at this level,” Kent State coach Jim Andrassy said.

Although the Kent State wrestlers may be more prepared, Andrassy said the Flashes still must prove their worth on the mats during the opening tournament.

“They just need to go out there and let these guys know they’ve been doing this for a while, and we should mentally beat and physically beat (opponents),” Andrassy said. “I think talent wise we have more talent on our team.”

Junior Dustin Kilgore said he believes it is the teams’ off-season conditioning that puts them ahead.

“As soon as we got to school we started training,” Kilgore said. “It’s hardcore training. We get right down to it. We always look so good in the beginning because, compared to other teams, we have such good conditioning. We have good conditioned bodies for these long, hard matches.”

The Open Mat’s No. 21 ranked Flashes open the season with dual meets against Chattanooga and Iowa State before competing in its first open tournament this weekend in Salem, Virginia.

Though both teams are young, these are two respected wrestling programs. Iowa State, who graduated many seniors, only lost two matches last year.

“I know Iowa State isn’t ranked as high as they were last year,” Kilgore said. “They’ve lost some guys. But no matter what, just from the past, you know they have great coaches and great guys. I think our conditioning is really going to help us out here and our technique.”

Chattanooga returns eight starters and two NCAA qualifiers from last year. One of the qualifiers, Prescott Garner, will compete against Kent State’s No. 4 Nic Bedelyon. Chattanooga is calling this the marquee match of the night.

“I’m going to win,” Bedelyon said. “I’m sure he’s going to come at me because when you get that high in the ranking, you get a target on your back. So every match, I have to be ready to give more than 120 percent.”

There will also be a rematch between Kent State’s Chase Skonieczuny and Cody Cleveland. Last season, Skonieczuny lost to Cleveland. Cleveland is ranked 8th in the Open Mat Individual rankings this year.

Junior Brendan Barlow will see Chattanooga’s senior Matt Lettner. Barlow is currently ranked 14th in the nation after he qualified for the NCAA Championships last year. In their last meeting, Barlow finished Lettner in a close 3-1 overtime win.

“Brendan’s a top-12 guy,” Andrassy said. “I expect him to beat the guy.”

Since the season is young, starting positions are still being determined. Andrassy said the coaching staff decided who was best to start for Saturday, but he hopes to see everybody in Sunday’s open tournament.

The Flashes face Chattanooga at 2 p.m. and Iowa State at 4 p.m. this Saturday, and the team will compete in the Hokie Open all day Sunday. All matches will be held at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Virginia.

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