Kent State rolls through Ohio, Clarion to rule weekend

Richie Mulhall

The Kent State wrestling team answered the cheers of its fans by defeating rival Ohio 26-11 on Friday and Clarion 29-10 on Sunday to cap a stellar weekend at the M.A.C. Center.

The Flashes (6-3, 2-0 Mid-American Conference) have dominated Ohio (3-3, 2-2 MAC) for quite a while, as evidenced by its 45-23 all-time series lead over the Bobcats. Kent State has also now won the last 10 meetings against its Mid-American Conference rival. Flashes head coach Jim Andrassy said overall, he proud of the way his team wrestled.

“I thought our guys wrestled pretty hard,” Andrassy said. “I thought we were the aggressor team. At this point we just gotta keep working through our schedule.”

When squaring off against their more recent rival Clarion (2-5, 0-1 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference), the Flashes are behind in the series 12-10, but have won the last nine meetings since 2001.

“I thought that our guys were more aggressive,” Andrassy said. “I thought we wrestled harder, I thought that our young guys are learning how to win and our older guys do what we expect them to do.”

Fifth-year senior Stevie Mitcheff (125 pounds), who is currently ranked No. 32 in the nation by, dominated both of his matches this weekend.

“I just wanted to beat OU,” Mitcheff said. “They’re our rivals and I just wanted put on a show and just show what I’m really capable of really doing, too.”

On Friday, Mitcheff crushed his opponent with a 21-3 technical fall. He had two near falls in each of the match’s three periods. On Sunday, Mitcheff scored five takedowns in an 11-4 victory. He is now 21-9 on the season.

True freshman Mack McGuire also had a great weekend, earning a dramatic win in overtime against Ohio and an exciting pin against Clarion.

The freshman seemed to be in control in his 133-pound bout on Friday before giving up four points in the third period. With the match tied 7-7 going into overtime, McGuire finished off a shot to earn a 9-7 victory. McGuire was excited to wrestle his first varsity home match, especially in front of the packed home crowd on Friday.

“It was pretty crazy,” McGuire said. “Where I’m from, my school is not that good at wrestling. We had 15 to 20 people in our stands and they’re all parents that knew, so coming here Friday, it was pretty shocking. That’s why nerves hit me and you just feel like you have to compete because you’re wrestling for your school, and you want to do well and get that win for your team.”

On Sunday, McGuire won his match via pin. He improved his record to 19-12 and his dual meet record to 5-2.

“I just have to get mentally ready for the competition and have to be able to wrestle four or five hard matches all the way through and not stopping or getting tired,” McGuire said.

Redshirt freshman Nick Carr (149 pounds) wrestled a pair of nail-biters, going 1-1 on the weekend. He narrowly defeated his Ohio opponent 8-7 in overtime, but lost to Clarion 7-5. Carr said he was disappointed in his performance this weekend, but said he realizes the season is a learning process.

“I just had to focus on scoring points,” Carr said. “I felt like I should have never been in that position, but I’ve got learn from my mistakes.”

Senior and 157-pounder Tommy Sasfy split the weekend 1-1, picking up a 5-2 win against No. 27 Sparty Chino of Ohio. Sasfy fought hard on Sunday, but fell to No. 5 James Fleming of Clarion.

“Tommy knows he’s gonna wrestle his way,” Andrassy said. “We just have to make sure the little things that he isn’t doing or the things we improve, we just keep improving throughout. Tommy did a good job (Friday). I thought he outwrestled the kid, thought he was more physical, thought he made the guy squeal a few times, which is always nice. Overall, he did a good job.”

Sophomore Caleb Marsh (165 pounds) is quickly making noise in the 165-pound division. He overcame No. 29 Harrison Hightower 2-1 of Ohio and comfortably defeated Clarion’s Nick Milano 6-0.

Redshirt freshman and 174-pounder Sam Wheeler went 1-1 on the weekend. He did not get redemption on No. 16 Cody Walters of Ohio on Friday; however, he did earn a 7-2 victory over Clarion’s Ryan Darch.

Fifth-year senior and No. 16 Casey Newburg (184 pounds) wrestled a 6-0 shutout on Friday and a controlling 21-5 technical fall on Sunday. Newburg is now 25-4 on the year with two pins, four technical falls and four major decisions.

“I think I wrestled pretty well this weekend,” Newburg said. “I had a good week of preparation, just coming in the room I knew who I was wrestling. I knew what was coming, I knew what I had to do, just push the pace and just rely on my conditioning and just keep wrestling hard the whole match.”

Fifth-year senior and the nation’s consensus No. 1 at 197 pounds, Dustin Kilgore cruised through both his bouts this weekend via pin. Kilgore’s opponents never even saw the third period.

“I just go out there and it’s the same every time,” Kilgore said. “It’s like something just clicks in my head and it’s time to wrestle. When I get on the mat, I just love to scrap. I love wrestling, I’ve been doing it my whole life and something just changes. I just go out there with the mentality to absolutely just try to destroy anyone in my path.”

The unbeaten Kilgore now has 13 pins this season, including one in each of his last seven dual meets. He ran his winning streak to 48 and dual meet winning streak to 57. With 45 career pins, he is just one shy of Kent State’s career leader Jim Swetter.

“I just go out there and wrestle and it just ends up as a pin a lot,” Kilgore said. “Pins really don’t matter. My goal is to be a national champion again. I’m trying to do everything within my power to achieve that.”

Fifth-year senior and No. 31 Keith Witt lost his first 285-pound match to No. 17 Jeremiah Johnson of Ohio. He was able to bounce back on Sunday against Clarion’s Phil Catrucco, winning 6-1 to wrap up Kent State’s weekend sweep.

Kent State will visit its MAC rival Central Michigan Sunday in arguably its biggest dual meet of the season.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].