Kent State kicks off first home dual meet with victory over Northern Illinois

Richie Mulhall

Ranked No. 23 in the nation by InterMat, the Kent State wrestling opened its first home dual meet of the season with a decisive 29-9 victory over Mid-American Conference opponent Northern Illinois University.

The Golden Flashes began their defense of the 2011 MAC title by winning 7-of-10 matches, including six straight matches from 149 pounds to 197 pounds. Kent State has defeated Northern Illinois in seven straight seasons. The Golden Flashes now lead the the all-time series 19-5-2.

“We beat a team that we were better than,” head coach Jim Andrassy said. “We should have beat them, and we went into it knowing we’d win and we did.”

Andrassy said he thought that his squad did what they were supposed to do and beat a team that they were better than.

“We did what we were supposed to do and our guys went out and kind of overwhelmed them,” Andrassy said. “I thought we were better than (Northern Illinois) going into it, so everything worked out. (The wrestlers) wrestled the way they should, and that’s what’s important.”

Fifth-year senior Stevie Mitcheff (125 pounds) kicked off the meet with a 10-0 shutout and major decision over Northern Illinois’ Derek Elmore. Mitcheff had two takedowns in each of the first two periods before he scored a reversal and a near fall in the third to finish his opponent.

“It’s definitely good to get a win and try to get back on track and get a good win streak going to move forward,” Mitcheff said. “If you take a loss and try to learn from and take a win, it’s a good confidence booster to build and go forward.”

Two wrestlers later, six straight matches were won by Kent State. The string of victories began with redshirt freshman Nick Carr at 149 pounds. Carr made his M.A.C. Center debut and started his match slow with a 3-2 deficit. However, he bounced back and was able to top Rob Jillard 10-4.

Sophomore Caleb Marsh (165) and fifth-year senior Mallie Shuster (157 pounds) were next. Marsh and Shuster both scored 8-2 victories and determinedly handled their opponents. Shuster’s victory leaves him now just three wins away from becoming the 13th member of Kent State’s 100-victory club.

Redshirt freshman Sam Wheeler (174 pounds), who had an impressive win two weeks ago against Ohio State, won his first win in the M.A.C. Center in arguably the most exciting match of the day. He trailed 4-1 after two periods and 5-3 in the third before breaking out and scoring a takedown and a pin with 52 seconds left in the match.

“I think I wasn’t realty prepared in the beginning,” Wheeler said. “He kinda got a big lead on me by four points. I figured I could get him, and I just had to keep pushing the pressure and stay on him, and that’s what I did toward the end. I saw him pretty tired and I just attacked.”

In his match, fifth-year senior and 184-pounder Casey Newburg scored a dominating 13-4 victory over Bryan Loughlin, Newburg scored seven of his 13 points in the opening period. Prior to the opening match, Andrassy presented Newburg with the Jerry Petrofes Scholarship.

The man to seal Kent State’s final victory of the day for Kent State was none other than the top ranked 197-pounder in the nation, Dustin Kilgore. The fifth-year senior barely broke a sweat in his match, scoring three takedowns and pin all in 47 seconds.

Kilgore’s win marked his 35th straight win and the 51st straight dual meet victory of his collegiate career. He now has 151 lifetime collegiate wrestling wins and is currently 17-0 this season.

“He pins people,” Andrassy said. “That’s what he talks about and that’s what he does. I can see more of his matches going like that.”

Since the 2005-2006 season, Kent State has gone 100-32-1 in dual meets and during that time, they have not lost a MAC dual to a team other than Michigan State, going 27-0-1 against the combination of Northern Illinois, Buffalo, Ohio and Eastern Michigan.

The Golden Flashes will carry their 1-0 start in conference dual meets Dec. 29 at the Brute Invitational in Lock Haven, Pa.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].