KSU wrestling ready to unleash the “beast” against Cleveland State and Edinboro


Kent State wrestled against Clarion State on Jan. 20, 2013, taking the win with a final score of 29-10. Photo by Chloe Hackathorn.

Richie Mulhall

The Kent State wrestling team (8-4, 4-1 MAC) faces the home stretch of its schedule this weekend and is ready to unleash the “beast” against Cleveland State (3-6) Friday in the M.A.C. Center’s Beauty and the Beast event. The Flashes are also set to take on No. 16 Edinboro (8-4) Sunday on the road.

The matches

Ranked No. 21 in the nation by InterMat, the Flashes are coming off two shaky performances last weekend. Battle-tested Kent State fought off a 15-6 deficit early in last Friday’s match to secure a 24-15 over Eastern Michigan.

On Sunday, the Flashes found themselves in trouble yet again, trailing Buffalo 19-3 midway through the match. The heavier wrestlers were able to rally late in the meet to narrowly overcome Buffalo 22-19.

This weekend, the Kent State wrestlers must get off to a better start and try not to dig themselves into any holes early on, especially Sunday when they face Edinboro, an esteemed wrestling program.

Overall, the Flashes are 17-8-1 against Cleveland State; however, this record can be viewed as misleading since Kent State hasn’t defeated Cleveland State in the past eight meetings.

When squaring off against Edinboro, the competition heats up. The overall record between the two teams is split at 4-4. The Flashes hope to break the tie this weekend and prove they are the superior team. This match will be the first meeting between the Flashes and Fighting Scots since 1996.

The brief lineup & heroes of last week

Last Sunday against Buffalo, fifth-year senior Stevie Mitcheff (125 pounds) was unable to compete due to illness. He said he returned to the wrestling room this week and has been resting and staying hydrated to prepare for his upcoming matches.

“I’m feeling a little better, but I’m still getting my strength back and getting back in the wrestling room,” Mitcheff said. “It’ll be good to be back [this weekend].

Kent State’s four heroes of last week are also ready to get back on the mat and repeat their performances from last weekend. Redshirt freshman Sam Wheeler and fifth-year seniors Casey Newburg, Dustin Kilgore and Keith Witt all went 2-0 last weekend, and their victories helped cap a great come-from-behind win last Friday — probably one of the most amazing comebacks the Kent State wrestling program has ever seen last Sunday.

Wheeler (174 pounds) won both of his matches last weekend, one of which was via injury decision 19-9. Wheeler is 21-9 overall, 8-4 in duals and 4-1 in the MAC.

Ranked No. 17 by InterMat at 184 pounds, Newburg won 5-3 against Eastern Michigan last Friday, and he dominated his Buffalo opponent 12-3 last Sunday to earn his fifth major decision of the season.

Newburg is 29-5 this season and is now sixth and is now sixth on Kent State’s list of all-time winning wrestlers. He has racked up 114 wins during his five-year career at Kent State and seeks wins 115 and 116 this weekend.

“Edinboro’s a top 25 team,” Newburg said. “A lot of their guys are good at scoring bonus points, so when it gets up to the older guys on our team, the more experienced guys, we gotta look for those bonus points cause that’s what makes the difference in a lot of close dual meets, and that’s what made the difference in the last two dual meets we’ve had.”

Still ranked No. 1 in the nation and undefeated this season, Kilgore (197 pounds) won via technical decision last Friday and then crushed his Buffalo opponent via pin in just 45 seconds.

The unstoppable Kilgore brings his perfect 32-0 overall season record to the M.A.C. Center and Edinboro this weekend and seeks to extend his NCAA winning streak to 53 and his dual winning streak to 63.

With 16 pins on the season, Kilgore is also attempting to break Kent State’s single-season pins record set by Jim Swetter. If Kilgore gets one pin this weekend, he will tie Swetter, but two pins will establish Kilgore as both the all-time pins leader and single-season pins leader, which is just another accolade upon which Kilgore can hang his hat.

The final hero of last weekend who sealed up Kent State’s dramatic come-from-behind victory is 285-pounder Witt. Last weekend, Witt did not even give up a point, going 3-0 against Eastern Michigan and 6-0 against Buffalo.

Witt’s two shutouts boosted his season record to 14-13 and his dual meet record to 5-7. He is also 2-3 in the MAC thus far this season.

The Beauty and the Beast event

Friday in the M.A.C. Center, the storied arena will host the first-ever Beauty and the Beast event, which will feature the Kent State-Cleveland State wrestling match and a Kent State gymnastics meet at the same time.

During the event, Beauty and the Beast characters will interact with fans, and afterward, Kent State wrestlers and gymnasts will be signing autographs.

The Beauty and the Beast event Friday is set to begin at 7 p.m., and Sunday’s action against Edinboro is slated to begin at 1 p.m.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].