Kent State opened the 2013 season with a narrow 193.625-193.575 loss at Iowa State, the smallest deciding difference for the program in a dual meet in over three years.
The Golden Flashes split the four events with Iowa State, coming away victorious in the vault and bars. Posting the win in the vault was sophomore Whitnee Johnson with a score 9.825. Senior Lauren Wozniak took second, while senior Felicia Charles and sophomore Chelsea Drooger tied for third.
Earning the win in the uneven bars for Kent State was senior Rachel Guida with a 9.825. Other strong performances on the night included a second-place finish (9.725) on the balance beam by junior Marie Case, and a runner-up effort in the floor exercise by Case (9.825).
"It's always difficult to start the season on the road, but I couldn't be more proud of the girls' effort with all things considered," said veteran Flashes coach Brice Biggin. "It wasn't what we expected to happen, which made the loss much more difficult. We hit 22 of our 24 routines, but things just didn't end up in our favor. I felt good about our performance."
Kent State will return to action Saturday at Penn State in a meet that also includes Minnesota and Towson. It will be showcased on television on the Big Ten Network.
Defending champion Kent State (4-3) scored impressive victories over Arizona State (26-12) and No. 25 Old Dominion (27-6), before falling to Boise State 27-12 for a sixth-place finish at the Virginia Duals Saturday inside the Hampton Coliseum.
"We did a good job of really grinding it out in a lot of matches," KSU coach Jim Andrassy said. "We wrestled really well in the first two duals today and pretty good last night against Virginia Tech -- they're just better than us. We beat the No. 6 and 8 seeds in this tournament, so it was not a bad weekend."
With the team score tied 6-6 after four matches against Old Dominion, senior Tommy Sasfy (157) ignited the Flashes with an upset over No. 18 John Nicholson. Trailing 1-0 to start the third period, an escape halfway through the period and a takedown at the edge of the mat made the difference for Sasfy in a 3-2 victory.
Sasfy's match was the first of six straight Kent State victories, which included one of senior Dustin Kilgore's three pins on the day at 197. None of Kilgore's three opponents even made it to the third period, including No. 8 Jake Meredith of Arizona State. The Flashes' career-victory leader extended his winning streak to 46 matches and ran his season pin total to 11.
"Outside of the top four guys in the country, I don't think anyone else can come close to him," Andrassy said. "Most guys get banged up and bruised by this point in the season, but I don't think he's been fazed by anything."
Also putting together a strong weekend was senior Casey Newburg (184), who went 4-1 over two days. Newburg did not surrender a takedown all weekend, even in his loss to No. 11 Jake Swartz.
Senior Stevie Mitcheff (125), freshman Mack McGuire (133) and sophomore Caleb Marsh (165) all won two matches on the day.
On the opening day at the Virginia Duals, the Flashes took nine matches from VMI in a 44-3 victory before falling to Virginia Tech 26-9 in the quarterfinals. Kilgore and Newburg had KSU's only two wins against the Hokies.
Kent State jumps back into Mid-American Conference competition Friday, hosting rival Ohio at 7 p.m.
INDOOR TRACK & FIELD
Kent State showed no signs of rust at the Doug Raymond Invitational held at the Kent State Field House on Saturday, the team's first competition following a five-week layoff.
The Golden Flashes took top honors in 11 events on the day, with school records nearly being broken in two of those events.
In her first collegiate meet, freshman Dior Delophont from France recorded the nation's third-best mark in the women's high jump this season by clearing 6-0.5 to win the event. Delophont was unsuccessful on her two attempts to clear 6-2, which would have been the best jump in the nation. Her 6-0.5 mark ranks second in school history.
Fellow freshman Cody Jones captured the title in the men's high jump, clearing 6-7.
Sophomore Ann Marie Duffus from Jamaica had another impressive outing, claiming a pair of titles. Duffus clocked an 8.51 in the women's 60-meter hurdles, which is .08 off the school record and just behind her time at the season-opening Golden Flashes Gala (8.50). Freshman Kailyn Arcury took third in the event.
Duffus was also victorious in the long jump, tying the No. 3 mark on the school's all-time list by clearing 19-2.5. Roseanne Erickson finished second (18-11.75).
The Flashes completed the sweep of jumps on the women's side as Keri Dantley took first-place in the triple jump with a mark of 39-2.5. Joh'vonnie Mosley won the shot put with a personal best toss of 53-3, while Danniel Thomas took third (48-4).
In the men's weight throw, Matthias Tayala (63-11.75) and Michael King (53-9) both had personal best throws to finish second and third, respectively.
On the track, the Flashes swept the 400-meter dash. Brandon Bailey captured the men's title with a time of 48.76, while Shanequa Williams won the women's race in 55.59. Erica Hutson clocked a 57.24 to give the Flashes a 1-2 finish.
Kent State won three distance events on Saturday. Marteze Roper completed the 1,000-meter run in 2:27.25, and former Stow High School star Michael Heller won the 3,000-meter run in 8:36.99. Melinda Sawnor claimed the title in the 1-mile run in 5:05.48, while Andrew Goodwin was runner-up in the men's mile (4:17.93).
Kent State will compete at the Akron Dual on Friday.
Kent State senior first baseman George Roberts and junior pitcher Tyler Skulina have been named Louisville Slugger Pre-Season All-Americans by the writers of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Roberts is the First-Team first baseman, while Skulina earned Second-Team honors.
Roberts batted .364 with eight home runs, 23 doubles and 66 RBI for Kent State in his junior season to earn Mid-American Conference Player of the Year honors. He was also named a Louisville Slugger Second-Team All-American last season.
Skulina went 11-3 in 18 starts for the Flashes in 2012. The righty struck out 106 batters in 107.1 innings while only issuing 45 walks. Skulina was also named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Pre-Season Second-Team, as was chosen No. 78 in College Baseball Daily's Top 100.