Wrestlers ready for weekend dual meets

Rachel Jones

The No. 17 Golden Flashes begin two-meet tour

Kent State looks to remain tough in-conference.

The No. 17 Kent State wrestling team embarks on a two-meet Mid-American Conference tour this weekend, traveling to Ohio tonight and hosting Eastern Michigan Sunday.

After a 31-6 win over Buffalo last Sunday, the Flashes (13-3, 2-0 MAC) must first concentrate on defeating the Bobcats (10-3, 2-0).

Ohio has not competed since Jan. 30, when it beat Buffalo 22-17.

For Kent State coach Jim Andrassy, the matchup between the Flashes and the Bobcats has almost become a rivalry.

“It’s been a while since they’ve beaten us,” Andrassy said. “(But) it could be a close match.”

Both teams seem evenly matched, but a lot of the rivalry comes from the coaches fighting to pick the best recruits from the same part of the state.

“We’re both pretty competitive, as far as coaches,” said Andrassy. “They’ve turned into a pretty good rival.”

But it’s not just the coaches that are getting involved.

Freshman Adam Cogar (17-6) said the heat of the rivalry comes from the Bobcats.

“I think a lot of the animosity sort of stems from their part,” said Cogar. “It’s kind of like the ‘little brother’ syndrome. They’re kind of in our shadow in the MAC conference.”

Freshman Chase Skonieczny (18-13) said he understands the competition from both sides.

“They have a lot of hatred for us, usually because we’ve always beaten them for so many years,” said Skonieczny. “For us, it’s keeping ahead of them and showing them that we’re still better.”

Both Skonieczny and Cogar will face tough opponents tonight.

At 197 pounds, Cogar wrestles Erik Schuth. Although Schuth is ranked first in the conference and 13th in the nation, Cogar said he is not worried.

“I think I’m as confident as I’ve been all year,” he said. “The OU kid just lost to the Buffalo kid (Jimmy Hammel) that I beat. I’m ready to go after him.”

Cogar said the coaches are trying to get him to watch more film, but he usually does not scout his opponents. Skonieczny, however, said he does scout, especially against a team like Ohio that has a lot of wrestlers from the same area as ones at Kent.

“Usually, we try to familiarize ourselves with who we’re wrestling and what kind of style they wrestle with,” Skonieczny said.

At 141 pounds, Skonieczny, ranked fourth in the MAC, faces Germane Lindsey, who is ranked atop the conference and 16th in the nation. Lindsey is actually a friend of Skonieczny’s, but he says that will not change how he approaches his match.

“It’s competition,” said Skonieczny. “(You) just go out and do what you have to do to win.”

While the wrestlers appear confident, Andrassy admitted that the dual meet against Ohio should be nerve-racking.

“They should be the better team on paper, (but) we’ve done a really good job at developing our young kids,” Andrassy said. “This could be close, but if we wrestle well, we’ll kill them.”

After battling the Bobcats, the Flashes will have Saturday to recover and make weight for their home dual against Eastern Michigan (10-10-1, 0-3) Sunday.

The team encourages fans to wear black to create a “Black-Out” for the meet.

The Eagles’ last meet was a 21-15 loss against Northern Illinois on Feb. 5.

“I think we’re a lot better than (Eastern Michigan),” Andrassy said. “I think it’s the easier of the two matches.”

The Eagles do not feature any nationally ranked wrestlers, but sophomore Dustin Kilgore (27-1) will face a tough opponent in Nick Whitenburg (11-4). At 184 pounds, Kilgore is now ranked fourth in the nation.

“Our number one job is to take care of our matches,” Skonieczny. If we take care of our matches, then everything will fall into place, and we’ll win.”

The Flashes may be competing without sophomore Brendan Barlow, Kent State’s nationally ranked heavyweight. Barlow recently injured his hand, but Andrassy said he will not know if Barlow will wrestle until he warms up tonight.

“You can’t really control who you’re competing (against),” said Andrassy. “You just have to go out there and do your best.”

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected].