Record-Courier staff report
Kent State wrestler Caleb Marsh was awarded an at-large bid to the 2014 NCAA Championships on Wednesday, giving the Golden Flashes a fourth NCAA qualifier. Only four at-large bids were available at 174 pounds, but Marsh's wins over several highly ranked opponents throughout a tough Kent State schedule likely impacted the selection committee's decision.
A junior, Marsh is 18-11 on the year, with eight wins against opponents who earned automatic bids to this year's NCAA Championships. Among "on the bubble" 174-pounders, the next highest win total against automatic qualifiers was three.
Marsh recently placed sixth at the MAC Championships in a bracket that carried five automatic qualifying spots. A two-time MAC Wrestler of the Week this season, 10 of Marsh's 11 losses have come against automatic qualifiers. Marsh will be making his second trip to the NCAA Championships.
At this past Sunday's MAC Championships, KSU sophomores Mack McGuire, Michael DePalma and Ian Miller each earned automatic bids to the NCAA Championships.
Brackets and seeds for the 2014 NCAA Championships at Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy Arena were also released Wednesday. Miller (27-4) earned the No. 4 seed at 157 pounds and will take on Edinboro's Johnny Greisheimer (24-9) in the opening round.
McGuire claimed the No. 16 and final seed at 133 and will take on a familiar foe in Missouri's Matt Manley (23-14) in the opening round.
DePalma will battle No. 9 seed Eric Grajales of Michigan at 149.
Marsh, meanwhile, will face No. 6 seed Logan Storley (30-5) of Minnesota in the opening round.
KSU sophomore Cole Baxter (197) and junior Tyler Small (141) were passed over for at-large spots despite strong seasons. Baxter had more overall wins and more wins against automatic qualifiers than any other "on the bubble" wrestler at 197. Small's seven wins against automatic qualifiers stood out against other at-large candidates.
This is the ninth straight season that Kent State will be sending four or more of its wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, which begin March 20.