Kent State wrestling has bright spots despite 27-6 loss to ninth-ranked Ohio State

By Allen Moff | Staff writer Published:

By Allen Moff | Staff writer

Although a stunning upset simply wasn't in the cards, Kent State's wrestling team still provided thrills to a great home crowd while falling 27-6 to No. 9 Ohio State at the M.A.C. Center on Thursday.

Sophomores Ian Miller (157 pounds) and Tyler Buckwalter (165) earned victories for the Golden Flashes, while fellow sophomore Mack McGuire nearly knocked off local hero Johnni DiJulius of OSU in the match of the night at 133. Junior Caleb Marsh (174) and sophomores Sam Wheeler (184) and Cole Baxter (197) also suffered tough losses for Kent State, making the final score somewhat misleadingly lopsided.

"We lost every close match except for Buckwalter. For us to be comparable to Ohio State we need to win those close ones," said Flashes coach Jim Andrassy. "I knew going in that it could end up like that. We weren't ranked higher in any match except for 157. You look at our guys and we've got two guys that are state champs, and you look at their roster and every one of those guys are two- and three-time state champs.

"I think we've got a good young group; we don't have any seniors. For us it's just learning how to win."

DiJulius, a redshirt sophomore from Aurora who won three state titles at Walsh Jesuit High School, entered the match against McGuire ranked eighth in the country.

After going 19-15 and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament as a freshman, DiJulius went 21-6 while competing in open tournaments last year before reeling off 15 wins in 16 matches to start the 2013-14 campaign.

McGuire, ranked No. 23 in the country, trailed 1-0 after surrendering a second-period escape but nearly notched a takedown in the closing seconds of the period. He piled up enough riding time early in the match to earn a point and force overtime, and neither wrestler scored in the first extra session.

In ride out overtime, McGuire chose the up position and DiJulius reversed him for what proved to be the winning points.

"I'm a little disappointed," said McGuire (11-4). "I couldn't get my shots in. Going in I was excited. I think when they called DiJulius' name more people shouted for him then me, but that's fine - he lives 15 minutes away from here. I definitely wanted to win."

Andrassy gave DiJulius credit for winning a difficult match.

"That's a guy that knows how to win matches," said Andrassy. "He never gets flustered, he just continues with his match. He's been doing it his whole career and he did it again tonight. Mack needs to figure out how to win those matches if he wants to break that top 10."

Miller got the Flashes on the scoreboard with an 11-4 victory over Randy Languis at 157. Miller, ranked eighth in the country, recorded a pair of takedowns in each of the first two periods and cruised to his 13th victory of the season in 14 matches.

"With all my matches I like to get the first takedown. Once I do then it just seems to snowball," said Miller. "I like to do big moves, but when you can't get your big moves you've gotta go back to the solid stuff.

"I've been looking forward to this match all year, had it marked on my calendar. I know all the Ohio State dudes, so I know it's gonna be a great match every year."

Buckwalter made it two in a row for the home team with a come-from behind 9-5 victory over Joe Grandominico at 165. He fell behind quickly but tied the match at 5-5 with a second-period near fall. Buckwalter added a takedown in the third period and rode Grandominico out to secure his third win in as many bouts this season, which was interrupted for a few weeks by a knee injury suffered during the preseason.

"I came out a little bit slow. I was a little bit nervous in the beginning and gave up a couple takedowns," said Buckwalter. "Sometimes it takes me a little time to get into the match. But then once I got into it I got that turn and back points, then I got the takedown in the third period."

Trailing 15-6, the Flashes had a chance to make things interesting. Instead, the match got away quickly following three straight narrow losses.

Marsh, ranked 22nd, tied his match against No. 18 Mark Martin at 2-2 with a third-period escape. But Martin snagged his ankle and completed a takedown with about 15 seconds left to earn a 4-2 win.

Wheeler (No. 16) went toe-to-toe with OSU's Kenny Courts (No. 12) in another battle of highly ranked wrestlers. His takedown with just under a minute left tied the match at 8-8, but Courts (18-3) took the lead with an escape then recorded a late takedown to hand Wheeler (12-2) just his second loss of the year.

Unranked Baxter then had a shot to stun No. 4 Nick Heflin at 197, tying the match at 1-1 with a third-period escape. But the unbeaten Heflin (10-0) recorded a late takedown, and went on to win 3-2.

"Ian did what he was supposed to. I don't think that guy ever touched his knees once," said Andrassy. "Now we've gotta get some of these other guys to follow Ian's lead and learn how to win those kind of matches. Every one of those guys that lost are sophomores or freshmen. They're wrestling good, quality kids. They just need to get better."

Despite the loss, Andrassy was thrilled with the experience his young squad gained while battling the Buckeyes in front of a large crowd.

"I was surprised at how many Kent State fans were there compared to Ohio State," said Andrassy. "Usually we draw about just as (many fans) for Ohio State as we do for Kent State. They've got four or five Northeast Ohio kids. But if you listened to the crowd I thought we had a great following for our guys. We had a great crowd, a great environment for college wrestling."

nnn

OHIO STATE 27, KENT STATE 6

(At M.A.C. Center)

125 -- Nick Roberts (O) tech. fall Del Vinas, 4:34

133 -- Johnni DiJulius (O) dec. Mack McGuire, 3-1 ride out OT

141 -- Logan Stieber (O) maj. dec. Tyler Small, 10-0

149 -- Ian Paddock (O) dec. Mike DePalma, 11-6

157 -- Ian Miller (K) dec. Randy Languis, 11-4

165 -- Tyler Buckwalter (K) dec. Joe Grandominico, 9-5

174 -- Mark Martin (O) dec. Calem Marsh, 4-2

184 -- Kenny Courts (O) dec. Sam Wheeler, 11-10

197 -- Nick Heflin (O) dec. Cole Baxter, 3-2

285 -- Nick Tavanello (O) dec. Mimmo Lytle, 3-1

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