Updated Thu, Jan 23, 2014 3:05 pm
The Ohio Wrestling team will have Kent State right where it wants them on Friday night: on the Bobcats’ home mat where they remain unbeaten.
Ohio comes into the meet with a chance to make a statement in the Mid-American Conference. The Bobcats are currently 2-2 in the MAC and are in fifth place out of nine teams. Their losses were at the hands of the Missouri and Central Michigan, ranked first and fourth respectively within the conference.
Kent State is currently in third place in the MAC with a 2-0 record. However, their wins have come against Old Dominion and Buffalo, who combine for no conference wins thus far.
Ohio and Kent State are ranked closely coming into the match. The Flashes are currently No. 27 overall and the Bobcats are No. 32 according to InterMatWrestle.com. Ohio is led by its four wrestlers ranked in the top 20, while Kent State has three grapplers who are ranked that high.
What will make this match interesting is that none of these standout wrestlers will be competing against one another because they are all in different weight classes.
The Bobcats are led by No. 15 Tywan Claxton, 149 pounds, No. 9 Cody Walters, 174, No. 11 Phil Wellington, 197, and No. 11 heavyweight Jeremy Johnson. The Flashes, in contrast, have their strongest wrestlers being represented at 133, 157 and 184 pounds: No. 18 Mack McGuire, No. 6 Ian Miller and No. 14 Sam Wheeler, respectively.
This leaves just three weight classes where an unranked wrestler will not be attempting to come out on top as an underdog. Harrison Hightower, 165, may turn out to be a sleeper who is key to the Bobcats’ success.
Ohio and Kent State also, historically, have a bit of a rivalry on the mat. The tension between the two teams began when Kent State offered the Bobcats captain Joe Begala the head-coaching job for the Flashes in the midst of his senior season in 1929. Begala went on to win 226 college wrestling matches as the Flashes head coach and put their program on the map.
Kent State has also faced Ohio more than any other opponent. The Flashes hold the edge over the Bobcats with 47 wins and 23 losses in their 70 meetings. Ohio has lost in the last ten meetings between the two squads.
The meet takes place on Friday at 7 pm in the Convocation Center. Following the match, the Bobcats will go on a three game road trip before returning home to take on Clarion on Feb. 8.