Miller-led Flashes get set for National Championships in Oklahoma City


Kent State’s Michael DePalma faces his final opponent at his match at the 2014 MAC Championship wrestling meet Sunday, March 8, 2014 in the M.A.C. Center. DePalma’s final defeat against an Ohio University player won him third place in his weight class.

Mike Mann

Thursday will kick off March Madness in more than just college basketball as Kent State will feature four wrestlers in the opening round of the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

Ian Miller will lead the group of wrestlers after his second career Mid-American Conference Championship on March 9.

Miller will face Edinboro’s Johnny Greishemer in the first round of the Championships. Miller won a match against Greishemer with a 10-4 decision on February 21. Miller has a chance to finish in the top of his weight class, where the bracket could lead him into a match against the No. 1 seed, James Green of Nebraska.

“You hope that things align and you hope when he’s wrestling the guys we think are tougher matches that he’s on-par and wrestles his best,” Coach Jim Andrassy said. “If he wrestles James Green in the semifinals, it’s going to be one of the more explosive semifinals of the night, maybe even the highlight of the tournament.”

Green finished the season ranked No. 2 in the 157-pound class while Miller was ranked No. 4. The two have a history of wrestling each other.

“Ian’s wrestled him a few times in high school and beat him,” Andrassy said. “It’s one of those things where he goes in knowing ‘I’ve beat this kid before.’”

Kent wrestlers Mack McGuire, Michael DePalma, and Caleb Marsh will also make the trip down to Oklahoma City for their respective weight classes.

DePalma and McGuire both placed third in their classes in the MAC Championship, earning automatic bids in the tournament. McGuire sits seeded No. 16 in the 133-pound weight class. DePalma is unseeded in the 149 class.

“If you’re not seeded, it’s always going to be tough. It’s the National Championships — you better go there and be ready,” Andrassy said. “I know that DePalma has a guy first round that he’s already beaten, although that guy’s seeded.”

DePalma will face Eric Grajales from Michigan in the first round of the tournament. DePalma won in the one match between the two with a decision of 9-5 on Nov. 16.

“It’s a different time of year; it’s a different kid,” Andrassy added. “DePalma is different than he was at the beginning of the year, so he has to go out and wrestle and he’ll be fine. He could wrestle two guys he has already faced.”

DePalma could face ex-teammate David Habat from Edinboro, a rematch of the Feb. 21 match that went to Habat in a 2-1 decision. DePalma spent the 2012-2013 season as a redshirt freshman on the Edinboro team before transferring to Kent State.

Marsh received an at-large bid in the 174-lb. class, one of only four available for the class. Marsh’s victories this season against multiple highly ranked opponents put him atop the list of those waiting to be picked.

The National Championship will last three days in Oklahoma City. Starting on March 20 and going until March 22, when the finals of each weight class will take place.

Contact Mike Mann at [email protected].