Wrestling earns first win of the season in 23-point victory

John Hilber, Reporter

The Kent State wrestling team won its first dual of the season in a 32-9 win against Bloomsburg Sunday on senior day.

“It’s the best we’ve wrestled as a team,” coach Jim Andrassy said. “It’s the first time we’ve all wrestled pretty well, at one time, which is important.”

Kent State won its last dual of the season to make its record 1-12 on the season. The team also received its first win against a Mid-American Conference opponent. KSU has a 1-7 conference record on the year.

The team remains at last place in the MAC Western Division.

“It was good for us to come together,” graduate student 125-pounder Jake Ferri said. “This whole year I’ve known we’ve had a very capable team – a team that’s very, very dangerous, very capable of doing some damage. We just had a rough go around, and we couldn’t get completely in sync. We’ve had some injuries and confidence issues, but I still believe in this team. It is the best we’ve ever wrestled as a team.”

Bloomsburg fell to a 4-10 overall record on the season following the loss. The team has an 0-5 record against MAC opponents and are tied for last place in the MAC Eastern Division.

Kent State remains undefeated against Bloomsburg all-time with a 4-0 record.

The team’s 32 points is its highest this season, with its previous high being 21 points in a loss to Navy on Jan. 14.

KSU’s nine points given up was the least the team has given up this season.

Plenty of wins

Kent State lost the first match of the day and then went on to win eight of the last nine matches.

The opening match was the 141-pounder match. Freshman Pablo Castro IV lost to Bloomsburg’s Josh Mason in a 3-2 decision. This gave Bloomsburg a 3-0 lead.

Graduate student Kody Komara would tie the match at three with a 3-2 decision over Cade Balestrini in the 149-pounder match.

Kent State then took the lead after the 157-pounder match on freshman Keegan Knapp’s 18-7 major decision victory over John Reho.

“He’s a goer, he just scores a lot of points,” Andrassy said. “He works really hard and he’s got a motor. He’s in really good shape, and he doesn’t get tired which helps out his wrestling.”

This was Knapp’s 10th win of the season. Only one freshman on the team has more wins than Knapp. He is tied for fifth on the team in total wins.

“He was better than that opponent,” Andrassy said. “We expected him to win and he did it, which is good. Winning is not easy.”

The win gave Kent State four points, making the score 7-3.

The lead would be enhanced in the 165-pounder match where sophomore Enrique Munguia defeated Trenton Harder in a fall. Munguia won in one minute and 20 seconds.

“He just was aggressive today,” Andrassy said. “He went out and he was aggressive and when he’s not aggressive, he’s not very good. It’s like he’s been waiting for things to happen in matches instead of going out and making them happen like he did today. And if he can keep that up, I think he’s the second best guy in the conference.”

Munguia has the team’s highest win total with 20 wins. The Flashes earned six points for the win and went up 13-3.

In the 174-pounder match, senior Mason Karpinski beat the Huskies’ Anthony DeRosa in a 3-1 decision.

Karpinski won his second match of the season and gave Kent State three more points.

The score was 16-3.

Redshirt senior Tyler Bates earned a 6-0 shutout against Buridano Stolfi in the 184-pounder match to extend the lead.

This was Bates’s third win of the season and gave KSU three points, making the score 19-3.

Bloomsburg had no healthy wrestler to compete against freshman Blake Schaffer in the 197-pounder match, and had to forfeit as a result.

The forfeit cost Bloomsburg six points, making it 25-3 and Schaffer earned his 15th win of the season.

In the heavyweight match, redshirt senior Jacob Cover was defeated by Shane Noonan by a fall four minutes and 45 seconds into the match.

Bloomsburg earned the six points back and made the score 25-9.

KSU got back to winning in the 125-pounder match.

Ferri won on a 14-6 major decision over Bronson Garber.

“I just have to scrap – that’s all I know how to do,” Ferri said. “I just go out and wrestle hard to try to put up as many takedowns as I can.”

The win was Ferri’s 16th of the season.

Ferri, who surpassed 100 career wins on Thursday against Cleveland State, said his career has been “a wild ride.”

“I don’t think I was a guy that was ever supposed to be doing as much as I ended up doing,” he said. “I had a really rough couple of first years but I stayed on course. I owe my coaches, this team and the university because they still believed in me. They did what they could to help me get there and figure it out. I know I wouldn’t change a damn thing.”

The win made the score 29-9.

In the last match of the day, redshirt junior Louis Newell defeated Cole Rhone in a 7-3 decision in the 133-pounder match.

“Newell beat the number two guy in the conference pretty handily,” Andrassy said. “That was the biggest win he’s had and it was just a good win for him, so I’m excited for him. I think at Cleveland State he kind of ran out of gas, but he did a better job today.”

Newell won his sixth match of the season and gave Kent State the final three points of the day, making the final score 32-9.

The Flashes won eight out of the 10 matches and did not lose a match in between the 149-pounder and 197-pounder matches.

“It’s just consistency with all 10 Guys,” Andrassy said. “It’s something we’ve been talking about the whole year. We’ve had one or two guys not do what they’re supposed to do and it’s kind of affected us.”

Looking ahead

Kent State will wrestle next in the MAC tournament in Fairfax, Virginia. The tournament starts Friday March 3 and goes until March 4.

“It’s just clearing ties, getting in and then getting into our shots and scoring from it – we’re a pretty aggressive team,” Andrassy said. “All year we attack and we tried to score points. A lot of times we’re getting stopped while we’re trying to score points. So we’re going to try to make everything fast.”

Last season, Komara won the finals at the MAC tournament at 149 pounds and Kent State finished in seventh place with 71.5 team points.

“If we’re wrestling our best, we’re a top three to four team,” Andrassy said. “We have to get some of the guys that haven’t done very well to win matches there and not give up pins and not give up major decisions against other teams so they can’t score points.”

With the season coming to an end, Andrassy said that it has been “a learning experience.”

“For me it’s on paper the worst season I’ve ever had, but at the same time, I don’t believe that it’s the worst team I’ve ever had,” he added. “I am proud of the seniors – we’ve had some guys do pretty amazing things. We haven’t won as much as we would have liked to this year, but we wrestled better.”

“A big reason why I came back this year was because I believe we could be the best team I’ve ever been on,” Ferri said. “I don’t think it’s too late to prove that this upcoming tournament.”

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