Kent State wrestling team heads to Las Vegas


Freshman Ian Miller wrestles down Central Michigan’s Joey Kielbasa during Sunday’s meet at the M.A.C. Center. Miller won the match by major decision. Kent State beat Central Michigan 22-13. Photo by ANTHONY VENCE.

Richie Mulhall

The Kent State wrestling team will face its most difficult challenge of the early season this weekend as they travel to Las Vegas for the two-day Las Vegas Cliff Keen Invitational at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The Flashes are taking their top 10 wrestlers (the best wrestler in each weight class) to compete against 32 other teams Friday and Saturday. Cornell, Missouri, Ohio State, Oregon State and Nebraska are among the Top 25 teams of the 32 teams in action.

“There’s three really big tournaments nowadays that are invitationals: Midlands, Las Vegas and Southern Scuffle,” head coach Jim Andrassy said. “We’re going to one of the top three tournaments in the country.”

Andrassy said he expects his wrestlers to begin wrestling their best somewhere around this time in the semester. Because the wrestlers had some time off for Thanksgiving break, Andrassy said he thinks some of the guys will need a match or two to get back into it; however, he expects them to still wrestle their best.

“I think the hope is that we’re gonna go [to Vegas] and our guys are gonna wrestle up to their potential and hopefully continue getting our school some national recognition as far as with our wrestling program,” Andrassy said.

Andrassy said he’s looking forward to the event and thinks he has a solid group of guys going with him to Las Vegas this weekend.

“Guys like [Caleb] Marsh and [Sam] Wheeler and (Nick) Carr and Stevie Mitcheff and Casey Newburg and Keith Witt are all really, really good guys,” Andrassy said. “They just need to get more matches at the weight classes and hopefully try to make a national impact this weekend as far as individually.”

Fifth-year seniors Newburg (184 lbs.) and Dustin Kilgore (197 lbs.) are bringing undefeated records with them to Las Vegas. Both wrestlers have won tournament championships in all three tournaments in which they have competed so far.

Newburg is 12-0 this season with six bonus-point victories.

Kilgore is 10-0 with five pins, two major decisions and no collegiate losses since December 2010.

“Dustin is expecting to win this and [is] hopefully competing for a tournament MVP,” Andrassy said.

Another wrestler who’s bringing an undefeated record to Las Vegas this weekend is sophomore Marsh (165 lbs.). Marsh, who battled injury during the first two weeks of the season, bounced back last week and kicked off his season with a 4-0 record and a Navy Classic first place title.

“[I’m] trying to get in the best shape I can and work as hard as I can,” Marsh said. “I did all the rehab and my leg feels much better now; it doesn’t even bother me at all anymore.”

Fifth-year senior Witt (285 lbs.) is 7-3 in two tournaments this season with second and fifth place finishes. Andrassy said it is a big week for Witt to start getting used to the heavyweight weight class.

Andrassy said redshirt freshman Sam Wheeler (174 lbs.), who is 9-3 this season and has placed in the top three spots in all three tournaments in which he’s competed, has the tools he needs to take the next step in his weight class.

“I’ve been focusing on my conditioning this week and my intensity,” Wheeler said. “We’ve been trying to turn it up a little bit in the room and get more intense. I think we worked hard this week. Last week we had a good tournament, and we’re just trying to build off of that and have a successful tournament this week.”

Andrassy said he is hoping to see good things from redshirt freshman Carr (149 lbs.) in Las Vegas. Carr is off to a strong start this season with a solid 12-2 record and a Michigan State Open title.

“Someone like Nick Carr has to do it this week to get some national publicity because he’s had three really good tournaments, but they won’t be [as] looked at as this tournament will,” Andrassy said.

Fifth-year senior Mitcheff (125 lbs.) is coming off of a successful Navy Classic, in which he won a first place title. Mitcheff is 10-4 so far this season.

“I think it’s time for Stevie to step up and wrestle good in a big event,” Andrassy said.

The two-day tournament is slated to begin at noon Friday. Coverage of the tournament can be found on

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].