Wrestling places second in MAC tournament

Mallie Shuster, senior 157 weight class, grappled against an Eastern Michigan wrestler on Sunday, Feb 4th at the Ohio University Convocation Center in Athens. Shuster lost his match 2-4. Photo by Sam Verbulecz.

Mallie Shuster, senior 157 weight class, grappled against an Eastern Michigan wrestler on Sunday, Feb 4th at the Ohio University Convocation Center in Athens. Shuster lost his match 2-4. Photo by Sam Verbulecz.

Tim Dorst

For the past six years, Kent State and Central Michigan have gone neck and neck in the Mid-American Conference Championship tournament, with Kent State finishing second in each of those years. Unfortunately for the Flashes, this year’s tournament was not any different.

Kent State kept it close for a while, but Central Michigan pulled away by taking first place in five weight classes to clinch the conference tournament championship Sunday in Athens, Ohio. The victory marks the Chippewas’ 11th straight tournament title.

CMU finished with a total of 89 points while Kent State finished second with 79. Eastern Michigan placed a distant third with 49.

Coach Jim Andrassy said he is disappointed that his team couldn’t close the deal.

“I thought we brought the better team,” Andrassy said. “It’s the little things that some of our guys didn’t do. It’s tough when we’re trying to get to the next step, and we aren’t doing it as a team. We have to find a way to get past Central because they proved that they’re still the best in the conference.”

Five Flashes made it to the championship round in their respective weight classes, and three of them took home individual championships. All five Chippewas who made it that far won titles.

Freshman Ian Miller went 3-0 for the tournament, beginning with an 8-4 victory over Eastern Michigan’s Jaylyn Bohl in the 149 lb-class quarterfinals. Miller took Central Michigan’s Joey Kielbasa down four times in the semi-finals on his way to a 12-8 win.

Miller looked dominant in the championship match, earning a 12-3 major decision over Buffalo’s Blake Roulo and claiming his first MAC Championship.

“It feels great,” Miller said. “I’m really excited. I came out here and did what I wanted to do.”

Sophomore Tyler Small, wrestling in the 141 lb-class, earned a 3-0 shutout against Ohio University’s Darrin Boing, avenging a loss to Boing from earlier this season.

In the finals, Small scored three takedowns and defeated Northern Illinois’ Kevin Fanta 6-0 to win the title, Small’s first as well.

“I felt really good about this tournament going in,” Small said. “For me, coming in and winning the MAC is just another step and another goal. I’m always looking forward to new goals, and next step will be All-American.”

Junior Keith Witt had a successful quarterfinal match in the 197 lb-class, scoring a pin on Ohio’s Kyle Sanders in the first period. Witt followed up with a solid 8-2 win over EMU’s Justin Heiserman in the semi-finals and an 8-3 win in the 197 lb-class championship match.

Witt said that winning the MAC title was one of his biggest goals going into the season and can now focus on competing at the national tournament.

“I feel confident,” Witt said. “I feel like I can do something down there. I might not be as nervous as I was the first time going there, and I know the atmosphere. So it should be a good feeling.”

After receiving a first-round bye, senior Nic Bedelyon defeated EMU’s Jared Germaine 6-2 to advance to the finals against CMU’s Joe Roth in the 125 lb-class.

Bedelyon got off to an early lead in the final match, but a clutch takedown in the third period secured a 9-6 upset victory for Roth. The loss was only Bedelyon’s fourth of the season. Bedelyon finished in second place overall.

Junior Stevie Mitcheff of the 133 lb-class, who also received a first-round bye, scrambled for control at the end of his first match but couldn’t gain it, falling 3-2 to Northern Illinois’ Robert Jillard. Mitcheff bounced back in his consolation match, earning an 11-1 major decision over Buffalo’s Justin Farmer.

In his second consolation match, Mitcheff was turned and pinned by EMU’s Andrew Novak, giving Mitcheff a fourth-place finish in the 133 lb-class.

Junior Mallie Shuster had a 3-1 day in Athens, starting off with a pin on Northern Illinois’s Tyler Loethen in the 157 lb-class quarterfinals. Shuster was then taken down in the third period of the semi-final match and fell 3-2 to EMU’s Aaron Sulzer.

Shuster went on to defeat UB’s Wally Maziarz 9-4 in his first consolation match and OU’s Harrison Hightower 5-2 in the consolation final to finish third.

Senior 165-pounder Ross Tice was trailing 3-1 after the first period of his quarterfinal match, but tallied two takedowns and a near fall in the third for a 10-5 comeback win. In the semi-finals, Tice couldn’t get his offense going, dropping a 3-1 decision to UB’s Mark Lewandowski.

Tice finished the tournament strong, earning a pin against NIU’s Matt Mougin and placed third.

Senior Brendan Barlow’s semifinal match against CMU’s Peter Sturgeon went to extra periods deadlocked at 1-1. The end came when Barlow lifted Sturgeon off the mat and grounded him, scoring a takedown and a 3-1 sudden victory.

In the heavyweight championship match, Barlow fell behind early against OU’s Jeremy Johnson and couldn’t recover. Johnson defeated Barlow 4-2 to win the MAC heavyweight title.

Junior Casey Newburg lost by a pin to NIU’s Brad Dieckhaus in the semi-finals for the 184 lb-class, but later earned an 11-3 major victory against EMU’s Mike Curby in his first consolation match.

Disaster then struck for Newburg as he was pinned again in the consolation finals, this time by OU’s Ryan Garringer. Newberg finished fourth.

The next wrestling event on the schedule is the NCAA Championships, which will be held on March 15-17 in St. Louis, Mo. National qualifiers for the tournament will be announced later this week.

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected] or on Twitter at @TimmyD_DKS.