Wrestling off to worst start in program history after loss

John Hilber, Reporter

Kent State wrestling extended its losing streak to eight games, making it the worst start in the program’s 90-season history.

The Flashes lost 25-12 to Southern-Illinois Edwardsville on Friday.

KSU’s record this season is 0-8 and have already lost more matches this season than last season.

“There are a lot of positive things to look at,” coach Jim Andrassy said. “Some of our younger guys wrestled really well. They just have to learn how to win.”

With a 0-3 record in the Mid-American Conference, Kent State sits in last place in the MAC Western Division.

SIUE moved into fifth place in the MAC Western Division following the win. The team earned its first conference win and now have a 4-5 record on the season.

“We had different guys than we had last time, which doesn’t make it any easier,” Andrassy said. “We have some guys that just didn’t wrestle very well either, to bring home a team victory.”

Kent State lost its first match to SIUE Friday. They were 6-0 all-time prior to the meeting.

Common losses

The first match of the day saw 157-pound freshman Keegan Knapp record an 11-3 major decision over redshirt freshman Caine Tyus. This gave Kent State a 4-0 lead.

Knapp’s win is his seventh of the season.

Andrassy said Knapp “Wrestled amazingly.”

In the next match, SIUE would take a 6-4 lead after freshman Bradley Gillum beat sophomore Enrique Munguia with a fall in the 165-pounder match. Munguia was back in the starting lineup after missing the previous dual against Buffalo with an undisclosed injury.

“Enrique is like that one kid that gets away with a lot of things that most wrestlers can’t get away with, and it’s all catching up to him,” Andrassy said. “Whether it’s his lifestyle, what he eats, how he cuts his weight, and even when he’s rehabbing how he didn’t do a lot of things. It all caught up to him and he looked horrible. He’s got to be able to go out and wrestle better than what he did yesterday.”

Andrassy added that “To wrestle as bad as he did yesterday is inexcusable.”

SIEU extended its lead to 9-4 after the 174-pound match. Senior Chase Diehl won on a 6-3 decision over sophomore Ashton Breen.

Kent State made it 7-9 after 184-pound redshirt senior Tyler Bates won on an 8-4 decision over senior Sergio Villalobos. This is Bates’s second win of the season.

“It got him out of a slump,” Andrassy said. “He hasn’t had the best year. He’s had a lot of losses and this was a really big win for him because it’s his first dueling win that he’s had for the year.”

The next two matches went to SIUE after senior Ryan Yarnell got a 14-3 major decision over freshman Blake Schaffer in the 197-pounder match and senior Colton McKiernan picked up a 6-0 decision over redshirt senior Jacob Cover in the heavyweights match. This made the score 16-7.

McKiernan is the No. 1 wrestler in the MAC and the No. 14 wrestler in the country for wrestlers weighing in at 285 pounds.

“Cover wrestled about as well as he could wrestle,” Andrassy said. “He does almost everything the right way. He doesn’t always have the best results that you’re looking for, but yesterday he wrestled pretty darn well for wrestling the guy that he did. I was really happy with his performance. He goes out there and just works – he’s a trooper. I have nothing but good things to say about Jake.”

In the 125-pounder match, graduate student Jake Ferri defeated senior Austin Macias on a 24-5 technical fall. This gave Kent State five points, making the score 16-12.

This is Ferri’s 13th win of the season and has won in six of his eight duals this season.

“He is the epitome of consistency, work ethic, lifestyle and he’s coachable,” Andrassy said. “There was nothing fun about what he had to endure the first two years but he continued to come back and continue to work hard and he’s gotten better. Now he’s the guy that we need for these young guys.”

Kent State would go on to lose the final three matches of the day following Ferri’s win.

In the 133-pounder match, redshirt senior Aaron Schulist had a 3-2 decision over freshman Matt Ellis.

In the next match, redshirt junior Louis Newell, who is returning from an undisclosed injury, lost by a 2-0 decision to redshirt senior Saul Ervin in the 141-pounder match.

Ervin is the No. 2 ranked MAC wrestler in the 141-pound weight class.

“He wrestled a pretty good match,” Andrassy said. “There are a few things he could have done to maybe help himself get a chance to win but I thought he wrestled hard for being injured and missing the last three matches. I can’t be upset with him, I am happy with how he performed.”

The 149-pounder match was the last match of the day. Graduate student Kody Komara lost by a score of 3-1 in a tiebreaker against sophomore Caleb Tyus. The last three losses gave SIUE three points each, making the score 25-12.

“I thought that there were too many different situations where he got bad calls and I think that cost him the match,” Andrassy said. “Kody was the aggressor and was the one who was out there creating the action. He was the one making the attempts, but the kid was very defensive. I am very proud of the way Kody performed because that is a top-quality kid that he wrestled. It was a great match.”

Young wrestlers get experience

Kent State had five underclassmen wrestlers on Friday.

Although only one of them won their match, Andrassy said “It’s exciting to see how they are going to perform.”

“We’ve had a lot of matches with our young guys where they’ve walked off the mat and they’ve felt pretty comfortable with how they competed,” Andrassy said. “And they’ve lost but that’s not a bad thing. If you’re content with a loss; that’s the issue.”

The team has two graduate students, two redshirt seniors and four seniors that will not be with the team next season.

“There are so many different messages that you can sell, with young kids losing close matches, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today before practice,” Andrassy said. “There were some really good matches yesterday, and you could start to make little excuses for them, but we still lost.”

Despite the team getting younger next year, Andrassy added that “You don’t want excuses to last, they need to go away at some point.”

Looking ahead

The Flashes will take on Clarion (9-3) Jan. 29 in the M.A.C. Center.

Clarion is 6-1 in MAC play and has a 9-3 overall record this season. They are in first place in the MAC Eastern Division.

Kent State has a 2-2 record all-time against Clarion. The Flashes won the most recent dual with a 21-16 score in last season’s matchup.

Clarion has won their last six duals and has not scored under 22 points during that span. Kent State has not scored 22 points in a dual yet this season.

Despite coming back from injuries, Newell and Munguia are not going to wrestle against Clarion, according to Andrassy.

“I don’t think Enrique’s healthy enough to wrestle yet,” he said. “I think we found that out yesterday.”

Andrassy noted that Newell is cutting weight in order to wrestle in the 133-pounder matches for the rest of the season. Andrassy said that “He’s probably not going to wrestle tomorrow because of the descent.”

With Munguia and Newell out of the starting lineup, the Flashes will play six true freshmen against Clarion.

“I hope that we can end up on top of some of these close matches,” Andrassy said. “That’s what has to happen at some point for us to make those steps that we need to. It’s really easy in college to lose close matches.”

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