Ashland gets early lead; Flashes can’t battle back

Colin Harris

Drew Opfer, of the 125-lb. class, squares off against James Phillips at Friday’s match against Ashland University. Opfer won the match 4-2 against Phillips despite an overall 21-16 team loss.

Credit: Beth Rankin

In the face of injuries and poor match performances, things aren’t turning out quite as expected for the Kent State men’s wrestling team.

Forced to sit four regular starters, the Flashes (7-12, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) dropped their fifth straight match Friday to Ashland (11-4) by a score of 21-16.

The night got off to a rough start for the Flashes in the first contest. Ashland’s Dugan Bentley pinned Andrew Delamarte 35 seconds into the first period in the 149-lb. match. After a major decision victory by Kent State’s Kurt Gross in the second contest, Ashland’s Eric Lakia won by a forfeit in the night’s 165-lb. contest.

Coach Jim Andrassy said that the forfeit was done as policy issue and was something that had to be dealt with immediately. The forfeit cost the Flashes six points.

“We had a player who broke some Athletic Department policy, and he had to be punished today for it,” Andrassy said.

The combination of the pin at 149-lbs. and the forfeit at 165-lbs. proved to be too much for the Flashes to overcome, even though they were able to win four of the meet’s last seven matches.

The biggest win of the night for the Flashes came at 125-lbs., as co-captain Drew Opfer defeated Ashland’s previously undefeated James Phillips by a score of 4-2.

Andrassy said that while he was pleased Opfer was victorious, he wasn’t as intense as he needed to be.

“He went out there just to win, when sometimes, that doesn’t cut it,” Andrassy said. “You got to go out there and wrestle to score as many points as possible until your guy quits on you. That way, when you walk off, you can walk off knowing that it was a good match.”

Andrassy said the team’s performance was still not at the level that they need to be going into conference play and the MAC tournament.

“Our starters won, but our backups are not where they need to be,” Andrassy said. “It’s been that way the whole year, and that’s the way it’s going to be until our backups pick it up.”

Andrassy said his team, in particular the backups, needs to realize the season is soon coming to a close. He also went on to say that the team needs to learn to wrestle while hurt, which is something they have been unable to do thus far in the season.

Opfer echoed Andrassy’s statements when asked about the team’s performance.

“We’re banged up at a few weight classes, so we’re not all there,” Opfer said. “Hopefully by (the MAC tournament), we’ll all be back together.”

Contact wrestling reporter Colin Harris at [email protected].