Wrestlers finish fifth at N.Y. tournament

Caleb Raubenolt

Kilgore scores upset for individual title

A pair of Kent State wrestlers shined at the Oklahoma Gold Tournament in Brockport, N.Y., Saturday, with one of them bringing home the meet’s top individual honor.

Sophomore Dustin Kilgore and senior Danny Mitcheff each streaked through their respective brackets to claim championships and lead the Flashes to a fifth-place finish at the eight-team tournament.

Kilgore (6-0) earned the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award after pinning his first three opponents and defeating top-ranked Ohio State senior Mike Pucillo 5-2 in the championship match at 184 pounds.

“I wrestled really hard and gave it everything I had,” Kilgore said after upsetting Pucillo, a three-time All-American and former national champion in 2008 and national runner-up in 2009. “I was able to get three pins, and then I was able to win the finals match against a really good opponent. I’m happy with the way it turned out. I’m just thankful that people are able to see my hard work and that I was able to be voted MVP.”

Entering the 133-pound bracket as its highest seed, Mitcheff outscored his first three opponents 39-8, including an 18-1 technical fall against Brockport sophomore Ryan Fallot. In the championship match, Mitcheff defeated Rutgers junior Billy Ashnault, 3-2.

After recording a 15-4 major decision against Oklahoma freshman Nick Burnham in the first round, Mitcheff became the ninth Kent State wrestler to achieve 100 wins in his collegiate career.

“Danny’s really motivated right now,” Kent State coach Jim Andrassy said. “Last year, he didn’t accomplish what he wanted to, but he was really, really close. He doesn’t care about how he wins, and he doesn’t care about winning the Brockport Open. He doesn’t care about all the little things that some guys get wrapped up into. He’s got one goal, and that’s to be a national champion and an All-American.”

Andrassy admitted to setting his expectations high when he entered the tournament, but he said he was still impressed with how the young Flashes wrestled, despite finishing fifth.

“We want to continue that success (from last season),” Andrassy said, “but if you break it down position by position, we’re starting either a freshman or sophomore in nine out of 10 weight classes.”

Sophomore Ross Tice (165 pounds) and freshman Adam Cogar (197) each finished in third place, as both wrestlers rallied to win four consecutive matches in the consolation round after losing in the quarterfinals.

Freshman Mallie Shuster earned fourth place by winning his first two matches but lost 6-0 in the semifinals to Oklahoma senior and 157-pound champion Shane Vernon. Shuster won his first consolation match but fell short of third place with a 6-0 loss to Ohio State sophomore Shane Nemec.

Like Shuster, freshman heavyweight Brendan Barlow defeated his first two opponents but lost in the semifinals. After losing 3-2 to Ohio State senior Corey Morrison, Barlow defeated Ohio State sophomore John Hiles 3-1 to capture fifth place.

Sophomore Troy Opfer (125) and freshman Keith Witt (174) rounded out the wrestlers who placed for Kent State, both taking sixth place with three victories each.

At this point in the season, Andrassy said the team is striving to gain experience and develop maturity and shouldn’t feel discouraged about finishing behind tougher programs such as Rutgers, Edinboro, Ohio State and Oklahoma.

“They’re all pretty darn good programs, and I think we did all right. It isn’t where we want to be ultimately, but for now it’s a starting point,” he said. “We’re easing our way into the season, and ultimately, our goal is to win a (Mid-American Conference) Championship, to be a Top 10 to 15 team in the country, and it’s a process that we’re taking.

“We don’t have what I call ‘thoroughbreds’ right off the bat. We just (need to) develop our horses. We’re developing right now. We’re doing a good job as a coaching staff, and the kids are responding. It’s just going to take a little bit of time – that’s all.”

Contact sports reporter Caleb Raubenolt at [email protected]