Kilgore named Kent State’s first national champion for wrestling



Dustin Kilgore of Kent State University wrestles Clayton Foster of Oklahoma State University during the Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. Kilgore defeated Foster by fall to win the 197 pound national title. Photo courtesy of Drew Hallowell/ Associated Press.

A.J. Atkinson

A minute was left in the second period when Dustin Kilgore, Kent State’s loan representative in the Final Round of the wrestling NCAA Tournament, trailed 5-1 to Oklahoma State’s Clayton Foster.

With 30 seconds remaining in the second, Jim Andrassy, Kent State coach, said he was just hoping for a two-point takedown to narrow the lead to 5-3 for the final period.

Kilgore was thinking more than just two-points in the championship match held in Philadelphia on March 19.

“It’s the best feeling ever. I just wanted it really bad. This is mind-blowing.” -Dustin Kilgore

As Foster rolled to escape, Kilgore saw his opportunity. He jumped in and pinned Foster with just four seconds to go in the second period to become Kent State’s first national champion wrestler.

“It’s the best feeling ever,” the 197-pound national champ said. “I just wanted it really bad. This is mind-blowing.”

“As soon as I saw (Foster) get tired, I knew right then I had to push myself twice as hard — harder than I’ve ever been pushed before. I wanted it and I got it. I’m just thankful my body had the conditioning it does, because without a doubt that’s what got the job done.”

Kilgore’s endurance showed by the number of shots he took.

In the nearly five minute match, Kilgore had taken a total of six shots compared to Foster’s two.

Kilgore said he kept his composure, even though Foster blocked many of those shots.

“Those shots were probably what were able to wear him out and get him tired,” Kilgore said. “I wasn’t getting frustrated. You don’t do a lot of thinking; the adrenaline does the thinking for you.”

Andrassy said how happy he was to be a part of “the most exciting match of the tournament.”

“Best feeling in the world,” Andrassy said. “I was just a spectator. I was just glad I could run out and meet him on the mat.”

Kilgore said he was happy to win Kent State its first national wrestling championship, but was most happy to win it for the program and his coaches.

“What the coaches have done is phenomenal,” Kilgore said. “In the future, this is going to build such a great team for Kent State, I’m hoping, because they deserve it. They put everything towards me getting a National title.”

Now, Kilgore is debating leaving this program for a year to train for the Olympics. If Kilgore has a top-two finish in the University Nationals or finishes in the top eight of the U.S. Open, he has the option of Olympic redshirting next season.

“To face wrestlers from other countries would be an incredible experience,” Kilgore said.

Even if Kilgore qualifies to have the option of Olympic redshirting, he still has one other major factor. If he chooses to Olympic redshirt, he will not receive his full-ride scholarship next year.

Since the U.S. Open is not until April 26, Kilgore has plenty of time to make a decision.

Contact A.J. Atkinson at [email protected].