Wrestling hosts Panthers in final non-conference meet of season

Caleb Raubenolt

The Kent State wrestling team got its first taste of Mid-American Conference competition last weekend with a solid performance in defeating Northern Illinois, 31-10.

Hungry for more of the MAC, the Flashes will have to set aside their appetites for another week as they await the arrival of the Pittsburgh Panthers, who they will face at 7:05 p.m. tomorrow at the M.A.C. Center. The team knows the Panthers shouldn’t – and won’t – be taken lightly.

Pittsburgh (3-5) is coming into tomorrow’s meet fresh off a rout of Cleveland State on Wednesday, 38-3. The win over the Vikings gave Pittsburgh coach Rande Stottlemyer his 250th career win.

In comparison, the No. 24 Flashes (8-4) defeated the Vikings earlier this season, 33-5. Although Kent State coach Jim Andrassy’s career marks aren’t as high as Stottlemyer’s, he feels confident in tomorrow’s matchup.

“We’re going in hoping to win the match – that’s our first goal with this type of team,” Andrassy said. “Then (we’ll) get ourselves ready for MAC competition. We know what Central (Michigan) did against them. We think we’re comparable to Central, so we just need to go in there and beat them up.”

Andrassy was referring to Pittsburgh’s 28-6 loss to defending MAC champion, Central Michigan.

For Andrassy’s hopes to be fulfilled, the Flashes will need to boast strong performances in the 10-match event, where both teams feature several of the nation’s finest wrestlers.

Ranked No. 14 in the country, Kent State senior Drew Lashaway (22-5) will face the No. 10-ranked 141-pounder, Pittsburgh freshman Tyler Nauman.

Lashaway said he hopes focusing on his specific “hard-nosed” techniques will help him prevail against his opponent.

“He’s a tough kid, I know that,” Lashaway said “That’s why he’s ranked in the country. But I feel I’m right there with him though, so it’s going to be a good match.”

Despite junior Danny Mitcheff’s loss last week, he will look to redeem himself in his match with Pittsburgh’s Jimmy Conroy. According to several polls, both Mitcheff (16-8) and Conroy are ranked within the nation’s top 20 wrestlers at 133 pounds.

In tomorrow night’s match between rival senior heavyweights, Kent State’s fourth-ranked Jermail Porter (21-1) challenges Pittsburgh’s eighth-ranked Zach Sheaffer (17-4).

The two have faced each other five times in their collegiate wrestling careers, with Porter edging Sheaffer overall, 3-2. Last season, Porter won by decision when the teams met in Pittsburgh, 4-2.

“I don’t see a real reason why I can’t beat him again like that. I controlled the whole match last time,” Porter said. “It wasn’t really that close. I’m pretty confident about it.”

Porter’s win, along with several key victories by this year’s returning wrestlers, led to the Flashes winning 22-13 when the two teams met in Pittsburgh last season.

“We beat them last year at their place,” Andrassy said. “We beat them bad, so they’re going to want to come in here and get some revenge.”

Contact sports reporter Caleb Raubenolt at [email protected].