Kent State grapplers sweep past opponents in Ashland duals

Sean Ammerman

The Kent State wrestling team went two for two yesterday at the Wendy’s Big Classic Duals in Ashland, topping Davidson, 40-9, and Slippery Rock, 26-12.

With the pair of wins, the Flashes moved to 10-3 and ensured their first winning season under third-year coach Jim Andrassy.

“Our program has come a long way since I’ve been in charge, and it shows that we’ve come a long way,” Andrassy said. “I’m very proud of the way our guys have handled the workouts and training.”

Davidson came into the duals 1-2-1 and was Kent State’s first opponent of the day. The Flashes dominated at all weight divisions, as demonstrated by senior Chad Sportelli’s pin in 30 seconds at 125.

Slippery Rock entered the duals with a 6-6 record that included wins over Kent State opponent Cleveland State and Mid-American Conference rival Ohio.

“We wrestled well as a team, including the guys who stepped up and filled in for the starters,” Sportelli said. “We didn’t really lose any matches we weren’t supposed to.”

Kent State handled the opposition soundly, although many of its top wrestlers sat out the match. Andrassy said he used both matches to rest some starters and give the back-ups more experience.

“Last year if we would have wrestled back-ups we would have lost these matches,” Andrassy said. “Our back-ups are wrestling as good as our starters.”

To help the wrestlers develop in weaker areas, Andrassy said he put restrictions on them to refrain from certain moves.

“I gave each kid certain things they weren’t allowed to do. We were trying to force defensive takedowns,” he said. “Our guys followed all the guidelines that were expected of them, and we still won.”

Kent State will be hard-pressed to improve on last year’s third place showing in the MAC tournament. It will have to outshine two nationally-ranked teams, including No. 6 Central Michigan and No. 23 Northern Illinois, to improve its conference standing.

Despite not being ranked nationally, the team feels it belongs at the top of the conference, Sportelli said.

“I think if everybody wrestles as good as they can, we can beat Central Michigan this year,” he said.

The Flashes will ride their three-match winning streak into Dekalb, Ill at 7 p.m. Friday to battle No. 23 Northern Illinois.

Contact wrestling reporter Sean Ammerman at [email protected].