Wrestling’s poor performance against ranked opponents leads to zero placers

John Hilber, Reporter

Wrestling coach Jim Andrassy said his team did not rise to the occasion at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

“We didn’t rise to the occasion,” Andrassy said. “It’s a tough tournament. I wouldn’t say our guys weren’t ready –they just probably aren’t good enough yet, right now.”

Ten Kent State wrestlers competed at the invitational in Las Vegas Friday and Saturday. The team combined for a 12-20 record.  Only three wrestlers earned multiple wins, and three had zero wins.  

Five teams competing at the invitational were ranked in the top-10 nationally, and six teams were in the top-25. 

“It was surprising that some guys didn’t win a match,” Andrassy said. “We were good, and most guys were good enough to win at least one match, but it’s tough competition, and we’re trying to compete.”

In its first two meets of the season, at least four wrestlers finished in the top eight and at least seven wrestlers won at least one match. 

Kent State placed 21st out of 33 teams Saturday, recording 14.5 points over the meet. The Flashes had zero top-eight finishers in their bracket.

Familiar leaders

Three wrestlers from Kent State competed and lost in one match Saturday: 

  • Graduate student Jake Ferri, who wrestled in the 125-pound bracket, went 2-1 Friday. He followed up his 18-5 over Harvard’s junior Cole Bayless with a 5-3 decision over North Carolina State’s redshirt junior Jarrett Trombley. He lost his final match Friday. 
  • Kody Komara, Kent State’s only other graduate student, finished Friday’s competition with a 3-1 record in the 149-pounder bracket. He won in the opening round with an 11-6 decision over Sacred Heart’s senior Matt Laurie. In the next round, Komara lost in a 3-2 decision against Ohio’s graduate student Alec Hagan. He won his next two matches.
  • Enrique Munguia, who posted a 3-1 record in the 165-pounder bracket won his first match Friday in a 5-3 decision over Hofstra’s freshman Jurius Clark. He then lost in the next round to Oregon State’s redshirt sophomore Matthew Olguin in a 12-4 major decision. Munguia finished the day by winning his next two matches.

“I felt like Kody and Jake and Enrique would place,” Andrassy said. “Jake and Enrique were seeded top eight and they didn’t place so it was a little bit upsetting.”

Ferri had placed in his team’s two prior meets.  He did not wrestle in the Clarion Open but won his bracket at the Mountaineer Invitational on Nov. 12. He earned a fourth-place finish at the Navy Classic Nov. 19.

Komara, who also did not participate in the season-opening Clarion Open, has placed in each of the two events he has wrestled in this season. He had a fifth-place finish in the Mountaineer Invitational and a third place finish in the Navy Classic.

The Cliff Keen Invitational was Munguia’s first meet without a top-eight finish this season. He has won his bracket twice – in the season opener and the team’s latest meet Nov. 19.

Andrassy also said redshirt senior Jake Cover, who finished the day with a 1-2 record, could have “wrestled a little bit better”.

“Cover does everything right – he is a great guy and is probably one of the smartest wrestlers I’ve ever coached,” Andrassy said. “  He went out there and he did everything he could to win, and he didn’t.”

Andrassy said sophomore Aaron Ferguson was “a positive note” for the Flashes over the weekend.

Ferguson finished the day with a 1-2 record, his win coming from a 9-1 major decision over Hofstra’s sophomore Eric Shindel. Due to his record, Ferguson did not compete on Saturday.

“This was his first college event that he was with the team,” Andrassy said. “He went and he wrestled and I was happy with how he competed against the guys that he lost to. He can be really good in college if he keeps getting better.”

Tough matches are valuable

Andrassy said the meet was “a great experience” for the Flashes. 

“We were playing guys in this tournament that are going to be national champs,” he said, “and we competed at that event with them.”

No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Arizona State, No. 5 Michigan and No. 8 North Carolina State were among the 33 teams which competed.  

Ohio State, Arizona State, and Michigan each had one wrestler win their bracket, and North Carolina State had two.

Andrassy noted that wrestling nationally ranked opponents would make it harder for the men to place. 

“It seems like the gap is widening between the really good guys compared to the mid-major teams, and I think that one of our goals is to always make that gap smaller,” he said.

We need to forget the bad matches, try to remember some of the good things, forget the bad stuff and strive to improve.”

Kent State competes next at No. 3 Ohio State Dec. 11. 

This will be Kent State’s first one-on-one meet of the season. They are 0-6 against Ohio State all-time.

“Most of our guys work really hard,” He said. “They train really hard and they do a lot of great things. They’re trying to be as good as they are.” 

John Hilber is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].