Dustin Kilgore’s pursuit of second NCAA title falls short in close upset

Richie Mulhall

Three-time All-American and 2011 NCAA champion Dustin Kilgore’s pursuit of a second NCAA title fell two points short in a close, shocking upset Saturday night inside Well Fargo Arena.

In the third match of the NCAA Finals, Kilgore’s hopes of an undefeated, national-championship caliber season were doused by No. 2 seeded Quentin Wright of Penn State. Wright’s three takedowns in the bout lifted him over Kilgore, allowing his team to clinch their third straight NCAA team championship.

After the first period of the bout, the scored was tied 3-3 with each competitor converting takedowns. Wright chose the down position and escaped in the second period, while Kilgore chose down in the third and escaped to even the score at four. A pair of clutch third period takedowns by Wright gave him the advantage he needed to win the match 8-6, snapping Kilgore’s impressive 61-match streak.

“Dustin just couldn’t seem to get close to him, he couldn’t seem to get close to make his attacks,” head coach Jim Andrassy said of Wright’s height and reach advantage from neutral position. “Wright had a good game plan and really kept him away from Dustin and that was the difference in the match. He was just kind of waiting for Dustin, catching him and going right to attacks.”

Despite Wright’s surprising upset of Kilgore in the finals, Kilgore’s phenomenal senior season is still something of which he can be proud. Kilgore finished the season with only one loss and his 43 2012-2013 season victories broke Kent State’s single-season record, which he set in 2011.

Throughout the 2012-2013 season, Kent State’s all-time victories leader (178) racked up many other accolades that made Kent State proud. He finished his season with only one loss, and maintained a 61-match NCAA winning streak and a 65-dual-match winning streak. He also broke the record for single-season pins (18) and career pins (50).

“[Dustin has] had a great career, he’s really helped our program take that next step as far as getting kids to understand that they can do it a Kent State,” Andrassy said. “He’s one of the greatest athletes in Kent State’s history with what he’s accomplished and I’m real proud of him, I know that our program’s proud of him.”

Kilgore became the “killer” many people call him when it came to Mid-American Conference competition. He became a four-time MAC champion a couple weeks ago, becoming just the sixth wrestler in program history to accomplish this feat. He finished with a perfect 20-0 MAC duals record, including nine pins.

After graduating from Kent State in May, Kilgore will travel to U.S. Olympic Training Center, located Colorado Springs, Colo., to pursue his dream of one day becoming a future Olympian.

“I’m sure this is going to drive him to do even better at the next level, which is one of his ultimate goals,” Andrassy said. “He’s not yet done accomplishing what he wants to.”

The Flashes finished 24th in the final team standings. It was Kent State’s fourth Top 25 finish in the last five seasons.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].