After clinching a Mid-American Conference regular season title this past Sunday, No. 14 Kent State (12-4) looks to take its success to the next level at the 2012 NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals Saturday. The Golden Flashes earned the No. 4 seed at the Rutgers Regional and will face host Rutgers (12-6) at 2 p.m. in the opening round.
Missouri edged out the Flashes for the No. 3 seed as the Tigers are ranked No. 13 in this week's NWCA Coaches Poll, while Kent State is No. 14. No. 4 Minnesota is the top seed and will face the winner of the Kent State/Rutgers dual in the semifinals at 4 p.m. No. 11 Michigan is the No. 2 seed and awaits the winner of Missouri/Cal Poly. The final round is slated to begin at 6 p.m. The losers of the opening round matchups will also face each other at 6 p.m., guaranteeing each team at least two dual meets. The Louis Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J. is one of four regional locations in the two-week, 24-team event. Winners will advance to a final four competition next weekend.
Kent State has won its last 10 dual meets
Three of those wins have come against Top 25 opponents (Missouri, Old Dominion, Central Michigan).
Eight of the last 10 wins have been by nine or more points.
The Flashes have a total of four wins over Top 25 opponents, beginning with a 22-15 victory over Edinboro in November.
Since the 2005-06 season, Kent State has gone 97-30-1 in duals meets. The Golden Flashes have not lost a MAC dual to a team other than Central Michigan since 2005, going 27-0-1 against the combination of Northern Illinois, Buffalo, Ohio and Eastern Michigan. KSU has now won an outright regular season conference crown twice in four years and at least share of the MAC title three times during that span.
The Golden Flashes won seven or more matches in all five of their conference duals this season.
This past weekend, senior 149-pounder Marcel Clopton became the fourth different KSU backup to earn a victory in dual meet this season. The others include Troy Opfer (125), Tommy Sasfy (165) and Ryan Buckner (197).
The Scarlet Knights will wrestle in front of their home crowd, where they are 4-2 this season. Rutgers went 3-1 in a fifth place finish at the Virginia Duals. Five of the Knights' six losses have come against Top 25 opponents.
In the Rankings
The 100-Win Club
Fifth-year seniors Brendan Barlow (Westerville, Ohio) and Nic Bedelyon (Lewistown, Pa.) each hit the 100-win milestone on Dec. 21 and both recently passed Head Coach Jim Andrassy on Kent State's career win list. Barlow's 109 wins rank eighth in school annals, while Bedelyon's 107 victories ties him for 10th place. Classmate Ross Tice (Brookfield, Ohio) is also chasing the century mark with 93 career wins. When Andrassy took over as head coach during the 2003-04 season, he was one of just four Golden Flashes with 100 career victories. That list has since grown to 12. Earlier this season, Andrassy also hit the 100-win mark as a head coach. His 111 victories are the third most among Kent State's head coaches.
125 Senior Nic Bedelyon (Lewistown, Pa.) tallied his fifth pin of the season Sunday against Eastern Michigan's Jared Germaine, who was ranked No. 3 in the MAC. Bedelyon improved to 26-2 on the year and 19-1 in career conference duals. He is ranked No. 4 in every national poll and is No. 3 in this week's RPI ratings. Bedelyon also claimed a recent victory over No. 15 Joe Roth (Central Michigan). Each of his two setbacks this season have come against No. 3 Alan Waters (Missouri), including an overtime loss at the Virginia Duals. He has chalked up 12 bonus-point wins, including three tech falls and four major decisions. Bedelyon has earned MAC Wrestler of the Week honors twice this season and has won titles at all three tournaments he's competed in: the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, the Body Bar and the Eastern Michigan Open. In November, Bedelyon defeated previous No. 3 Jarrod Patterson (Oklahoma) 7-3 in the NWCA All-Star Classic.
Rutgers sophomore Vincent Dellefave (12-9) is No. 32 in this week's coaches rankings. A Kent State victory sets up a potential matchup with No. 2 Zach Sanders (Minnesota).
133 Junior Stevie Mitcheff (Lorain,Ohio) has won nine of his last 12 matches, after starting the season 0-7 in dual meets. Mitcheff (15-14) earned a convincing 8-2 victory over Buffalo's Taylor Golba last weekend and moved up to the No. 2 spot in the MAC rankings. Although he has not yet earned a spot in a national ranking, Mitcheff is No. 31 in this week's RPI ratings. He played a critical role in the Flashes' semifinal and championship round victories at the Virginia Duals, beating Old Dominion's Scott Festejo 8-5 and Missouri's Eric Wilson 4-3. In his last tournament, Mitcheff had a third place finish at the Mat Town Invitational, going 4-1. In December, he advanced to the semifinals of the Cleveland State Open.
Michael DeMarco (Rutgers) is 18-9 on the season, but has not seen action recently. Minnesota's Chris Dardanes is No. 7.
141 Sophomore Tyler Small (Littlestown, Pa.) leads the Flashes with 27 victories after a pair of wins this past weekend, including his second of the season over No. 22 Kevin Smith (Buffalo). Small (27-7) is ranked No. 12 in this week's Division I Coaches Poll and is No. 9 according to Amateur Wrestling News. Six of Small's loses have come against the top seven wrestlers in the nation. He is 13-3 in duals on the year and went 4-0 at the Virginia Duals. Small finished second at the Mat Town Invitational with his only loss coming against defending national champion Kellen Russell. He 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 in November. 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.
Rutgers senior Billy Ashnault (19-10) is No. 23 according Division I coaches, while Minnesota's Nick Dardanes is No. 9.
149 True freshman Ian Miller (Oak Harbor, Ohio) was out of action last weekend, but could return on Saturday. On Feb. 1, Miller was named MAC Wrestler of the Week after scoring a 13-5 major decision over CMU's Joey Kielbasa. Miller (24-3) is No. 1 in the MAC, No. 4 according to W.I.N. and No. 7 according to Division I coaches. He went 4-0 at the Virginia Duals with a pin, two major decisions and a 7-3 victory over No. 12 Kyle Bradley (Missouri). Miller 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 10 major decisions and carries a 13-1 dual record. He has not lost a match since Dec. 9. Miller also won an individual title at the Body Bar.
Senior Marcel Clopton (Shaker Hts., Ohio) wrestled in his first two duals of the season last weekend and looked like he'd been doing it all season. Clopton (15-7) improved 16-6 in career duals Sunday with a convincing 9-2 victory over Eastern Michigan's Jaylyn Bohl, who is No. 3 in the MAC.
Rutgers junior Mario Mason (16-2) is No. 8 according to Division I coaches, while Minnesota's Dylan Ness is No. 10.
157 Junior Mallie Shuster (Newville, Pa.) is No. 27 according NCAA coaches after knocking off No. 26 Aaron Sulzer (EMU) 7-6 on Sunday. Shuster (21-14) is No. 3 in the MAC and 10-6 in dual meets. 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. He also has a dual victory over No. 6 James Green (Nebraska). Shuster went 3-2 in Las Vegas, coming up one win shy of placing. He has piled up 85 career victories and is 27-14 in career duals.
Rutgers has the option of redshirt freshman Anthony Volpe (5-14) or senior Dave Seidenberg (4-10). Minnesota could use Alec Ortiz (11-8) or Danny Zilverberg.
165 Fifth year senior Ross Tice (Brookfield, Ohio) came back from a 7-3 deficit on Sunday and defeated Eastern Michigan's Lester France 13-8. As a result Tice (9-11) moved up to the No. 3 spot in the MAC rankings. Tice suffered a pair of one-point losses at the Virginia Duals, including a 5-4 setback in the final seconds against No. 16 Zach Toal (Missouri). He originally injured his knee Nov. 19 at the Body Bar after recording a pair pins in a trip to the semifinals. He then re-aggravated it in his first bout at the Las Vegas Invitational. Tice was MAC Tournament runner-up at 165 in each of the last two seasons, earning back-to-back appearances at the NCAA Championships, where he has three career wins.
Rutgers junior Scott Winston (16-5) is No. 18 according NCAA coaches, while Minnesota's Cody Yohn is No. 14.
174 Sophomore Brandonn Johnson (Middletown, Md.) led No. 23 Phillip Joseph (EMU) 4-1 on Sunday, before getting pinned in the second period. Johnson (15-18) claimed his biggest victory of the year in the championship round of the Virginia Duals, a 4-1 win over No. 14 Patrick Wright (Missouri). Johnson went 3-0 at the Mat Town Invitational with a pin in the semifinals, while wrestling up a weight at 184. Nine of Johnson's 15 wins have been bonus point victories. Johnson is No. 4 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.
Rutgers junior Greg Zanetti (23-3) is No. 14 according NCAA coaches, while Minnesota's Logan Storley is No. 5.
184 Junior Casey Newburg (Union, Ohio) has won 12 of his last 13 matches, with his only setback coming against No. 5 Ben Bennett (CMU). Newburg (26-8) earned major decisions in each of his two victories last weekend, bringing his season total to eight, which is tied for the team lead. He is No. 22 in this week's coaches poll and No. 16 according to the Open Mat. Newburg had a perfect 4-0 showing at the Virginia Duals with a pin and two major decisions. 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 10-4 in duals this season. He has 15 bonus-point wins, including four pins and three technical falls.
Potential opponents include Rutgers senior Dan Seidenberg (11-10) and No. 7 Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota).
197 Junior Keith Witt (Oak Harbor, Ohio) completed a 5-0 run in MAC duals and has won 12 of his last 14 matches, including a pin against Buffalo last weekend. Witt (22-11) is No. 1 in the MAC rankings and No. 29 according Division I coaches. Witt went 3-0 with two quick pins at the Cleveland State Open and went 3-2 at the Mat Town Invitational. In December, 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 21 pins.
Rutgers junior Dan Rinaldi (19-4) is No. 22 according NCAA coaches, while Minnesota's Sonny Yohn is No. 5.
285 Fifth-year senior Brendan Barlow (Westerville, Ohio) has won three straight, including a victory over No. 17 Peter Sturgeon (CMU). Barlow (23-9) is No. 11 according to W.I.N. and No. 16 according to Division I coaches. He also moved up to the No. 2 spot in the MAC rankings. Barlow came through with clutch victories for the Golden Flashes against both Old Dominion and Missouri at the Virginia Duals. 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 help gave KSU a 21-16 semifinal win over Old Dominion. Barlow has won 12 of his last 15 matches and owns wins against five different Top 20 opponents. 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.
Rutgers has the option of senior Dan Hopkins (6-10) or sophomore Carl Buchholz (4-3). Minnesota's Anthony Nelson is No. 4.