The Kent State wrestling team is eager to get back to action and prove it is better than last year’s 6-12 record.
The Flashes finished ninth out of 15 teams at the MAC Championships, and its season was stopped in March due to COVID-19, less than a month before the NCAA Championships were set to occur.
“Our dudes are just hungry to get back to competition on the mats,” coach Jim Andrassy said. “Our number one goal is to just finish the season.”
He said they were not able to practice once together as a full team over the summer due to several players being quarantined at the same time. He mentioned that almost every player has had to quarantine at least once, but declined to say if any players tested positive for the virus.
Senior 125-pounder Jake Ferri said the team has followed all safety protocols and even breaks out into small groups in the shorter practices they have held to limit possible exposure to COVID-19.
For a few weeks at the beginning of the school year, the team was only permitted to do conditioning drills. Players had to workout on their own time and were not allowed to wrestle against each other during that time.
Ferri said the practices he has been to have been more intense than last season, he attributes that to the team being more experienced and better. He said this is by far the best and most experienced team he has had in his time here. They often play handball at the beginning of practice because it is a good team-bonding exercise.
“As one of the seniors, I just try to lead by example and be the best mentor I can be for the underclassmen,” Ferri said. He mentioned that the upcoming condensed season should be a good thing for the underclassmen because they will be more well rested and more prepared to start their college careers.
Ferri went 19-3 last year as he competed as an unattached student-athlete, meaning he participated in competition but was not affiliated with a school even though he is on KSU’s team.
“I am confident in my chances to beat anyone,” Ferri said.
Andrassy had high praise for 184-pounder Andrew McNally, calling him “one of the best people he has coached at KSU and the star of the team.”
McNally finished last season 31-7 and was on an 18-match win streak before losing in the MAC tournament final. He led the team in wins and would have qualified for the national tournament if the season had not been cancelled.
Andrassy said this year’s team will have between four and six new freshmen starting, which is not typical. In college wrestling, it is rare for freshmen to get playing time, so they often redshirt unless they are good enough to compete right off the bat.
“There is always room to get better,” Andrassy said. “Last year, we had an average team. But some of our guys took the initiative to get better this offseason and I am expecting better results.”
Sean is a sports reporter. Contact him at email@example.com.
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