Flashes return to the mat after a week off

Rachel Jones

After a weeklong break, the No. 17 Kent State wrestling team is ready to take on Buffalo Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

“It’s good to have a week off,” coach Jim Andrassy said. “I think it’ll help down the road when the season really starts to drag.”

The Flashes (11-3, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) will host the Bulls (8-5-1, 1-1) at the M.A.C. Center, something Andrassy said his wrestlers are happy about.

“If you’re in front of your home crowd, it should pump you up a little bit and help you wrestle the best you can,” Andrassy said. “But I don’t think that motivates our guys. The ultimate motivation is to go out and win the match to help the team win.”

Andrassy said he feels the team has a competitive matchup against the Bulls, who defeated Eastern Michigan 28-12 Wednesday.

“In the past years, we’ve been able to handle them pretty easily, but I think that they are a much-improved team,” Andrassy said. “We’re a young team, and you never know who’s going to show up when you have young guys.”

After competing against each other multiple times, some wrestlers are familiar with the opponents they’ll be facing off against.

“Any time you wrestle (the same opponents) again and again and again, the matches become a little bit closer,” Andrassy said. “You never know what could happen if you see an opponent for the third, fourth or fifth time around.”

Some wrestlers are taking this expected challenge as a chance to improve their current standings.

Sophomore heavyweight Brendan Barlow (27-6) is currently ranked second in the conference. A win Sunday could boost his seeding for the MAC and NCAA tournaments in March.

At 184 pounds, Dustin Kilgore (26-1) is looking to continue his nine-match winning streak.

Despite individual goals, Andrassy said he wants each wrestler to wrestle well, dominate his opponent and ultimately, win.

“You can’t take anything for granted,” he said. “You just have to go into every match, prepare the best you can and hope that they’re going to wrestle the best.”

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected].