Kent State wrestling experienced a weekend full of streaks, leading to two victories against Ohio and Buffalo.
The Flashes started off against both opponents with long individual win streaks at the start, leading to convincing team victories each time.
“We know that our first three guys are our best three back-to-back-to-back,” coach Jim Andrassy said. “We can start it off well and end it well with our 84, 97 and heavyweight. We’ve got a few holes we need to tie up a little bit, but as a team we’re doing all right.”
At Ohio University Friday, the Flashes did more than all right as they continued their dominance of late by winning all but one match on their way to a 33-3 victory. The match featured a string of nine straight individual victories.
165-pound senior Kurt Gross started the match by defeating Ohio sophomore Kent Smith 12-4. Then 174-pound sophomore Chris Estep shut his opponent out 8-0. In the third match, 184-pound junior Eric Chine followed suit by winning a blowout 9-1.
All three matches were major decisions, and put Kent State ahead 12-0 in the early stages.
“It doesn’t put a lot of pressure on the later guys,” Chine said. “You don’t want to put pressure on the heavyweights. Basically, (we want to) have a stress-free match with our older guys so the guys that wrestle towards the end don’t have to feel the pressure of the match on their shoulders.”
The streak would continue as 197-pound junior Michael Blackwell took the mat. 14 seconds into overtime Blackwell garnered a takedown to seal the win.
Following Blackwell was the Flashes 285-pound junior Jermail Porter. Porter battled in a heated dual, jumping ahead 3-1 and holding the lead to win.
More of the same followed when 125-pound freshman Nic Bedelyon wrestled. Bedelyon struggled early in the match, but was able to pin his opponent, freshman Heath Allen, at 3:23.
133-pounds, 141-pounds and 149-pounds were no different as well.
Juniors Dan Mitcheff (133-pounds) won 8-3, Drew Lashaway (141-pounds) won 6-4 and Clint Sponseller (149-pounds) won 6-0. The three’s totals put the Flashes ahead 33-0 with one match remaining.
In the last matchup, Kent State had the opportunity to white-wash the Ohio Bobcats. 157-pound sophomore Sli Bostelman, who has struggled through injuries this season, was unable to win and wrestled to a 6-1 loss. The final in Athens was 33-3.
The match against Ohio was the second Mid-American Conference match of the year for Kent State. Head coach Jim Andrassy noted that MAC matches are tough as far as competition goes because of the timing in the schedule.
“MAC matches are kind of difficult,” Andrassy said. “We wrestle these guys in two weeks for the opportunity to wrestle for the national tournament, so you want to be able to make sure that you’re not showing them everything.
“We kind of tried to tone it down,” he added. “We let them ride a little bit longer than we normally would.”
The same style of wrestling proved to be effective once more when Kent State faced Buffalo on Sunday. The Flashes again jumped out to an early lead, this time 17-3.
Bedelyon again started off the match with a win. Early on he was taken down, falling awkwardly on the side of his head and shoulder. Bedelyon was given time to shake off the injury, and came back with a takedown and reversal to win 4-2.
Mitcheff followed with a second win 9-2, which put the Flashes ahead 6-0. Lashaway then earned a win by major decision 10-1, increasing the team lead to 10-0. Sponseller continued the trend with an 8-2 victory, and suddenly Kent State led 13-0.
Bostelman was the first to face defeat Sunday, losing 5-1 to 157-pound senior John Cummings. Bostelman held his own until late in the third period, but was unable to get a takedown.
Gross, Chine and Porter finished the match with wins, and the final score read 23-9 in favor of the Flashes.
Chine’s match was easily the most heated of the afternoon, going to the second tiebreaker in overtime to find a winner. Chine came out on top, winning by a final score of 7-5.
“I kind of started off slow on offense,” Chine said. “I just didn’t get my shots going early. Towards the end I started to shoot a little bit more.
“To put in all that work and to wrestle to double overtime, to come out losing isn’t a good feeling,” he added. “To come out on top made me feel a lot better.”
“They didn’t do a whole lot,” Andrassy said. “At one point I was counting shots and we were in the 20s and they were at four or five. You’ve got to be creative and find a way to win.
“Chine won in overtime, he was creative about it,” he added. “He did a good job.”
Estep and Blackwell lost in their decisions. Blackwell, who had faced the same opponent twice this year and defeated him, lost in overtime 5-1. Estep also lost a close match as well, losing 6-4.
Kent State will now prepare for another home match against Eastern Michigan Thursday. The Flashes are 13-4-0 overall on the season, with a 3-0-0 record in the MAC.