Kent State sophomore Ian Miller continued to dominate from his feet Sunday on the way to his second conference tournament title during the 2014 Mid-American Conference Wrestling Championships, held at the M.A.C. Center.
Behind four takedowns and riding time, Miller secured a 9-4 victory over Central Michigan's Luke Smith in the 157-pound finals. Miller converted a pair of duck-unders for first-period takedowns, including one in the final seconds. A Smith escape in the second cut the lead to 4-2, but Miller continued to attack and scored takedowns in the second and third periods.
"When I'm able to get my offense going, it's hard to stop," Miller said.
Joining Miller with NCAA automatic qualifying bids were KSU sophomores Michael DePalma (149) and Mack McGuire (133), who each claimed third place.
DePalma worked his two-on-one tilt in each of his two victories Sunday, downing Northern Illinois' Rob Jillard 10-3 and top-seeded Tywon Claxton (Ohio) 5-0.
DePalma clung to a 1-0 lead after two periods in his third-place match against Claxton before putting him on his back for a five-count to seal the victory.
McGuire avenged a regular-season loss to Eastern Michigan's Vincent Pizzuto with a 4-2 victory in his consolation semifinal. McGuire's third-period reversal proved to be the difference-maker. He then won his third-place match by medical forfeit over Northern Illinois' Nick Smith.
Sophomores Cole Baxter (197) and Tyler Buckwalter (165) each took fifth place. After losing to Central Michigan's Nick Becker 4-1 on Saturday, Buckwalter returned the favor Sunday with a 6-3 decision, scoring takedowns in the first and second periods.
Baxter topped Northern Iowa's Jared Bartel 6-2 in his fifth-place bout. Baxter slipped through a Bartel headlock attempt for a first-period takedown and jumped out to a 4-0 lead with a reversal early in the second period.
Baxter, Caleb Marsh (174) and Tyler Small (141) will keep their fingers crossed for NCAA at-large bids, which will be announced during the week.
Kent State finished sixth in the team standings with 67 points. For the second straight season Missouri won the team title, scoring 118.5 points to edge Northern Iowa (116).
The 2014 NCAA Championships will be held March 20-22 inside Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy Center.