Small, Miller & Witt Win Titles, but Flashes Finish Second at MAC Championships
ATHENS, Ohio – Hopes of a conference tournament title will have to wait another year for Kent State, who finished second to Central Michigan for the seventh year in a row Sunday at the Convocation Center. The Golden Flashes claimed three individual titles, nine top four placements and five automatic NCAA bids, but the Chippewas saved their best wrestling for the end of the year once again.
Freshman Ian Miller (Oak Harbor, Ohio), sophomore Tyler Small (Littlestown, Pa.) and junior Keith Witt (Oak Harbor, Ohio) all earned convincing victories in their final matches to win individual championships. However, Central Michigan won five individual crowns.
"I'm disappointed we couldn't close the deal," Jim Andrassy said. "I thought we brought the better team, but it was the little things we didn't do. We're trying to make that next step. Some guys are doing it, but we're not doing it consistently as a team."
Miller was dominant in his final with a 12-3 major decision over Buffalo's Blake Roulo. Pushing the pace throughout, Miller was awarded three different stalling points. Miller vs. Roulo Video
"I just wanted to have non-stop motion and control the match," Miller said.
In his semifinal, Miller jumped out to 4-1 first period lead over CMU's Joey Kielbasa and coasted to a 12-8 victory. Miller led 11-4 midway through the third. In his quarterfinal bout, Miller downed Eastern Michigan's Jaylyn Bohl 8-4, scoring all of his points in the first period.
Small blanked Northern Illinois' Kevin Fanta 6-0 in his final, countering a pair of Fanta's shots for takedowns. Small vs. Fanta Video
"Tyler works real hard and it's really hard to score points on him," Andrassy said.
In the semifinals, Small avenged an earlier season loss to Ohio's Darrin Boing. Small grabbed an opening period takedown and claimed a riding time point in a 3-0 victory.
Witt topped Eastern Michigan's Nick Whitenburg 8-3 in his final bout, going 3-0 on the day. A three-point cradle in the second period put Witt ahead for good. Witt vs. Whitenburg Video
"I locked a cradle up on him the first time I wrestled him, but couldn't turn him," Witt said. "It isn't my best move, but I felt strong for once."
Witt claimed a commanding 8-2 semifinal victory over Buffalo's Justin Heiserman. In the quarterfinals, Witt surrendered an opening takedown before pinning Ohio's Kyle Sanders in the first period.
Senior Nic Bedelyon (Lewistown, Pa.) settled for a second place at 125, falling to Central Michigan's Joe Roth 9-6 in the finals. With the score tied 5-5 in the third, Roth took Bedelyon down to his back for a pivotal four-point move. Roth was named Outstanding Wrestler. Bedelyon claimed a comfortable 6-2 semifinal victory over Eastern Michigan's Jared Germaine. The only points he allowed came on a late takedown.
Also coming up just short in the finals was senior heavyweight Brendan Barlow (Westerville, Ohio), who gave up a third period takedown in a 4-2 loss to Ohio's Jeremy Johnson. Barlow topped Central Michigan's Peter Sturgeon 3-1 in overtime of the semifinals, to advance to his third straight MAC title bout. Barlow and Sturgeon each rode one another out for 30 seconds in the tiebreaker round, but Barlow scored a takedown in the second sudden victory period.
Junior Mallie Shuster (Newville, Pa.) placed third, going 3-1 on the day. Shuster dropped a 4-2 decision against Eastern Michigan's Aaron Sulzer in the semifinals. With the match tied 2-2 in the third, Sulzer scored takedown to seal the win. Shuster battled back with wins over Buffalo's Wally Maziarz and Ohio's Harrison Hightower. Shuster gave up an opening takedown against Maziarz, but rallied in the third to claim an 8-4 win. In his quarterfinal bout, Shuster cradled up NIU' Tyler Loethen and pinned him in the first period.
Senior Ross Tice (Brookfield, Ohio) also placed third, going 3-1 on the day. Tice dropped a tight 3-1 decision in the semifinals against Buffalo's Mark Lewandowski. The match was scoreless after two periods, but Lewandowski's escape and takedown made the difference.
In his quarterfinal, Tice trailed NIU's Matt Mougin 3-1 in the second, before scoring seven third-period points in a 10-5 win. In the consolation semifinals, Tice also gave up the opening takedown, before topping Ohio's Miles Chapman 7-4. In a rematch with Mougin for third, Tice countered a shot, rolled him to his back and pinned him in the first.
Junior Stevie Mitcheff (Lorain, Ohio) went 1-2 in a fourth place finish. Mitcheff dropped his semifinal bout 3-2 against NIU's Rob Jillard, nearly scoring a takedown in the final seconds. In the consolation semifinals, Mitcheff jumped out to a 6-0 first period lead with a pair of tilts on his way an 11-1 major decision over Buffalo's Justin Farmer.
Junior Casey Newburg (Union, Ohio) also placed fourth. Newburg fell to NIU's Brad Dieckhaus in the semifinals and bounced back with an 11-3 major decision over Eastern Michigan's Mike Curby.
Central Michigan finished with 89 team points. Kent State totaled 79 points, well ahead of third place Eastern Michigan with 49 points.
Shuster (26-15) and Newburg (29-11) will hope to earn wild card bids to the NCAA Championships when the brackets are announced Wednesday night. The NCAA Championships will be March 15-17 in St. Louis. Barlow, Witt, Miller, Small and Bedelyon all earned automatic bids.