Wrestling team finishes second at MAC Championships

Nate Stuart

Kurt Gross led the Kent State wrestling team to second place overall at the Mid-American Conference Championships during the weekend in Buffalo, N.Y. The senior took first place in the 157-pound weight class and helped the Flashes bounce back from a slow first day on Saturday.

Central Michigan took first with 106.5 points, Kent State was second with 73.5 points and Northern Illinois, who was second after the first day, came in third with 61.5 points.

Also aiding the Kent State comeback were seniors Ardian Ramadani, Chad Sportelli and Jason McGee; and sophomores Jermail Porter, Drew Lashaway and Danny Mitcheff. All finished second in their weight class, while senior Eric Chine came in third.

“I’m very happy with the way we performed,” head coach Jim Andrassy said.

He said it was “just a matter of time” before Kent State overcame Northern Illinois to finish second behind Central Michigan.

Andrassy pointed out three key matches that were crucial to Kent State’s success: McGee’s upset of eighth-ranked Mike Grimes of Northern Illinois on Saturday, Gross’ first-round victory over Central Michigan’s Andy Keller – a wrestler he had lost to two times this season – and Sportelli’s victory over Central Michigan’s Luke Smith, to whom he’d lost three times before.

Five Kent State wrestlers qualified for the National Championships. Gross was an automatic bid after winning in his weight class. Sportelli, McGee, Porter and Mitcheff are all considered wildcards.

McGee said he is thrilled to be competing in the National Championships.

“I’m going to keep working hard and stay mentally focused,” he said, calling his second-place tournament score “bittersweet.”

The team will continue its normal practice schedule until March 13 and will head to the National Championships in Detroit March 15 to 17.

“We are a very good team,” Andrassy said. “We don’t have any superstars. We have 10 solid guys with 12 good back-ups. They work really hard, and they believe in their coaching staff.”

Contact wrestling reporter Nate Stuart at [email protected].