KENT: Jim Andrassy hasn’t seen anything like it.
In 22 years affiliated with the Kent State wrestling program, including the past nine years as coach, Andrassy has never seen the pure dominance displayed by senior 197-pounder Dustin Kilgore.
“There hasn’t been a guy this year who’s wrestled him and stayed with him,” Andrassy said of Kilgore, a fifth-year senior who is 36-0 this season. “That’s the thing that’s been most amazing about this whole run, how big of a gas tank he has. That’s a wresting term that means how great of condition he’s in, and he’s in better condition than anyone I’ve ever met before.”
In Kilgore’s final career home appearance Sunday, KSU’s career leader in victories and pins defeated two top-20 opponents at the M.A.C. Center when the Flashes hosted No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 18 Wisconsin.
Kilgore scored a 12-3 major decision over No. 9 Blake Rosholt of Oklahoma State and pinned No. 18 Jackson Hein of Wisconsin.
“It’s come down to the fact hat he’s just got to give himself challenges within each match,” Andrassy said of Kilgore, who has won 65 consecutive dual meets from the halfway mark of his freshman season through the end of his senior year. “Against [Hein], it’s the first time this year that I didn’t see him get a takedown in the first period. But then he ended up getting on top of the guy and pinned him.”
Andrassy said Kilgore, who took last season away from school with an Olympic redshirt, has an uncanny ability to recognize just when an opponent is at his most vulnerable.
“When they start to get tired, I think Dustin senses that and it gets him to go harder,” he said.
Kilgore, who is 20-0 in his career in MAC duals with nine pins, and the Flashes (10-6) will spend the next few weeks preparing for the MAC Championships on March 10 in Buffalo.
Track and field
The Flashes finished the regular season on a strong note with eight first-place finishes and a school record in Saturday’s Kent State Tune Up.
Competing against athletes from 35 schools in preparation for this weekend’s MAC Championships in Ypsilanti, Mich., junior runner Katie Reiser put her name in the KSU record book by clocking a 7.50 seconds in the 60-meter dash final.
Reiser topped former record-holder Shavae Wright, who ran 7.51 during the 2011 season.
Junior Shanequa Williams of Akron also had a big meet, recording first-place finishes in the 400-meter dash (54.43) and the 200-meter dash (24.14).
It was a disappointing start to the season last weekend when the Flashes went 0-4 in their season-opening tournament at UNC-Wilmington, dropping two games to both the host team and Virginia Tech.
“All of the things you worry about early in the season as coach of an indoor winter team, it all hit us,” KSU coach Scott Stricklin said. “Everything that could have gone wrong on our side did, and then snowballed on us.”
Stricklin said after the four games, the most glaring stats were “free bases.”
“In four games, we issued 20 walks. We hit 10 batters and we made 14 errors. That’s 44 free bases we gave our opponents. That’s 11 runs right there. You can’t win games when you do that,” he said. “It was discouraging and disappointing. In the past, we’ve overcome that. We just didn’t do a very good job of overcoming that last weekend.”
One silver lining was the debut of junior right-hander Taylor Williams, who was named this season’s first MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday.
In his first outing as the Flashes’ No. 2 starter, Williams didn’t allow a hit though six innings against UNC-Wilmington. In his 6⅓ innings, he gave up just an earned run on a hit and two walks. He also struck out five.
“We knew he’d pitch well and he helps himself so much because he’s a really good athlete,” Stricklin said of the 5-foot-11 Williams, who also played second base in junior college at Washington’s Mount Hood Community College. “He fields his position and hold runners really well. He reminds us a lot of Ryan Bores [a Strongsville native who was drafted out of KSU by the Texas Rangers in the 27th round last summer]. Just like Ryan did for us, [Williams] throws a lot of strikes and is very efficient.”
The Flashes changed their Pro Day from March 8 to March 6 at 9 a.m. in the Field House near Dix Stadium. Seniors expected to participate include offensive linemen Brian Winters and Josh Kline, kicker Freddy Cortez, cornerback Norman Wolfe, linebacker Luke Batton and quarterback Spencer Keith.
Winters, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound left tackle, will also participate in the prestigious NFL Combine in Indianapolis beginning Saturday.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.