Wrestlers hold high expectations for 2009-2010 season

Josh Johnston

Flashes open season against Virginia Tech tomorrow

Key losses to the Kent State wrestling team haven’t stopped coach Jim Andrassy from aiming high for the upcoming season.

Despite losing three nation qualifiers to graduation, including All-American Jermail Porter, Andrassy said he thinks the Flashes are still among the top teams in the country.

“I think we have a better team this year than we did last year, bottom line,” he said. “Yeah, we lost guys, but we’ve brought better guys in. If all our guys hit their potential, I think we can be a top-10 team.”

With only two seniors on the roster, Kent State brings a young team into this season. In the lightweight classes, the Flashes return just one healthy upperclassman after an injury to All-American junior Nic Bedelyon.

Kent State will look to replace Bedelyon, who Andrassy said will be out for about half the season, with freshmen Stevie Mitcheff and sophomore Troy Opfer. Opfer tied the team lead with eight pins en route to a 21-14 season while Stevie went 3-3 before missing the rest of the season from injury.

At the 133-pound weight class, senior Danny Mitcheff returns after qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for his third year.

“I think our lightweight program will be tough again this year,” Danny said. “I think we’re an all around better team too. I think we’re pretty solid at all the weight classes.”

In the higher weight classes, freshman Adam Cogar will try to fill Eric Chine’s shoes at 197, while Brendan Barlow will replace Porter.

“For Chine and Porter, losing them, we’ve got Barlow, who’s a phenomenal heavyweighter as it is,” sophomore Dustin Kilgore said. “He’s only going to get better. At 197, we’ve got Adam Cogar who’s proven himself last year as being a tough kid.”

Kilgore finished last season with a 33-5 record and a fifth seed at nationals.

The Flashes will square off for the first time this season against Virginia Tech tomorrow in Blacksburg, Va. The Hokies rank just above Kent State in the Division 1 College Wrestling poll.

“It’s definitely going to be a chance for us to figure out where we stand nationally,” Kilgore said. “Compared to last year when we started out a little rough and got better as the season went on, that may or may not happen. It’s kind of taking a chance because our team is so young.”

Contact assistant sports editor Josh Johnston at [email protected].