MAC-champion Ian Miller has eyes on national title


Kent State’s Ian Miller prepares for his next move in his final match of the MAC Championship Sunday, March 9, 2014. Miller defeated his opponent from Central Michigan and finished first in his weight class, winning him a Mid-American Conference title.

Michael Mann

From an early age, sophomore Ian Miller’s uncles and dad, all “multiple time Ohio state [wrestling] champions,” sparked the interest of a young Miller to pursue the path of a wrestling lifestyle.

Now into his third year of wrestling for the Flashes, Miller’s motivation continues as he currently holds two Mid-American conference championships under his belt and is now focused on something bigger—a national title.

“I love to win,” Miller said.

While it seems like a basic motive for any athlete, it is something Miller has accomplished himself throughout his career as a wrestler.

After finishing in second place in the 135-pound weight class in Ohio state championships to finish his sophomore season, Miller added some mass and moved up a weight class for his junior year at Oak Harbor High School in Oak Harbor, Ohio. Miller finished with a 41-1 record in the 142-pound class and earned the title of state champion in 2010.

Miller holds the school record in five categories at Oak Harbor, including most career victories with 173 and most in a season with 51 wins his senior year.

Coming off such an outstanding high school career, Miller quickly took the collegiate wrestling world by storm. Miller was ranked No. 2 among college wrestling recruits in his weight class. He won the Mid-American Conference Championship as a true freshman in 2012, being the first Kent wrestler to do that since 2008. Miller was also named MAC wrestler of the year his freshman season.

With that career history already, Miller credits those who have been there from the beginning, through this year’s MAC Championship and his second trip to the National Championships.

“The support I have from my family, they’re at everything,” Miller said. “My grandfather Tom is at every dual meet, no matter where it is. They travel all across the country to see me wrestle.”

Fishing is one of Miller’s go-to forms of relaxation when he’s not spending his time in the weight room or on the mat.

“When it’s nice out I love to go fishing, it’s really relaxing,” Miller said. “When [Dustin] Kilgore was here, I was his roommate. When we weren’t wrestling we were fishing somewhere.”

Being roommates with Dustin Kilgore didn’t only allow the two to fish together, but allowed the former national champion to influence Miller’s career as well.

“We still talk, he calls me, and we talk all the time,” Miller added. “He’s going to be out at Nationals. We’re pretty close.”

Miller finished this season ranked No. 5 in the nation in his 157-pound weight class, but his talents do not get the best of him when with the team in practice.

“I’m the jokester, especially with Cole [Baxter],” Miller said as Baxter crept up behind him and slapped his back and ran away. “I’m really laid-back. I’m not the teammate that’s up in everyone’s face.”

Miller heads into the National Championships in Oklahoma City as the fourth seed, facing John Greisheimer from Edinboro. Miller beat Greisheimer in Kent State’s final regular season match just two weeks ago when Greisheimer was ranked No. 18 nationally.

“It doesn’t hurt him, that’s for sure,” coach Jim Andrassy said when asked if seeing an opponent so closely together helped Miller. “He knows he’s going to wrestle a guy he’s beat up on pretty good.”

“We’re excited for him to get down there and start wrestling. He’s never been an All-American,” Andrassy said.

Becoming an All-American in collegiate wrestling happens when placing among the top eight spots in the Championships for a wrestler’s weight class, something Andrassy thinks Miller can even surpass.

“We’re trying to make Ian understand he can do more than be an All-American,” Andrassy said. “He has to believe it and go in there wanting to be more than that. There’s a huge difference between placing eighth and third going into your next year.”

Miller’s journey for a title will begin on March 20, on one of the eight wrestling mats set up in Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma. The Championships will span three days, with the finals taking place on Saturday, March 2, — The day Ian Miller hopes to stand upon the first place podium.

Contact Michael Mann at [email protected].