Wrestlers gave reason to believe with showing at MAC championships

Colin Harris

Kent State wrestling team had every reason in the world to go through the motions during Mid-American Conference wrestling championships.

The Flashes were coming off of a season where they were forced to deal with injury, suspension, a world-beater schedule and just plain inexperience.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

The Flashes came out and showed fire in the face of nationally-ranked competition — in the form of No. 8 Central Michigan and No. 23 Northern Illinois — notching 19 individual wins and finishing in third place. The Flashes outdid their 2004 totals of 14 wins and a fifth-place finish.

Not too shabby for a team that admittedly stumbled to the finish line of this season, losing their last six meets and nine of their last 10.

Throughout the tournament, the Flashes recorded wins from the people who have delivered for them all season, namely Tomas Rodriguez, Jason Bake and Alex Camargo. The three have all had solid seasons and all are currently being ranked in the Top 20 by a variety of publications.

Camargo, in particular, shined for the Flashes this season as he will be taking his 32-6 record to NCAA Nationals March 17-19 as the MAC’s lone Wild Card representative from Kent State. It marks the 75th consecutive year the Flashes have sent a representative to the NCAA Championships.

While they certainly did their part, the load wasn’t carried exclusively by those three, as a number of young competitors answered the call for the Flashes.

Freshmen Clayton Stark and Kurt Gross, in particular, showed that they were just beginning to make their mark on the program, with Stark going 2-2 and Gross 3-2 in tournament competition.

Stark showed a lot of grit in rebounding from a rough rookie campaign to upset two higher-seeded competitors on his way to a fourth-place finish.

Coming off of this weekend, Kent State coach Jim Andrassy has to have hope because the program has all but two members return next year.

The Flashes’ three nationally-ranked wrestlers Bake, Rodriguez and Camargo are juniors, as are both co-captains Ben Rings and Jared Opfer. The only members that will be lost from the current roster are fifth-year senior Nick Brenner and senior Nick Hiller.

It’s been a trying season for Andrassy and the Flashes, to say the least. But fingers crossed, the lessons learned this season will hopefully result in brighter days in the future.

Contact sports reporter Colin Harris at [email protected].