Coming up this Saturday the Ohio State Buckeyes will be hosting Kent State and DePaul in a three team round robin affair. This will be the league’s first look at the Buckeyes and the Blue Demons, and a second look at the Golden Flashes.
A few weeks ago at the Summit Street Slugfest, Kent State came out firing on all cylinders, going 4-0 on the weekend. They’ll be a tough team to take out this weekend, but the Golden Flashes will be bringing a small group of rookies, who have never experienced a match before, to this tournament. Captain Dan Shackelford told me just how stoked he is to watch them play among other things by saying, “I’m very excited to see their reactions as they get thrown into the fire and hope to see a telling performance from a very promising recruitment class. We expect to lose to DePaul, but who doesn’t? I am curious as to just how competitive they play. Their program last year seemed to be going in the direction of taking matches a bit more seriously, so we will see what happens. I’m hoping to get at least one competitive point out of them for my young guys. Maybe even a couple sweet trick throws as well!” When asked about Ohio State, Dan made it clear that Kent will not be taking them lightly at all, even though they do not know much about them yet. He went on to tell me, “All I know about Ohio State is that they’re gonna be tough. Although overall a very young crew, they barely lost any players and have a very underrated group of arms.” Now knowing that Kent will have a group of rookies I could see them coming out a little slower than they did in September. On a personal level, I will love hearing about how Dan and Cam Fullmer integrate their new guys into their matches this weekend.
The Buckeyes come in with national title dark horse implications, looking to improve on a stellar performance at last year’s national tournament. OSU will have the advantage of not having to travel other than from their dorms to their rec center. Their hardest matchup this weekend will be against Kent State. Not knowing much about the history between these two teams, I asked Carlton he thinks he can keep things close and he told me, “we always do until we need one more point to tie it with little time left and end up losing the point.” Things could prove to be even rougher this year since the Buckeyes have only been playing themselves in practice up until this point in the season. It will be interesting to see if Ohio State can come out of the gates strong in their first tournament.
DePaul is coming into the weekend’s action being ranked in the preseason top 10. Though they are known for their fun loving attitude, the Demons are not devoid of talent. With leaders like Mario Romanelli at the helm, it is always a fun time trying to predict what sort of playing style the Chicago based squad will be bringing to the table. When asked how he expected his team to play, Romanelli said he expects, “the same DePaul dodgeball style. Fast, energetic and most importantly fun.” It should be very entertaining to see what DePaul does this weekend.
Predictions: Kent (2-0), OSU (1-1), Depaul (0-2)