KSU wrestlers open season with Blue-Gold Match

Thomas Gallick

The Kent State wrestling team’s annual preseason Blue-Gold Match exhibition will be held tomorrow at the Kent State Field House at 7:05 p.m. The team looks toward the season and a goal of finishing in the NCAA top 15.

The team, led by last year’s NCAA championship qualifiers senior Kurt Gross and juniors Danny Mitcheff and Jermail Porter, looks to improve on a second-place finish in the Mid-American Conference Championships.

Coach Jim Andrassy said he hopes this year’s team can finish the season as one of the top 15 nationally-ranked teams and compete with national wrestling powerhouse Central Michigan for the conference championship.

“We’d have to have our best tournament possible to beat them, but it could happen,” Andrassy said.

Central Michigan, picked to finish first in the preseason MAC coaches’ poll, is currently ranked fifth in the nation.

Gross, Mitcheff and Porter all entered this year rated in the individual NCAA wrestler rankings. Gross currently sits in the 19th spot for the 157-pound weight class, while Mitcheff is ranked 15th at the 133-pound class and Porter is ranked 20th at 285-pounds.

Gross is the only returning wrestler who won the individual MAC Championship in his weight class last year. He has held the title since he won it his sophomore year. Mitcheff and Porter both finished second overall in their respective weight classes at last year’s MAC Championships.

Andrassy said the team will be bolstered by its returning leaders with experience on the national stage.

“I think our returning qualifiers will be in really good shape,” Andrassy said. “We’re obviously going to be led by our three returning national qualifiers, Mitcheff, Gross and Porter.”

Assistant coach Josh Moore said he agreed that the trio leads by example, but pointed to juniors Eric Chine and Drew Lashaway as wrestlers who have also taken on leadership roles on the team.

“Our qualifiers are definitely leaders on the mat,” Moore said. “They lead by example, but Chine and Lashaway are the vocal leaders of the team.”

Moore said the Blue-Gold Match should give the coaches a way to measure how far the team has progressed since the beginning of practice.

“The Blue-Gold Match is going to show us where everybody’s at,” Moore said. “We’ve already been practicing on the mat for a month.”

The wrestling team will open the regular season at the Oklahoma Gold Invitational at Brockport, N.Y., on Nov. 10. The Flashes came in second place last year at the event hosted by the State University of New York.

Contact wrestling reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].