Wrestling starts off season with intra-squad showdown

Thomas Gallick

The Kent State wrestling team kicked off its season with the annual Blue-Gold Match, a scrimmage between teammates, Saturday at the Kent State Fieldhouse.

Coach Jim Andrassy said the match would help the wrestlers get some experience before the official start of the season and give him a better idea of who would start the first tournament.

“I’m more concerned about getting everyone a match before our first tournament than anything else,” Andrassy said.

He also told the crowd one of his goals for the season was to defeat Ohio State in a home dual match scheduled for Jan. 4.

The Gold team, coached by new assistant coaches Matt Hill and Drew Opfer, won the scrimmage 27-19 against the Blue team, coached by Andrassy and assistant coach Josh Moore.

Senior Kurt Gross and junior Jermail Porter, both of whom qualified for the NCAA Championships last year, led the Gold team with solid victories at the 157 and 285 pound weight classes, respectively.

Junior Drew Lashaway, one of the match winners for the Blue team, said even though the Blue-Gold Match was between teammates, none of the wrestlers took the event lightly.

“It’s a match-style event, so we’re supposed to go as hard as we can,” Lashaway said. “Basically, it’s going to tell us where we stand on conditioning and get us ready for our first matches.”

Moore said the event was a success because it gave the coaches a better idea of what they need to focus on in practice.

“We’ll look at what the guys did right and what the guys did wrong and work on our weaknesses,” Moore said. “Our guys wrestled hard and we only had one injury that we don’t think is very serious.”

Moore was referring to sophomore Nick Dierkes, who injured his shoulder and lost by default to freshman Kyle Haddox in their match.

Lashaway said wrestling well in this match was just the first step in a season filled with high expectations and goals.

“We want to be one of the top teams in the nation, compete and win in all of our duals and win our first MAC Championship in a while,” Lashaway said.

Kent State wrestling last earned a Mid-American Conference Championship in 1990 and has 10 total conference championships in program history.

The Flashes also look to improve based on their recruiting class, ranked No. 10 in the nation by college wresting Web site InterMat. The class includes highly touted freshmen Brendan Barlow, Brian Dean and Haddox.

The wrestling team begins its official season Saturday at the Oklahoma Gold Invitational in Brock Port, N.Y. The Flashes placed second in the event last year, held at the State University of New York.

Contact wrestling reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].