The title goes through Kent

Chris Gates

Flashes have opportunity to take home championship at M.A.C

The Kent State wrestling team has three nationally ranked grapplers, seniors Jermail Porter, Drew Lashaway and Kurt Gross, heading into the M.A.C. tournament this weekend.ELIZABETH MYERS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Whoever is able to win the most individual matches this weekend will be the new Mid-American Conference champion.

With the MAC wrestling championships at the M.A.C. Center today and tomorrow, individuals will wrestle to determine the conference’s best. Kent State hopes to claim several of those spots and a potential team title as well.

The Flashes have taken two weeks to prepare and get as healthy as possible before the season finale. However, coach Jim Andrassy made sure the guys had fun while preparing.

Kurt Gross


Weight Class: 165 lbs

Record: 27-4

Two-time MAC Champion at 157 lbs

Three-year letter winner

Jermail Porter


Weight Class: 285 lbs

Record: 29-9

Second in MAC Championship

last season

Drew Lashaway


Weight Class: 141

Record: 26-8

Second in MAC Championship

last season

“We played a lot of battle-ball to get our minds fresh and to have a little fun,” Andrassy said. “It’s probably the healthiest we’ve been since we started the season. We’re perfect right now as far as where we need to be. Now the question is, can we get that to translate into success this weekend?”

Andrassy also said a unique part of the team is that they’re not looking for the end of the season. The team isn’t looking to their last weigh-in; everybody wants to keep wrestling and keep winning.

Senior Kurt Gross is already a two-time MAC champion, winning in his sophomore and junior seasons. A MAC Championship is the next step in Kurt’s hopeful journey to All-American status.

The difference this year is that Gross will be wrestling at a different weight class. He is a two-time champion at 157 pounds, but now wrestles at 165.

A handful of other wrestlers are nationally ranked and hope to earn an automatic bid to the NCAAs.

Junior Dan Mitcheff (133 pounds) is 27-6 this year. He finished the season strong, and is one of the favorites to come away with the title at 133.

Junior Drew Lashaway (141 pounds) finished the regular season off strong, beating a higher ranked opponent in Central Michigan’s Eric Kruger. Lashaway has momentum going in to the championships, and will likely have to face the same opponent again if he has a chance at winning. He finished the season with a record of 26-8.

“It boosts my confidence tremendously,” Lashaway said on beating Kruger. “Last year that kid beat me twice. I overcame that and worked real hard over the summer. I think I just improved a whole heck of a lot since last year.”

And junior Jermail Porter (285 pounds), unlike Mitcheff and Lashaway, finished the season with a loss. He was visibly tired in the third period against Central Michigan’s Bubba Gritter, and Andrassy said he needed two good weeks of practice to prepare for a likely re-match this weekend.

“He doesn’t have a lot of match time experience,” Andrassy said. “He started wrestling as a sophomore. He’s probably wrestled less than 150 matches in his whole life. He just has some anxiety, which wears him down during a match.”

The 125-pound freshman Nic Bedelyon is also a strong candidate for a MAC Championship. The whole team feeds off the energy he creates from leading off meets.

“He starts us off,” Andrassy said. “When Nic had bad matches we had bad matches. Nic’s pretty much the spark for our team.”

The mindset of the team this season is focus. The team has constantly looked forward and continues to do so with automatic bids.

“I think we’re a lot more focused on getting through the MAC and looking forward to the national tournament,” Andrassy said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that know what they should do in the MAC, and they’re concerned with preparing themselves to be wrestling the best in the national tournament.”

The MAC Championships could potentially end up looking a lot like the season finale at the M.A.C. Center, when the Flashes battled Central Michigan. The Chippewas finished first in the conference and No. 2 in the nation, while Kent State finished second in the conference and No. 21 in the nation.

Central Michigan has won the MAC Championship six straight times. Also for the Chippewas, 197-pound senior Wynn Michalak will try to become only the third wrestler in MAC history to win four consecutive individual titles.

Central Michigan features six wrestlers ranked at the top spot in the conference as well.

The MAC Championships start at 125 pounds, which works in the Flashes’ favor as they have one of the strongest opening lineups in the conference. A quick start could help Kent State to potentially upset Central Michigan in the final team score.

The Flashes are confident in their talent and feel, with the extra time to prepare, they have a legitimate chance at winning a MAC Championship.

“We’ve been pushing real hard these last two weeks,” Lashaway said. “Since we’ve been pushing this hard and focusing on our matches, I don’t see why we can’t run away with the title.”

The first round starts today at noon.

Contact sports reporter Chris Gates

at [email protected].