Wrestlers win one match, tie another over the weekend

Sean Ammerman

Junior Ardian Ramadani gave the Golden Flashes more early momentum with a 14-4 major decision of Dave Herrera at 197. Ramadani (16-8) extended the team lead to 7-0. A one-point victory in the night’s final match forced a 16-16 tie between Kent State (10-3

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

A mixture of tough competition and controversial referee calls slighted the Kent State wrestling team as it fell from a tie for first place in the Mid-American Conference Friday.

In a match-up between MAC leaders Kent State and No. 24 Northern Illinois, nobody came out victorious, as the match ended 16-16.

The Flashes recovered Sunday afternoon with a 25-16 win over Pittsburgh, bringing its record to 10-3-1.

Winners were split 5-5 in Friday’s dual meet between Kent State and Northern Illinois, with five of those matches being decided by one point.

The Flashes started off strong with a decision win from No. 16 senior Alex Carmargo and a major decision win from junior Ardian Ramadani at 185 and 197 pounds, respectively.

The Huskies then shot back with two wins of their own, starting with No. 19 Joe Sapp over Kent State freshman Jermail Porter at heavyweight.

Northern Illinois No. 12 Pat Castillo defeated the Kent State’s MAC wrestler of the week, No. 16 junior Chad Sportelli.

Senior Drew Opfer, who started slowly this season following an injury, won his third straight match at 133 pounds, giving the Flashes a temporary lead of 10-6.

The Huskies were able to take over 13-10 after No. 11 Josh Wooton got a major decision win over Kent State sophomore Drew Lashaway and No. 12 Mike Grimes edged out Kent State senior Jason Bake.

From there on, there was a lead-tie seesaw between the schools.

Kent State sophomore Kurt Gross won by one point at 157 pounds over Northern Illinois’ Kalen Knull. But then Kent State junior Jason McGee lost to Northern Illinois’ Johnny Galloway 10-9, putting the Huskies back up 16-13.

“Any one could have won each match,” Gross said. “We were pretty much equal.”

The competition came down to the final match when Kent State junior Aaron Miller upset Northern’s Danny Burk 6-5 at 174 pounds.

“We were extremely proud of the way Aaron wrestled,” Kent State coach Jim Andrassy said. “He lost to Burk at the MAC tournament last year.”

Miller won by accumulating over a minute of riding time, which nudged him ahead one point, giving Burk his first loss of the season and the Flashes the tie.

Although the match didn’t result in a loss for the Flashes, they still dropped rank in the MAC. The tie puts the Huskies in first place in the MAC with a conference record of 2-0-1, slightly better than the Flashes’ 1-0-1.

Andrassy said his team out-wrestled Northern Illinois, but came up on the wrong end on several controversial officiating calls.

“We didn’t have the best referee,” Andrassy said. “I tell our guys you have to beat the ref along with the opponent, but this wasn’t one or two matches, it was four or five.”

By yesterday’s meet with Pittsburgh, Kent State was able shake off Friday’s heartbreaker. They rose to a commanding win, grabbing six of 10 matches.

Sportelli gave the Flashes momentum with an early pin over Brad Gentzle at 125 pounds.

Also getting victories for the Flashes were Gross, Miller, Camargo, Ramadani and Porter by forfeit at 157, 174, 184, 197 and heavyweight, respectively.

“It was very important to win,” Gross said of yesterday’s meet. “You can’t go out and tie a ranked team and comeback and lose to an unranked team. It’s just like taking a step back.”

Pittsburgh began the season ranked in the pre-season poll, but have fallen since then after losing several wrestlers.

“We went in there knowing they had to use some back-ups,” Andrassy said. “We knew that if we wrestled somewhat good we would win.”

Kent State will return to its home mats Saturday for the Kent State open.

Contact wrestling reporter Sean Ammerman at [email protected].