Kent State wrestler enjoying great success as freshman


Brian Smith

Freshman Ian Miller, considered the No. 2 recruit in the nation, is already making headlines with a 22-3 record in his first season at Kent State. Photo by Brian Smith.

Tim Dorst

In college wrestling, it can be rare to see a freshman have a lot of success right away. Typically, incoming freshman wrestlers are redshirted, meaning they sit out of competition during their first year while still being able to practice with the team. Only the most outstanding wrestlers, such as last year’s national champion Dustin Kilgore, can move from high school to college and immediately compete on the mat in meets and tournaments.

Kent State freshman wrestler Ian Miller is one of those rare, phenomenal athletes. In his first year of college wrestling, he has already established himself as one of the best wrestlers for the Flashes, as well as one of the best in the nation. His above-average athleticism and impressive mat ability has translated into successful matches for his team.

Success is nothing new to Miller. In his junior year at Oak Harbor High School, he won the Division II Ohio State title in the 145-pound weight class, posting a record of 44-1. He was the runner-up for the same title as a senior. By the time he graduated from high school, he was considered the No. 2 recruit in the nation at 152 pounds, according to wrestling websites like InterMat and USA Wrestling.

Miller has been developing his wrestling skills for nearly his whole life, beginning in kindergarten and continuing on through high school. He had also played soccer for many of those years, but he said he knew that wrestling was his true calling.

“I could tell wrestling was my dominant sport,” Miller said. “I was always better at it, so I stuck with it.”

When it came time to choose a college, Miller said he received many offers and traveled coast to coast visiting schools and meeting with coaching staffs. In the end, it came down to a decision between Kent State, Michigan and North Carolina. Miller chose Kent State, a college that he already had a connection to.

“I just felt at home here at Kent,” Miller said. “My uncle wrestled here, and I just liked it when I came here and visited.”

Miller joined an already successful Flashes team that has had multiple winning seasons and produced a national champion last season. He said his main motivation is to help continue that winning tradition.

“My motivation is just to win,” Miller said. “I like to win.”

He has done a lot of that already this season. Miller is currently 22-3, leads his team in pins with 10 and has earned seven major decisions. Coach Jim Andrassy said he can tell Miller is a special talent.

“Ian has done a great job for a true freshman,” Andrassy said. “Usually freshmen don’t have this kind of success, but he has. He just has the feel and the athletic ability that most kids want to have. A lot of stuff you can’t teach, it’s just natural reaction for him.”

Miller is currently ranked No. 10 in the nation in the 149-pound weight class, according to InterMat. He gives a lot of credit to Andrassy and likes the way the team is being run.

“(Andrassy) has done a fantastic job,” Miller said. “He’s preparing us well for all the tournaments, and he’s preparing me well and helping me become a better wrestler.”

Andrassy said Miller is usually a quiet guy who keeps to himself and that his actions on the mat speak louder than his words.

“He’s pretty quiet,” Andrassy said. “It’s not that he’s shell-shocked, but he just doesn’t say a whole lot. Sometimes I wish he would talk a little more so that we would know how he feels. But as a coach, you look at how a kid is doing, and Ian is doing really well this year.”

Andrassy also said Miller has already gained the respect of his fellow wrestlers and of the coaching staff, who all see the potential that he possesses.

“If he stays healthy and makes a few minor adjustments, I think he’s as good as anyone in the country,” Andrassy said. “If his goal isn’t to be national champion, he needs to rethink his goals.”

No rethinking necessary here.

“I want to be a freshman All-American this year and eventually win a national championship here,” Miller said.

Following Kilgore’s footsteps, Miller said he wants to make it onto the Olympic wrestling team after college and compete in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. Within the next four years, Kent State could have two former wrestlers representing the Flashes on the USA Wrestling Team.

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].