Kent State wrestlers only split-second short of biggest upset of the season

Sean Ammerman

Senior Jason Bake attempts to regain control of a match against Mark DiSalvo of Central Michigan in the 149 weight class yesterday at the M.A.C. Center. Kent State lost 23-15. ALLIEY BENDER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

The Kent State wrestling team extended its unbeaten streak to eight on Saturday with a 24-9 victory over Ashland, only to have it snapped by No. 4 nationally ranked Central Michigan, 23-15, at the M.A.C. Center yesterday.

But it almost went the other way, as Kent State junior Ardian Ramadani nearly pinned Central’s Wynn Michalak, who is the No. 1 nationally ranked wrestler in the 197-pound weight class.

The referee called it a near fall, ruling that Ramadani did not have Michalak’s shoulders down the full second necessary for a pin.

Michalak recovered and won later in the same period by cradling Ramadani to a pin. The turn of events resulted in a 12-point swing in the score.

“I think it should have been a pin when (Ramadani) picked him up and dropped him down,” Kent State coach Jim Andrassy said. “You get a little more leverage to you when you’re No. 1 in the country.”

The dual meet decided first place in the Mid-American Conference, as the 11-4 Chippewas remain undefeated in the conference and the 13-3-1 Flashes fell into a second place tie with Northern Illinois.

The Flashes started the dual meet with an upset win at 125 pounds. Kent State junior No. 15 Chad Sportelli got the crowd into it early, getting a 4-1 decision win over No. 12 Luke Smith. This marked Sportelli’s 16th win in his last 19 matches.

The Flashes faltered in the rest of the lower weight classes, however, losing their next four matches.

It started at 133 pounds, as Kent State senior Drew Opfer lost a major decision to No. 12 Jason Borrelli, 10-2. At the end of the final period, Opfer fell short as he scrambled to get one point, which would have made Borrelli’s win only a decision.

Kent State sophomore Drew Lashaway then lost, 7-6, to Brandon Carter at 141 pounds. Lashaway made a comeback in the final period, but his takedown in the last seconds wasn’t enough to take it to overtime.

This was followed by Kent State senior Jason Bake’s 3-2 loss to No. 5 Mark DiSalvo, who is the reigning conference champ at 149 pounds, and Kent State sophomore Kurt Gross’ 13-4 major decision defeat to Andy Keller.

But the Flashes got a shot of energy when junior Jason McGee pinned Trevor Stewart at 165 pounds. Nevertheless, McGee said the pin did not make the afternoon a success to him.

“I’d rather lose and have the team win,” McGee said.

Kent State junior Aaron Miller could not keep the momentum going to the next match, as he lost a 4-3 defensive struggle to No. 19 Brandon Sinnott at 174 pounds.

But Kent State senior No. 16 Alex Camargo rebounded, and won a 2-1 defensive struggle of his own over No. 19 Christian Sinnot. Now at 120 career wins, Camargo is now just one win shy of Nick Nemeth’s school record.

This put the team score at 12-17 in the Chippewas’ favor when Ramadani almost turned it around against Michalak.

His fall did not take the breath out of Kent State freshman Jermail Porter, who ended the afternoon with a 5-2 upset win over No. 13 Bubba Gritter.

“As a team, I feel we wrestled all right,” Andrassy said. “To beat a team like Central, all ten guys had to wrestle to their highest level for us to win.”

Kent State went .500 on the weekend by overtaking an Ashland team who is ranked No. 7 is the latest Division-II poll.

The Eagles challenged the Flashes in the lower weights, but could not keep up with the upper weights as the meet wore on.

Claiming seven of the 10 victories were Sportelli with a 7-4 decision win over Mike Compton at 125 pounds, Bake with a 5-3 decision over Jake Bartley at 149 pounds, Gross who got his 13th consecutive win with a 6-1 decision over Pete Carnabuci at 157 pounds, Miller with a 6-1 decision over Clint Carmony at 184 pounds, Camargo with a 10-3 decision over Matt Allen, Ramadani with a 12-7 decision over Ryan Kirst, and Porter who capped the evening off by pinning Joe Reamer.

The Flashes are now set to prepare for the MAC Championship, which will be held at Northern Illinois March 3 in Dekalb, Ill.

Contact wrestling reporter Sean Ammerman at [email protected].