No. 16 Kent State Visits Rival Ohio Friday
Coming off a 4-0 weekend and a team championship at the Virginia Duals, No. 16 Kent State (8-4, 1-0 MAC) jumps back into conference competition Friday against rival Ohio at the Convocation Center in Athens. Friday marks the first of four conference duals over the next three weekends for the Golden Flashes. Since the 2005-06 season, Kent State has not dropped a MAC dual against any team but Central Michigan, going 24-0-1 against the combination of Northern Illinois, Buffalo, Ohio and Eastern Michigan.
Kent State has won the last seven meetings with Ohio and leads the all-times series 43-23. The in-state rivals each won a share of the MAC regular season title last year with 4-1 conference records, but the Golden Flashes pounded the Bobcats 30-6 in their Feb. 11 dual. Kent State has faced Ohio more than other opponent. The series dates back to 1929 and escalated into a rivalry just a few years later after Bobcat graduate Joe Begala took over as Kent State's head coach.
Ohio is coming off a convincing 27-6 conference victory over Northern Illinois last weekend. The Bobcats won 8-of-10 matches, improving to 2-0 in home duals this season. Ohio is currently ranked No. 21 in the latest National Wrestling Media Association's Mid-Major Poll. Five Bobcats are in the top four spots of the latest MAC Coaches Rankings, including two in the No. 1 spot.
- Six Golden Flashes are now ranked in the Top 20 according to The Open Mat, while three Kent State grapplers are ranked in the Top 10 in three different polls.
- Kent State has won six straight duals since Dec. 21, including an 18-14 victory Saturday over Missouri, who was ranked No. 9 in the NWCA Coaches Poll.
- Junior Keith Witt (Oak Harbor, Ohio) was held out of action at the Virginia Duals with an injury, but is expected to be in the lineup Friday.
- Senior 165-pounder Ross Tice (Brookfield, Ohio) made his return to the starting lineup last weekend and earned a victory against the Citadel. The two-time NCAA qualifier was out of action for six weeks with a knee injury.
- The Golden Flashes won at least one match at every weight class this past weekend. Ian Miller, Tyler Small and Casey Newburg all went 4-0.
- The Golden Flashes are No. 3 in the latest National Wrestling Media Association's Mid-Major Poll. Cornell and Wyoming are in the top two spots.
- Since the 2005-06 season, the Flashes have gone 93-30-1 in dual meets.
- Kent State is represented in the Top 4 of all 10 weight classes in the Jan. 11 MAC rankings, including four (Nic Bedelyon, Tyler Small, Ian Miller, Keith Witt) at the No. 1 spot.
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125 Senior Nic Bedelyon (Lewistown, Pa.) improved to 22-2 on the year this past weekend and held his No. 4 ranking in four national polls. His only two setbacks this season have come against No. 3 Alan Waters (Missouri), including an overtime loss on Saturday. Bedelyon claimed a 13-5 major decision over No. 19 Nick Smith (NIU) in his last MAC dual, improving to 16-1 in career conference clashes. He has tallied four pins, three tech falls and three major decisions. Bedelyon has earned MAC Wrestler of the Week honors twice this season, has won titles at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, the Body Bar and the Eastern Michigan Open and defeated previous No. 3 Jarrod Patterson (Oklahoma) 7-3 in the NWCA All-Star Classic.
Bedelyon looks for a repeat of last season's Ohio dual, when he pinned Gabe Ramos in 1:12. Ramos (5-6) is coming off a 3-0 dual win against Northern Illinois.
133 Junior Stevie Mitcheff (Lorain,Ohio) played a critical role in the Flashes' semifinal and final round victories at the Virginia Duals. Mitcheff beat Old Dominion's Scott Festejo 8-5 and Missour's Eric Wilson 4-3. Mitcheff has won six of his last eight matches, including a third place finish at the Mat Town Invitational, going 4-1. Mitcheff (12-13) won his first two matches of the Cleveland State Open and advanced to the semifinals. He went 3-2 at the Body Bar with a pin. He is No. 4 in the latest MAC rankings.
Ohio's Drew Hammer (6-5) is coming off a 7-2 dual win against NIU's Rob Jillard.
141 Sophomore Tyler Small (Littlestown, Pa.) is ranked No. 9 in three national polls and No. 1 in the MAC. He went 4-0 this past weekend, improving his to 24-6 and 10-2 in duals. Small finished second at the Mat Town Invitational with his only loss coming against defending national champion Kellen Russell (Michigan). Small placed sixth at the Las Vegas Invitational, where he advanced to the semifinals. He knocked off three Top 20 opponents in the span of four days at the Body Bar Invitational and Edinboro dual. Small has totaled five pins, four major decisions and a technical fall. He has won titles this year at the Body Bar and the Eastern Michigan Open (Fresh/Soph Division).
Ohio's Darrin Boing (11-10) is No. 3 in the MAC rankings.
149 True freshman Ian Miller (Graytown, Ohio) is No. 4 according to W.I.N.'s national rankings. Miller was 4-0 at the Virginia Duals with a pin, two major decisions and a 7-3 victory over No. 12 Kyle Bradley (Missouri). Miller (22-3) was named Outstanding Wrestler at the Mat Town Invitational after going 4-0 with two major decisions and two pins, including a fall against No. 14 Tyler Nauman (Pitt). Miller leads the team with 10 pins and seven major decisions and carries a team best dual record of 11-1. Miller also won an individual title at the Body Bar,
Ohio's Andrew Romanchik (12-8) recently claimed a 5-0 win against Northern Illinois.
157 Junior Mallie Shuster (Newville, Pa.) is No. 20 according to the Open Mat and No. 2 in the MAC. He is 19-12 overall and 8-4 in duals after falling to pair of Top 25 opponents at the Virginia Duals. Shuster finished fourth in his most recent tournament (Mat Town) with a pair of close losses. He was named MAC Wrestler of the Week after defeating Top 20 opponents from Missouri and Ohio State in December. Shuster went 3-2 in Las Vegas, coming up one win shy of placing. He has piled up 83 career victories.
Ohio's Harrison Hightower (15-11) is No. 4 in the MAC and earned a 5-1 win in last week's dual.
165 Fifth year senior Ross Tice currently owns 91 career victories after a win last Friday. Still working his way back into midseason form, Tice (7-9) suffered a pair of one-point losses this past weekend, including a 5-4 setback in the final seconds against No. 16 Zach Toal (Missouri). Tice originally injured his knee Nov. 19 at the Body Bar after after a pair pins and a trip to the semifinals, then re-aggravated it in his first bout at the Las Vegas Invitational. He was the MAC runner-up at 165 last season and claimed two wins at the NCAA Championships.
Miles Chapman (Ohio) earned a 5-1 victory in his last conference dual.
174 Sophomore Brandonn Johnson (Middletown, Md.) is coming off his biggest victory of the year, a 4-1 win over No. 14 Patrick Wright (Missouri). Johnson went 3-0 with a pin in the semifinals at the Mat Town Invitational, while wrestling up a weight at 184. Nine of Johnson's 14 wins have been bonus point victories. Johnson (14-15) is No. 3 in the MAC and claimed a second place finish at the Body Bar, going 3-1. He has five pins, a technical fall and three major decisions this season.
Ohio's Nick Purdue (14-5) is No. 13 according to InterMat and No. 1 in the MAC. In last season's dual, he defeated Johnson 7-1.
184 Junior Casey Newburg (Union, Ohio) has won nine straight matches, including a 4-0 showing at the Virginia Duals with a pin and two major decisions. Newburg (23-7) is currently ranked No. 20 by The Open Mat and No. 3 in the MAC. He has won 184-pound titles at each of his last two tournaments. He recorded a pair of first period pins and a major decision at the Mat Town Invitational. Newburg also went 4-0 at the Cleveland State Open with a pin and a major decision. He went 4-1 at the Body Bar. Newburg is 5-1 in career MAC duals and 7-3 in duals this season. He has six pins, four major decisions and three technical falls.
Ohio's Ryan Garringer (7-10) is just behind Newburg in the MAC rankings at the No. 4 spot. He fell to Newburg 7-3 in last year's dual.
197 Junior Keith Witt (Oak Harbor, Ohio) has won eight of his last 10 matches and held his No. 1 spot in the latest MAC rankings. In his last dual action, Witt (18-11) defeated NIU's Mike Lukowski, who is No. 2 in the MAC rankings. Witt went 3-0 with two quick pins at the Cleveland State Open and recently went 3-2 at the Mat Town Invitational. Last month, he upset No. 11 Brent Haynes of Missouri 2-0. Witt went 3-2 in Las Vegas, coming up one win shy of placing. He placed third at the Body Bar. Since the 2009-10 season, he's tallied 20 pins.
Witt will likely face Beau Wenger (5-10), whose last victory came at the Southern Scuffle.
285 Fifth-year senior Brendan Barlow (20-8) came through with clutch victories for the Golden Flashes against both Old Dominion and Missouri on Saturday. Barlow clinched the Virginia Duals title for Kent State with a 3-2 win over nationally-ranked Devin Mellon (Missouri). His 9-1 major decision over Matt Tourdot gave KSU a 21-16 semifinal win over Old Dominion. For his efforts, he was named as the Division I Primetime Performer of the Week by CollegeSports360.com. Barlow has won nine of his last 11 matches, including a 6-3 victory over No. 9 Peter Capone (Ohio State). He is ranked No. 14 by Amateur Wrestling news and No. 3 in the MAC. He finished second at the Mat Town Invitational, going 3-1 with a pin and a major decision. Barlow placed fourth in Las Vegas, going 6-2 with wins over three Top 20 opponents.The Bobcat's Jeremy Johnson (22-5) is ranked No. 1 in the MAC and No.7 in four national polls. Last season Barlow defeated Johnson 3-2 in the dual meet and 2-1 at the MAC Championships.