Kent State wrestlers grab second place in season-opening tournament in New York

Steven Voicik

The Kent State wrestling team began its season Saturday with a second-place finish at the Oklahoma Gold Classic Showcase.

The Flashes’ grapplers traveled to The State University of New York at Brockport for the eight-team tournament and finished with 109.5 points, trailing only Oklahoma.

Senior Jason McGee led the team as he and sophomore Eric Chine each earned individual championships in their weight classes.

McGee, who has posted back-to-back 20-win seasons, has returned to his natural weight of 149 pounds after wrestling in several different weight classes during his career.

McGee won his opening match by pinning Mitch Nook of Brockport. McGee also notched victories against Rutgers and Oklahoma before defeating Matt Moley of Bloomsburg to earn his championship.

“Jason has the ability to win a MAC championship this year,” head coach Jim Andrassy said in a press release.

Eric Chine, who enjoyed success last season at the 184-pound weight class, has overcome a preseason injury to beat out teammates Tom LaRosa and Michael Blackwell to earn the starting job.

Chine earned his tournament championship at 184 pounds after defeating Brett Giehl of Brockport as well as Nate Shirk of Bloomsburg and Scott Ferguson of Army.

Senior Aaron Miller also had a good showing in the tournament. Miller, who has shown steady improvement throughout his career, was second overall in his 174-pound weight class Saturday.

The expectations for this season’s wrestling team may have been elevated by the win.

The Flashes, who finished last year ranked second in the Mid-American Conference, are returning seven starters to the mat, all of whom placed in the top three of their respective weight classes in the MAC tournament last season.

The Flashes were projected to finish second in this season’s preseason coaches’ poll.

One of Andrassy’s team goals is to increase the number of national qualifiers and send more wrestlers to the 2006 NCAA tournament. In order to achieve this goal, Andrassy scheduled four national tournaments for his team throughout the first two months of the season.

One of the four tournaments Andrassy scheduled was the Oklahoma Gold Classic Showdown.

“It is important for our guys to wrestle as well as possible in the beginning of the year, to get them nationally ranked,” Andrassy said in a press release last month.

Saturday the Flashes will again travel to New York to participate in the Body Bar Invitational.

Contact sports correspondent Steve Voicik at [email protected].