By Michael Leonard | Record Publishing Co.
With such a young team, Kent State wrestling coach Jim Andrassy knows keeping his charges focused is of huge importance.
"Our guys are focused," Andrassy said. "With young kids, you always are concerned, but I think our guys know they have to focus on one match at a time."
That may be true, but the temptation to look ahead might have been strong for the Golden Flashes on Monday when they hosted Old Dominion at the M.A.C. Center.
After all, KSU's next dual match features The Ohio State University visiting the Golden Flashes on Thursday.
"It's a big match," sophomore Ian Miller admitted of the duel with the Buckeyes. "But the next match is always the most important, so we had to win tonight."
Kent State stayed focused and won easily over the Monarchs 25-7. The Golden Flashes won seven of the night's 10 bouts.
Kent State improved to 5-3, 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference, while ODU - who is in its first year as a MAC affiliate for wrestling - dropped to 2-5, 0-2 in the MAC.
Andrassy noted his team had faced the Monarchs early at the Virginia Duals, so it had some idea what ODU brought to the table. He said the fact ODU is now a MAC team was the big motivation for the night.
"We just want to keep the MAC thing going," Andrassy said. "We want to win the MAC title. We've got a young team, and we've got to take everything match by match."
The opening bout of the night was a battle of Northeast Ohioans at 125 pounds, as former St. Ignatius great Jerome Robinson of ODU faced Kent State's Del Vinas, a Twinsburg native. Robinson won a tight 2-0 decision.
The squads split the next two matches, as KSU's Mack McGuire won 9-6 at 133 pounds, followed by ODU's Chris Mecate winning 5-0 at 141 pounds.
From there, however, Kent State's middleweights took over as the Golden Flashes won the next six matches.
At 149 pounds, Mike DePalma started the run by winning 7-1, followed by a 7-2 by Miller at 157 pounds.
"I thought we rode really well tonight on top," Miller said. "We knew they were going to aggressive, so he had to be as well."
In just his second match back from injury, Kent State 165-pounder Tyler Buckwalter didn't know who he was wrestling until ODU's Marcus Johnson stepped on the mat. It didn't matter, as Buckwalter scored a 16-3 major decision.
"He's a lot better than some people know," Andrassy said of Buckwalter. "I'm really glad to have him back."
Things got a bit ugly for ODU at 174 pounds. Kent State's Caleb Marsh won 5-3 over Billy Curling, but during the third period of the match, Monarchs' coach Steve Martin was ejected by the referees.
With ODU already having a bench warning, the unsportsmanlike conduct call ended up costing the Monarchs two team points.
Kent State clinched the match when sophomore 184-pounder Sam Wheeler scored a 5-3 win over Austin Coburn.
At 197 pounds, Cole Baxter put the exclamation point on the run by getting the match's lone pin. He stuck ODU's Kevin Beazley in 1:54.
The heavyweight bout saw ODU's Matt Tourdot get a 3-1 win over KSU's Mimmo Lytle with a third period takedown, but it was too little, too late for the Monarchs.
Andrassy and Co. will close out 2013 by hosting the Buckeyes on Thursday at 7 p.m.
"I just think its a great opportunity for us to get some upsets," Andrassy said. "It's always good to have Big Ten team in your house."
KENT STATE 25, OLD DOMINION 7
(at M.A.C. Center)
125 -- Jerome Robinson (ODU) by dec. Del Vinas 2-0
133 -- Mack McGuire (KSU) by dec. Scot Festjo 9-6
141 -- Chris Mecate (ODU) by dec. Tyler Small 5-0
149 -- Mike DePalma (KSU) by dec. Alexander Richardson 7-1
157 -- Ian Miller (KSU) by dec. Tristan Warner 7-2
165 -- Tyler Buckwalter (KSU) maj. dec. Marcus Johnson 16-3
174 -- Caleb Marsh (KSU) by dec. Billy Curling 5-3
184 -- Sam Wheeler (KSU) by dec. Austin Coburn 5-3
197 -- Cole Baxter (KSU) pinned Kevin Beazley 1:54
285 -- Matt Tourdot (ODU) by dec. Mimmo Lytle 3-1
(Old Dominion was deducted two team points for unsportmanlike conduct.)