Kilgore leads team against Missouri

A.J. Atkinson

Newly ranked No. 1 wrestler in the 197 lb-class, Dustin Kilgore, will lead the Kent State wrestling team as the Flashes travel to face Missouri (5-3) on Sunday at the Hearnes Center in Columbia.

Missouri is ranked No. 16 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Coaches Poll, while Kent State is receiving Top 25 votes for the poll.

Kilgore was awarded the best wrestler in the 197 lb-class after he defeated the former top seated Cam Simaz of Cornell, 10-9, in the Body Bar Invitational. Kilgore is the first Kent State wrestler since 1985 to receive a No. 1 ranking.

Kilgore, who was ranked third before his victory over Simaz, said the new number means nothing to him.

“I don’t look at (the rankings),” Kilgore said. “I don’t pay attention to them. It’s all the same. As long as you go in with the goals and intentions of winning, it’s never going to change. You always have to have the same mindset.”

Kent State coach Jim Andrassy said he believes Kilgore is the best wrestler he’s ever coached in his seven years as head coach of the Flashes.

“Right now I’d say he’s one of the best guys we’ve ever had,” Andrassy said of the junior. “Dustin isn’t a guy who has the greatest skill. He just works real hard and outworks guys. His intensity is real high, and he doesn’t get nervous. Some of those things you can’t even coach he carries well.”

Kilgore believes his conditioning is the reason he finds success.

“I’ve been pretty successful so far,” he said. “So I just need to keep my conditioning up because that’s one of my best aspects to just keep going for seven minutes hard.”

During tomorrow’s match against the Tigers, Andrassy is hoping the wrestlers can pull off a couple of upsets.

“With one or two upsets, we can win the duel,” Andrassy said. “Tyler Small is starting to wrestle a little bit better. Brandonn Johnson’s wrestling better. Those guys just need to step up and hope to get an upset. That’s our game plan.”

Kilgore said the younger athletes could benefit from the tougher competition along with giving the wrestlers opportunities to prove themselves.

“A lot of our guys wrestle to keep the matches close, but hopefully we can get some guys to really step it up and beat some guys that are ranked higher then them,” Kilgore said. “That will really help their confidence. I’ve beaten guys who are better than me and that helps my confidence go up, and I feel like I can beat anyone.”

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