Kent State wrestlers topple Central Michigan


149 lb. Freshman Ian Miller takes down his Central Michigan opponent during the meet on Sunday. Kent State beat Central Michigan 22-13 and remain unbeaten in the Mid-American Conference.

Tim Dorst

Whenever the Kent State wrestling team takes on Central Michigan, it’s always an important matchup. Both teams sit atop the Mid-American Conference standings, so winning a meet between the two teams is crucial to gaining momentum heading into the MAC Championship tournament.

Kent State was the one to gain that momentum as they defeated Central Michigan 22-13 in a dual meet Sunday afternoon. The Flashes won seven of the 10 matches of the day and extended their dual-meet winning streak to eight.

Senior Keith Witt earned a 3-1 victory in dramatic fashion over Central Michigan’s Chad Friend. With the score tied at one in the third period, Witt scored a swift takedown on Friend seconds before the end of regulation. The win gave the Flashes a 19-13 lead over the Chippewas going into the final bout.

The Flashes (10-4, 3-0 MAC) got off of a fast start, winning their first four matches. Senior Nic Bedelyon started the event off with a 4-2 win over No. 15 Joe Roth. Junior Stevie Mitcheff also pulled out a dramatic 10-9 win against Tyler Keselring, scoring a takedown with just over 30 seconds to go in regulation to secure the match.

“Stevie has come a long way,” coach Jim Andrassy said. “He’s basically a 125-pounder wrestling in the 133-pound class, so he’s had some tough times earlier in the year. The difference between those two weight classes is huge, but he’s handled it and he’s determined to reach his goals.”

Freshman Ian Miller had another impressive outing, earning a 13-5 major decision over Central Michigan’s Joey Kielbasa. It was Miller’s eighth major decision victory this season. Sophomore Tyler Small shut out Scott Mattingly 5-0, controlling the match from start to finish.

With the Flashes up 13-0, Central Michigan started to pick up some steam with back-to-back wins. Junior Mallie Shuster defeated Central Michigan’s Donnie Corby with a 5-2 decision, and Senior Ross Tice suffered an 18-8 loss to Mike Ottinger.

Andrassy said that it was Tice’s nerves that caused him to not perform at his best.

“He gets so nervous and has so much anxiety,” Andrassy said. “He’s a fifth-year senior, so it’s not that he doesn’t know what to do. He just didn’t fight hard today.”

Junior Brandonn Johnson got the Flashes back on track with a 7-1 victory over Anthony Bell. However, another setback occurred when the Chippewas’ Ben Bennett, ranked No. 5 in the nation at the 184-pound weight class, scored a pin against junior Casey Newburg, cutting the Flashes lead to three.

“Casey just needs more confidence,” Andrassy said. “He’s gotten so much better, but sometimes he doesn’t believe it. We need to help him believe in how good he really is.”

After Witt’s dramatic victory, senior Brendan Barlow’s match against No. 12 Peter Sturgeon went into four overtime periods, with neither man giving up much ground. Barlow eventually came out on top, sealing a 22-13 victory for the Flashes.

This was Kent State’s first home meet win against Central Michigan since 1996. The Flashes continue conference play with two home matches against Buffalo Friday at 7 p.m. and Eastern Michigan Sunday at 2 p.m.

“We beat Buffalo before at the Virginia Duals, so we should be ok there,” Andrassy said. “As for Eastern Michigan, they’re a much improved team, and we match up with them well. So our plan is to get a few more wins and then get ready for the MAC tournament and the national duals.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].