Wrestlers fall short at nationals, but program continues to grow

Nate Stuart

Three Kent State wrestlers made it to the consolation round of the 2007 NCAA Wrestling National Championships, but all three fell short of becoming All-Americans.

Senior Chad Sportelli, junior Kurt Gross and sophomore Danny Mitcheff were all eliminated on the second day of the tournament. Sophomore Jermail Porter was eliminated on day one.

Both Mitcheff and Porter had tough draws.

Mitcheff opened against the top-seeded 133 lb. wrestler, senior Nick Simmons of Michigan State, while Porter faced the No. 2 ranked heavyweight, senior Ty Watterson of Oregon State.

“Mitcheff wrestled two All-Americans tough,” coach Jim Andrassy said.

In the 157 lb-class, Gross had trouble maintaining consistency, Andrassy said.

“Kurt didn’t wrestle a full match. He had good periods here and bad periods there.”

Mitcheff, Gross and Sportelli all finished the tournament 2-2. Porter was 0-2.

Andrassy was disappointed not to have any All-Americans this season but said the wrestling program is improving fast and will continue to grow.

“We’re going to miss Aaron (Miller), Chad (Sportelli) and Jason (McGee). Those guys helped us get better,” Andrassy said, but he noted the immense talent still on the Flashes’ roster.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we have guys on our team that will be All-Americans,” he said.

Andrassy was also excited about the coming addition of two of the top high school wrestlers in the nation – Brendan Barlow and Dustin Kilgore. Barlow, a heavyweight from Westerville, is ranked fifth in the nation. Kilgore, from Berea, has been ranked as high as second in the nation.

“Those are two guys we probably couldn’t have got a few years ago,” Andrassy said.

Senior Jason McGee was also supposed to represent Kent State at the NCAA Championships, but he was unable to wrestle because of an eye injury.

“You can’t control situations like this,” Andrassy said. “Jason had wrestled five of the eight guys that were All-Americans in his class. He felt like he belonged.”

Contact wrestling reporter Nate Stuart at [email protected].