By Allen Moff | Staff writer
Kent State senior Michael Heller, a former Stow High School star, was named as an automatic qualifier for the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country Championships, which will be held Saturday in Louisville, Ky.
Heller finished 10th at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Friday in Wisconsin with a time of 31:07, and will be the first male Kent State runner to compete at the national meet since Jim Loveless in 1991. Alex Lizarribar was last KSU runner to qualify for the national meet in 2009.
Wisconsin and Michigan earned automatic team bids to the NCAA meet by finishing first and second, respectively, at the Great Lakes Regional. Indiana and Michigan State received at-large bids, leaving Heller as the second-best finisher remaining from a school that will not be competing at the national meet.
Kent State’s men placed 18th at the regional meet with 482 points, while the women were 20th with 570 points. Senior Alexandria Vintevoghel led the Golden Flashes on the women’s side, placing 70th in 21:51.
The University of Louisville will host the NCAA Championships at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, which was also the site of the Pre-National Meet the Golden Flashes competed at last month. Heller, who took first in Kent State’s first two races of the 2012 season, finished fifth in Louisville.
Kent State seniors Dustin Kilgore and Casey Newburg captured tournament titles for the second consecutive weekend on Sunday at the Michigan State Open.
After pushing each other throughout the week in the practice room, the veterans each went 4-0 in the open division. Also placing in the top six were seniors Keith Witt and Stevie Mitcheff.
Kilgore, the nation’s top-ranked 197-pounder, had a pair of first-period pins and two major decisions. He needed only 1:02 to put away Michigan State’s Luke Jones in the semifinals, before earning a 17-8 victory in the finals against Ohio State’s Andrew Campolattano.
Newburg (184) allowed just two points in four matches, beginning his day with a 15-0 technical fall over Duke’s Dylan Ryan. He edged Notre Dame’s Brandonn Johnson 2-1 in the finals.
Witt’s fifth-place finish and 4-2 day included a pin in 43 seconds of Manchester’s Gabe Zimmerly at heavyweight. Mitcheff finished 3-3 at 125.
Kilgore and Newburg opened the season by capturing titles at the 2012 Buffalo Brawl Invitational on Nov. 4, while freshmen Nick Carr and Sam Wheeler each placed third.
Kilgore (197) picked up where left off at the 2011 NCAA Championships with a first-period pin of Buffalo’s Zach Ward. Kilgore then scored a convincing 10-4 semifinal win against Ohio State’s Andrew Campolattano, before getting a medical default win in the finals.
Newburg (184) won his final in dramatic fashion, a 4-2 triumph in the second sudden-victory period over Edinboro’s Vic Avery. Newburg also had a first-period pin and an 8-0 major decision on his 4-0 day.
Also making the finals was Witt, who went 3-1 to take second.
Carr went 4-1 at 149 with a tech fall and a major decision in his third-place finish. His only loss came in double-overtime against Edinboro’s David Habat in the semifinals. Wheeler (174) also went 4-1 with an overtime setback.
Mitcheff placed third at 125 pounds, going 3-1, while sophomore Kwan Bailey finished sixth at 174 with three victories.
Ranked No. 18 in the nation by InterMat, Kent State returns to action Saturday at the Navy Classic.
The Kent State wrestling staff recently added Clint Musser as a volunteer assistant. An accomplished collegiate and freestyle wrestler, Musser also brings seven years of coaching experience at the high school level.
“We’re really excited to have him, and he’s a great fit so far,” KSU head coach Jim Andrassy said. “He’s got a great knowledge of the sport and a lot of experience. He was at the top of his game when he competed, and it’s good to have him explain to our guys what it takes to get there.”
Musser, a three-time state champion at Walsh Jesuit High School, was an NCAA runner-up for Penn State at 157 pounds as a senior in 1999, winning 34 matches. He was a three-time NCAA qualifier who placed in the top three at the Big Ten Tournament in three straight seasons. In four years, he earned 123 career victories.
Musser also earned Academic All-Big Ten and honors and was a National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Academic Team member.