Kent State’s wrestling team started off its decade of competition on Tuesday with a 25-15 home victory against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

The Flashes are off to a 5-7 record, including a 1-2 record in the Mid-American Conference matches.

Coach Jim Andrassy returned for his 17th season as the head coach for the Flashes, looking to improve on the squad’s 7-15 record last season. In the 2018-19 campaign, the Flashes particularly struggled in conference, posting a 1-6 record.

Andrassy will enter the new decade with one senior, Shane Mast, who won ten matches last year, including six dual meets. Alongside Mast is fifth year Tim Rooney, who has had a rather decorated career at Kent. Last season, Rooney won the 133-pound title at the Cougar Clash in Virginia and earned an automatic NCAA bid by placing third at the MAC Championships, going 3-1 with a pin. 

Kent State wrestling

Kent State competes with Michigan State on Saturday Nov. 16. Photo is courtesy of Kent State athletics. 

This season, Andrassy preached consistency to his team that is widely composed of underclassmen wrestlers. With the youthfulness of the group, he is focused on preaching the values of working hard and being tough enough to wrestle at the collegiate level. Throughout the season, Andrassy hosts “skull sessions” where the players and coaches are brutally honest with each other on their performances, efforts and where they leave room for improvement.

On Friday morning at the Virginia Duals, the Flashes drew the Virginia Cavaliers, the program that is ranked No. 22 in the latest NCAA top-25. The Flashes had to wrestle Jack Mueller, who is currently the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the nation at 125 pounds. The Flashes dropped that match 23-12.

However, things would look up for the young bunch as they won Friday afternoon’s match against the University of Pennsylvania 27-12.

“In all four matches this week, our guys all fought hard in every match that they wrestled,” Andrassy said. “You could tell that in all four matches, winning was important to them.”

Winning certainly was important, as the Flashes beat the University of Maryland 25-15 on Saturday afternoon. Saturday night, the team lost to Fresno State 16-15, but still managed to finish in fourth place at the Virginia Duals, certainly a bright spot this season for the young Flashes.

“I thought in every situation our kids fought as hard as they could,” Andrassy said. “Winning is contagious.” 

This weekend, the Flashes will host the Ohio University Bobcats on Friday and the University of Missouri Tigers on Sunday.

Contact Nick Pedone at npedone1@kent.edu.

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