Tyler Small and Ian Miller shine in National Collegiate Open

Richie Mulhall

In the annual National Collegiate Open, a postseason championship event that featured some of the most talented, young collegiate wrestlers in the nation, Kent State redshirt junior Tyler Small and redshirt sophomore Ian Miller took home titles in their respective weight classes.

At 141 pounds, Small bested Maryland’s Shyheim Brown 3-2 in the final. Miller, competing at the 157-pound class, defeated Pittsburgh’s Donnie Tasser via forfeit in final round action.

Last season, Small went 4-1 in MAC duals, 14-5 in dual meets and won the 141-pound MAC Championship, where he was not scored on once. Winning the MAC Championship earned Small an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, where he went 2-2.

At 149 last season, Miller boasted a 14-1 dual meet record, 3-0 MAC dual record and the status of MAC Freshman of the year for the 2011-2012 season. He also became the first Kent State wrestler since 2008 to win a MAC Championship as a true freshman, going 3-0 with a major decision in his final match.

The NCO event serves as an opportunity for young Division I athletes, who are not wrestling in their conference championships, to make a name for themselves. The event is traditionally known for redshirt wrestlers, but it can often include accomplished and seasonal wrestlers who were unable to make their program’s starting lineup.

Kent State has always found success in the NCO. The Flashes have produced the most NCAA All-Americans at a single NCO Championship (eight in 2008), and is tied for the second most NCO champions (two) at a single NCO Championship. This past weekend, Kent State and Lehigh were the only two teams to have multiple wrestlers crowned champions.

The Flashes return to action March 10 for the MAC Championship in Buffalo, N.Y.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].