Wrestling continues recent success in USA Today national poll

Jeff Russ

Very few sports are as individualistic as wrestling.

There are individual records, individual weight classes and only one person wrestles at a time. Not a lot of team elements.

But for all the individuality in the sport, the Kent State wrestling team has a lot to be happy about as a group.

For the third consecutive season, the Kent State wrestling team is ranked in the national Top 25.

“It is nice for the team,” coach Jim Andrassy said. “This is such an individual sport. I kind of like the overall excitement of team rankings.”

So far this season, Andrassy is pleased with the way his team has played. He sees a lot of similarities between this team and the last two teams that have gained Top 25 recognition.

“The kids work hard and went and earned the ranking,” he said. “When you are a Mid-American Conference team, you have to earn everything you get. Nothing is given to you in this conference.”

Andrassy said the ranking is nice, but at the same time the team cannot focus on that and still must concentrate on winning conference matches. He said many of the team’s remaining matches are winnable.

“We have four conference matches left,” he said. “We have to tighten things up. Things are not going to change.”

The Flashes ranking comes in part from a big win last week against another ranked opponent. In Pittsburgh Thursday, the team defeated the nationally-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers.

After the match, Andrassy said it was the type of meet his team would have lost five years ago. The Flashes won three matches in overtime that night, but Andrassy was never worried about the team.

“The overtimes lasted 15 and 16 seconds,” he said. “The funny thing is I felt like we were in complete control the entire time. There was never a thought in my mind that we were going to lose any of those matches.”

Players and coaches call January and February the toughest months of the wrestling season. The key is to push through and come out successful. The Pittsburgh victory is a key to that push.

“I’m young, and everyone saying you’re going to have these times in the middle of the year where you are going to be sore,” freshman Nic Bedelyon said after the Pittsburgh victory.

The Flashes now take their 21st-ranking to Athens in a match against Ohio on Friday. Ohio wrestles at a slower pace than Kent State’s attacking style, so coaches say the key will be beating them at Kent State’s game.

Contact sports editor Jeff Russ at [email protected].