Record-Courier staff report
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- In an unimaginable turn of events, No. 5 Northern Iowa's 59 match points to Kent State's 58 made the tie-breaking difference in a 19-18 Panthers win Sunday afternoon at West Gymnasium.
In its slimmest margin of victory this season, UNI remained unbeaten (11-0, 6-0 MAC). Each team won five matches: three by decision, one major decision and one technical fall.
"I knew it would be tough without Ian (Miller) in the lineup, but going in I thought we matched up well against them," KSU coach Jim Andrassy said. "I was really happy with the effort our guys gave. Even the matches we lost, we wrestled hard throughout."
All four Golden Flashes who lost on Saturday at Northern Illinois bounced back for victories on Sunday, while junior Tyler Small completed a 2-0 weekend. Small's three-point tilt in the second period helped him to a 7-2 victory over Levi Wolfensperger.
Sophomore Michael DePalma then perfected his two-on-one tilt in a 17-2 tech fall over Tyler Patten. Tied 2-2 after one period, DePalma meticulously executed four different three-point tilts in the second and one in the third.
Senior T.J. Keklak extended the Flashes' lead to 11-5 with a 9-7 decision over Jarrett Jensen. Keklak opened the match with a four-point fireman's carry and hung on for his first career MAC dual win.
"There isn't a kid who deserves it more," Andrassy said of the team captain. "That could end up being his last dual, and he deserves to go out on top."
The Flashes (10-9, 4-3 MAC) then dropped three consecutive tight matches from 165 to 184. Riding time made the difference in sophomore Tyler Buckwalter's 5-4 loss to No. 11 Cooper Moore. Junior Caleb Marsh was tied 1-1 with a minute left in the third period before getting caught in a five-point cradle.
Sophomore Cole Baxter gave Kent State the lead back at 15-14 with a 9-1 major decision over Basil Minto. Baxter scored takedowns on front headlocks three different times and built up several minutes of riding time.
Riding time was even more crucial at heavyweight in redshirt freshman Mimmo Lytle's 2-1 win over Blaize Cabell. Both wrestlers earned escapes, but Cabell's did not come until late in the third period.
"Two or three months ago, I don't think Mimmo wins that match," Andrassy said. "He used his weight to his advantage on top, and he's figuring out how to win close matches."
In the final match, No. 6 Dylan Peters claimed a 13-5 major decision over sophomore Del Vinas to temporarily tie the dual at 18-18. When the first two tiebreaking criteria were not met, officials counted and recounted total match points, discovering Northern Iowa's one-point edge.
"That was a very good team, and we need to compete like that every time out," said Andrassy. "We also showed we have that ability against Michigan and Virginia Tech, but we need to be more consistent."
Kent State heads to Ohio State Feb. 16-17 for the NWCA National Duals. Pairings for the 14-team dual tournament are expected to be released Tuesday.