Wrestlers secure three top-three finishes at PSU

Thomas Gallick

The wrestling team relied on the big men yesterday to record three top-three finishes at the Penn State Open.

Freshman Dustin Kilgore, who wrestled unattached to the team to maintain his red-shirt status, and junior Eric Chine finished second and third in the 184 pound weight class. They finished behind Rocco Caponi of Virginia, who earned the rank of eighth in the country at the time of the last national poll.

Coach Jim Andrassy said he was excited with the way Kilgore has been coming along in his first season with the team.

“He’s a young kid who’s got a lot of energy and loves the sport of wrestling,” Andrassy said. “He was the second-ranked recruit in the country in his weight class, and he’s definitely a blue chip prospect.”

Junior Jermail Porter finished second in the heavyweight, or 285-pound weight class, behind John Laboranti of Penn State.

The Flashes were shut out of the top five in the eight other weight class categories in the massive tournament, the largest open event in the nation.

Andrassy said he definitely saw room for improvement after watching the team wrestle at Penn State.

“I’m not as happy as I could be with the way the team wrestled,” Andrassy said. “It was a good experience, but some of the guys on our team give their opponents too much credit and get taken out of the way they should wrestle. That’s definitely a concern.”

Junior Michael Blackwell almost earned Kent State a top-five finish on the day after finishing with a 3-2 record. He lost to eventual fifth-place winner Richard Starks of Army.

Senior Kurt Gross wrestled unattached to the team due to academic ineligibility and compiled a record of 5-2 on the day. He lost in his second match of the day and needed to run the table after that match to finish in the top five

Gross qualified for the NCAA tournament in his sophomore and junior years and will be eligible to start for the team in invitational events by Dec. 29.

Junior Obie Simpson, who will also be eligible to start for the team Dec. 29, found some success wrestling unattached and achieving a 3-2 record on the day. Simpson is ineligible as a starter this semester because he transferred to Kent State from North Carolina State this fall.

Sophomore Chris Estep also posted a positive record, finishing 5-2 in the 174-pound weight class. Estep lost to Jack Murphy of Michigan State and fifth place finisher Brock Wittmeyer of Pennsylvania.

Chine said he is looking forward to seeing what the team can accomplish when they start going head-to-head with other colleges.

“I think the team is doing pretty well right now,” Chine said. “I’m real excited to see how we come together as a dual meet team.”

More than 600 individual wrestlers competed in the Penn State Open this weekend. The Kent State wrestling team returns to action next week when they battle Michigan in Ann Arbor on Friday.

Contact wrestling reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].