Grappling for MAC glory

Rachel Jones

Kent State hosts CMU for conference title

For the Kent State wrestling team and the Mid-American Conference, the season has come down to one meet.

In one of the most anticipated matchups of the season, the No. 15 Kent State wrestling team will take on No. 6 Central Michigan at home Sunday at 2 p.m.

Not only is this a competitive rivalry, but also the winner of the meet takes home the title of MAC Champions.

Last time they met up, the Flashes (14-3, 3-0 MAC) defeated the Chippewas (15-2, 3-0 MAC) 14-8. Kent State coach Jim Andrassy said he will need each wrestler to compete his best in order to pull off another win.

“Last year was one of those years where all of our guys went out and did what we asked them to do,” Andrassy said. “That’s the same type of thing we need this year. All of our guys (need) to go hard all seven minutes.”

Redshirt sophomore Dustin Kilgore (29-1) said he is excited for the matchup.

“This is probably the match we look forward to the most every year,” Kilgore said. “I don’t hate them at all, but there’s definitely going to be some rivalry going on.”

Although a competitive rivalry does exist, senior Danny Mitcheff (28-2) said he respects Central Michigan.

“They’re a good team,” Mitcheff said. “They do well every year. It lets us see where we’re at as a team.”

Mitcheff, who is ranked 10th nationally, has a chance to get in the record books with this match. A victory Sunday would equal 126 career wins, tying Alex Camargo’s record for the most in Kent State’s history.

“I really didn’t think about (the record) until this year when I heard I was close,” Mitcheff said. “I definitely put in the time, effort, work and dedication, and I think it’s paid off. I’m proud of myself for getting that many wins.”

Win or lose, Mitcheff will be honored along with Obie Simpson as a part of Senior Day, which recognizes the graduating wrestlers’ career highlights.

Both teams have been flawless in the MAC so far and will be bringing some of the top wrestlers in the conference and the nation.

“We’re kind of the same team wise,” Kilgore said. “It’s good guys against good guys.”

The Chippewas’ lineup has only two wrestlers who are not ranked nationally who will definitely compete. They are still teetering between two wrestlers for the 184-pound match, due to health issues with their wrestlers. The two choices are Mike Miller (9-3), who is ranked 14th nationally or Dillon Kern (6-10).

Kilgore, who is ranked fourth in the U.S. at 184 pounds, said he is not worried about who his opponent will be.

“It doesn’t matter who you’re wrestling,” Kilgore said. “I’m just going out there and looking for a win any way I can.”

Mitcheff will also have to fight for his win when he wrestles Scotti Sentes (16-5), who is ranked seventh nationally.

“I have a really tough opponent, and I’ve never wrestled him before,” Mitcheff said. “Hopefully, I can come out with a victory.”

While the battle is important for conference standings, it is also one for the history books.

“I don’t know any time in the history of Kent State athletics where two top 15 teams are competing on this campus in any sport,” Andrassy said.

The historical event will be streaming live on SportsTime Ohio, which is channel 76 if you live on campus.

“It is going to be on live TV, which is the first time in Kent State’s history, that I can remember, that a match has been on live TV,” said Andrassy. “We want to have a good crowd there because of that. The idea is to get 4,000 people in the M.A.C. Center, so when the cameras are there, they can see all the fans supporting our program.”

The fans are definitely in for a show: a close, competitive meet between the top two teams in the MAC.

“Just because on paper they’re supposed to beat us, doesn’t mean we don’t have a chance,” Andrassy said. “(We) are going to give everything we have to win this match.”

Notes: Redshirt sophomore Brendan Barlow, who is ranked 17th in the nation, may return after injuring his hand last week. If he is still unable to compete, junior Joe Tymoszczuk will wrestle in the heavyweight match.

Junior Matt Cathell (149) had his eligibility restored by the NCAA Monday and will also compete.

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones

at [email protected].