Flashes come up short at wrestling nationals

Sean Ammerman

Kent State entered five wrestlers in the NCAA Division I National Championships this year marking the university’s best representation in the tournament in 16 years. But none of the Flashes racked up enough wins to place in the tournament which ran Thursday through Saturday.

Kent State earned an overall team score of eight, which placed them 38th out of the 64 universities that sent athletes.

“We’re not too happy about it,” senior Alex Camargo said about his team’s performance. “We really could have done a lot better.”

No. 2 nationally ranked Oklahoma State dominated the tournament, winning its fourth straight National Championship with 122.5 points. No. 1 ranked Minnesota was the runner-up by a margin of 38.5 points.

No. 16 senior Alex Camargo was the closest of any of the Kent State wrestlers to place. He went 4-2 in the 184-pound bracket, coming one win short of placing in the top eight necessary for All-American status.

In his final match wearing a Flashes uniform, Camargo faced No. 3 Joe Mazzurco from Cornell in front of 15,700 fans at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. Camargo took an early 2-1 lead in the second period with a takedown, but Mazzurco countered with an escape and a takedown of his own to take the lead at the end of the period. Camargo received a stalling warning before the takedown, which he said made him too cautious and opened him up to the move. An escape from Camargo brought the score to 4-3 in the final period. Mazzurco prevented Camargo from another shot with a hold that kept him two points away from becoming Kent State’s first All-American since 1986.

“He’s real tough to score on, so I didn’t get another opportunity,” he said.

Camargo went 2-1 on Thursday, with his first loss coming to No. 7 Peter Friedl of Illinois 3-1 in the Sweet Sixteen round. The loss sent him to the consolation brackets on Friday, in which he defeated Charles Pienaar of Slippery Rock 5-1. He then moved on to No. 11 Raymond Jordan of Missouri, their third meeting of the year, and won 7-2.

“Alex worked his tail for four years,” Kent State coach Jim Andrassy said in a press release. “And I am proud to have him on this team. He went further than anyone in this program has gone in a long time. Although he didn’t get All-American, he ranks right up there with the best wrestlers in this school’s history.”

Camargo ends his career at Kent State with 126 wins, which is the most in school history. He also leaves with two national tournament appearances and this year’s Mid-American Conference Championship at the 184-pound weight class. Nevertheless, Camargo said the season was not a complete success for him as his goal of becoming an All-American alluded him.

“The No. 1 goal was to be an All-American,” he said. “In the future I’ll look back and try to turn the negatives into positives.”

No. 14 junior Chad Sportelli went 1-2 in the 125-pound bracket and also advanced to the Sweet Sixteen but was sent to the consolation brackets after a 3-2 loss to No. 10 Chad Mendes of California State Polytechnic. His second loss, which knocked him out of the tournament, came from No. 18 Mike Silengo from Pennsylvania on Friday, in which he fell short 9-8.

Sophomore Kurt Gross went into the 157-pound bracket as Kent State’s second MAC champion of the year. Gross went 1-2 in the tournament and was knocked out by No. 20 Matt Hill from Edinburo 17-3 on Friday.

On Thursday, Academic All-American Aaron Miller garnered his team-leading seventh pin of the season against Doug Umbehauer from Rider in the 174-pound bracket. Miller couldn’t keep the momentum going into Friday, however, and was pinned by No. 12 Matt Harrington of Pennsylvania. This put him out of the tournament with a 1-2 record during the two days.

Senior Jason Bake was ousted of the 149-pound bracket after going 0-2 on Thursday. Bake tied opponent Morgan Atkinson from California State Fullerton 6-6 but was knocked out of the tournament by a pin in the final period.

“We didn’t accomplish what we wanted to,” Andrassy said. “But for the three guys coming back next season (Sportelli, Gross, Miller), it lets them see where they need to be. As a team, we’ve obviously made progress this year but you always want more and I hope these guys do too.”

Contact wrestling reporter Sean Ammerman at [email protected]