Backup blues

Colin Harris

Inexperienced Flashes face Ashland in last non-conference meet

Junior Alex Camargo wrestled against Virginia’s Kyle Narkiewicz last Saturday at the M.A.C. Center. The wrestling team faces Ashland tonight at 7 p.m.

Credit: Andrew popik

For coach Jim Andrassy and the Kent State wrestling team, being forced to rely on backups and inexperienced players has been a major problem.

Because of injuries and other in-house situations, the Flashes (7-11, 1-1 MAC) have been forced to play several backups and young players who can’t match the competitive experience or talent level of the regular starting lineup.

“(Against Virginia) The intensity level out of the backups was just inexcusable,” Andrassy said. “These guys that are backups aren’t good enough to go out there and wrestle poorly (and win).”

The Flashes need to see a better performance as they host Ashland University (10-3) at 7 tonight at the M.A.C. Center in their last non-conference meet of the year.

With the team being close to 100 percent healthy and getting their starting rotation back to full-strength still a little while away, Andrassy said the team is going to have to work to find ways to win the upcoming meets, especially this weekend’s match with the Eagles.

“It’s going to come down to (a few individual matches),” Andrassy said. “Drew (Opfer) is wrestling an undefeated kid. If he isn’t wrestling his best, he probably won’t beat him. Nick Hiller has had success at the junior college level, but he hasn’t had as much success at the Division-I level. Hopefully, he can beat a Division-II guy who is above average.”

The pains they are experiencing are something that is expected when you are forced to play so many different people, Andrassy said. Against Virginia, the Flashes were forced to insert two players into the lineup who weren’t on the match list prior to the meet.

“When you’re dealing with backups, you’re going to go through some of these times,” Andrassy said. “That’s where we’re at right now. Hopefully by the end of the year, we’ll have our whole team back.”

The frustrating thing about their recent play, Andrassy said, was that he knows the team is capable of playing well when healthy.

“When we had our full team out there, like when we wrestled (nationally ranked) Northern Illinois, it was right down to the wire,” Andrassy said. “We beat Tennessee-Chattanooga, who has been a ranked team. However, when we have one or two guys out, we just don’t play as well.”

Andrassy said that one of the biggest problems the team has had this season has been having to compete without co-captain Ben Rings. Rings adds leadership to Kent State’s young lineup. When Rings isn’t there, the Flashes’ experience suffers, Andrassy said.

The worst-case scenario is Rings would be back by the MAC Tournament, but there is a chance that if all goes well, he could be able to compete in the season-finale against Central Michigan.

Contact wrestling reporter Colin Harris at [email protected].