Top wrestlers advance to final eight at NCAA Championships

The five national qualifiers representing the Kent State wrestling team finished the first day of the NCAA Championships yesterday in Omaha, Neb., with mixed results.

Senior Danny Mitcheff and sophomore Dustin Kilgore left the Qwest Center victorious, with both wrestlers going 2-0 to advance to the final eight contenders in the tournament’s championship bracket.

Mitcheff, seeded sixth at 133 pounds, dominated Stanford’s Justin Paulsen (23-14) with a 12-1 major decision in Session I yesterday morning. In Session II, Mitcheff (32-3) scored a takedown midway through the third period to defeat Lehigh’s Matthew Fisk (22-7), 4-3.

Seeded third at 184 pounds, Kilgore survived a near upset in Session I at the hands of Cornell’s Steve Bosak (25-14). Kilgore (34-1) trailed Bosak 3-0 in the second period but rallied with two takedowns and a reversal to win, 6-5. In Session II, Kilgore locked Michigan State’s Nick Palmieri (13-13) in a cradle and recorded a pin at the 2:31 mark.

In their NCAA Championships debut, sophomores Brendan Barlow and Ross Tice, along with freshman Keith Witt, each earned one loss yesterday, placing them in the consolation bracket.

Barlow (31-8) opened Session I with a 3-2 defeat against Cornell’s Josh Arnone (19-8) in the heavyweight bracket’s pigtail round, earning him an entry in the field of 32 competitors. Barlow would then go on to battle Missouri’s defending national champion Mark Ellis (20-10), but fell in overtime, 5-3.

At 165 pounds, Tice (27-12) fell to Lehigh’s Brandon Hatchett (14-8) 3-1 in his first match, but kept himself alive in the tournament with a 5-2 decision against Columbia’s Eren Civan (26-13).

As the youngest representative from Kent State, Witt (23-13) lost to Oklahoma State’s Mike Benefied, seeded sixth at 174 pounds, 8-0. Witt dropped his second match of the day to Oklahoma’s Jeff James (22-11) in the first round of the consolation bracket, which ultimately eliminated him from the tournament.

Watch today’s action live from the Qwest Center on ESPNU at 10:30 a.m. or visit to view the results online.

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected]

and assistant sports editor Caleb Raubenolt at [email protected].