While most students slammed drinks and slept late over break, the wrestling team slammed its way up the national rankings. The team entered the break determined to reach its full potential. And it turns out that’s quite high. They are now ranked No. 22 in the nation, the highest ranking in team history.
The team is 9-1 this season, and that lone defeat came to 12th-ranked Edinboro University, a team that followed their victory over Kent State with an upset of 10th-ranked Penn State to win the Virginia Duals championship.
Led by senior captains Aaron Miller, Chad Sportelli and Jason McGee, the Flashes have worked their way up the national poll by upsetting Ohio State and dominating teams in duals and invitationals.
The Flashes will open their Mid-American Conference season tonight at Eastern Michigan. The Eagles are 3-4 this season and 0-1 in the MAC. Eastern Michigan lost to Cleveland State in its season opener 18-15, while Kent State dominated CSU 29-9 earlier this season. Seniors Nick Conklin and Tony Lyssiotis will lead the Eagles.
Kent State coach Jim Andrassy said the team is glad to have its toughest part of the season out of the way. He said over break the guys trained hard, so they were rewarded with a break the past few days.
“We want to get off to a good start Wednesday,” Andrassy said. “If we don’t win Wednesday, then it will be impossible to reach our goals.”
And for Andrassy and his team, the goals are many: win the MAC, win the NCAA Tournament, have eight wrestlers qualify for the national tournament and rank in the top 15 nationally.
The goals may seem lofty, but Andrassy said they’re realistic. The Flashes returned three national qualifiers this season as well as seven starters.
Andrassy said he expects his team to defeat Eastern Michigan.
“If we wrestle up to our ability, then we should’t have a problem winning,” he said. “On paper, we should win if we do what we’re supposed to.”
He also said that Central Michigan is the team to catch in the MAC and in the national rankings.
Central Michigan is ranked in the top ten and will host Kent State on Feb. 18 in the Flashes’ final MAC match of the season.
“Our guys feel the best they have mentally, January is the hardest month and they are glad to have most of it over,” Andrassy said. “Now they are looking forward to the MAC season.”
Contact wrestling reporter Nate Stuart at [email protected]