Kent State Sports Report: Football, basketball players see brief break come to end

By Allen Moff | Staff writer Published:

That brief break between the end of the spring semester and the start of summer classes has officially elapsed for Kent State's football and basketball players, who were due back on campus Sunday as summer classes and workouts begin today.

Golden Flashes men's basketball coach Rob Senderoff said last week that all of the team's returnees were to report on Sunday along with newcomers Gary Akbar and Raasean Davis. They will attend summer classes and take part in an eight-week summer basketball program.

Kent State is close to releasing its 2014-15 men's basketball schedule, which features a Dec. 30 date at national power Kansas. The Flashes will play seven non-conference home games and host a tournament for the second straight year.

Kent State will also play in the 2014 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational hosted by UTEP Dec. 21-22 at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, and will face a North Dakota State squad that won 26 games and upset Oklahoma in last year's NCAA Tournament.

On the football side, second-year head coach Paul Haynes reports that several players spent their 'break' working out on campus in preparation for the 2014 opener against Ohio on Sept. 30 at Dix Stadium.

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m., and the game will be followed by the "biggest fireworks display in the history of Portage County," presented by AMETEK.

The starting times for several other 2014 games were released last week. The Flashes will host South Alabama on Sept. 6 at 2 p.m., will celebrate its 2014 Homecoming on Oct. 18 by hosting Army at 3:30 p.m., then will play at Miami on Oct. 25 at 2:30 p.m.

Five Kent State players were named to Phil Steele's 2014 Preseason All-MAC team, including a First Team selection for punter Anthony Melchiori (Aurora). Offensive lineman Jason Bitsko and tight end Casey Pierce were Second Team choices, while running back Trayion Durham and defensive lineman Nate Terhune claimed spots on the Fourth Team.

Melchiori was an All-MAC Second Team punter as a sophomore in 2013, and also served as the Flashes' starting kicker. Bitsko started all 12 games at right tackle last year. Pierce had a breakthrough junior season in 2013, making 33 catches for 364 yards and five touchdowns.

Durham enters his senior season ranked fifth among Kent State's career rushing leaders with 2,756 yards and ninth in rushing touchdowns with 24. Terhune finished second on the team in tackles for loss in 2013, despite missing a portion of the year with a leg injury.

TRACK AND FIELD

Kent State sophomores Dior Delophont and Jesse Oxley were named to the Capital One Academic All-District 5 First Team.

Delophont, a fashion design major, carries a 3.94 cumulative grade-point average. This season she was the MAC champion in the high jump (5-11.5) and the triple jump (42-11).

Oxley, an exercise science major with a 3.73 cumulative grade-point average, tied for second at the MAC Championships in the pole vault (16-7.5).

BASEBALL

Kent State senior first baseman Cody Koch was named to the NCAA Louisville Regional All-Tournament Team.

Koch batted .333 on the weekend with a .500 on-base percentage. He hit .330 for the year with a team-high seven home runs, 54 runs scored, and 56 RBI. He was named the MAC Tournament MVP.

VOLLEYBALL

Kent State coach Don Gromala's 2014 recruiting class has been ranked among the top 100 in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com for the first time since 2007.

Brittney Jakscht (East Troy, Wis.) is the most decorated of the group, earning the Andi Collins Award as the nation's top senior setter from PrepVolleyball.com.

The class also features outside hitter Kelsey Bittinger (Strongsville), who was ranked by PrepVolleyball.com as one of the nation's top 250 recruits in the class of 2014.

WOMEN'S GOLF

Kent State freshman Wad Phaewchimplee has been named Honorable Mention All-American. The Thailand native is ranked 59th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings after finishing 28th at the NCAA Championships, following a four-stroke victory at the NCAA Central Regional. She's ranked 34th by Golfstat.

Phaewchimplee is the third Kent State WGCA All-American in the program's 16-year history, joining Martina Gillen (2001, '02) and Tara Delaney (2006).

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Josee Doyon has been named First Team Academic All-MAC, while Natalie Goodson and Erin Hawe were Honorable Mention selections.

Doyon was a First Team All-MAC player who finished sixth at the MAC Championships. Goodson took second at the MAC tourney, while Hawe recorded a pair of top-10 finishes during her senior season.

WRESTLING

Kent State's Ian Miller put together one dominant match after another on his way to claiming the 74-kilogram championship May 24-25 at the 2014 Asics FILA University Nationals, held at the University of Akron's Stile Athletics Field House.

Miller went 8-0 on the weekend, with a pair of first-period pins in his best-of-three championship round.

In a bracket loaded with some of the nation's best freestyle competitors, Miller won five of his first six matches by technical fall. He blanked each of his first three opponents by identical scores of 10-0, then knocked off Mitchell Polkowske 6-1 in his closest match of the weekend.

Miller shutout Brian Murphy 11-0 in the quarterfinals, then defeated Ohio State's Bo Jordan by the same count in the semifinals.

Waiting for Miller in the final round was two-time NCAA finalist and four-time All-American Tyler Caldwell. In their first bout, Miller hoisted Caldwell high in the air and planted him directly on his shoulder blades. In the rematch, it took just 16 seconds for Miller to set up and execute a throw that ended the match.

Following his second University Nationals title in three years, Miller was named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler and Flo Wrestler of the Week. He is now eligible to compete in international freestyle events this summer.

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Dustin Kilgore finished second at the USA World Team Trials in Madison, Wis. Kilgore, who earned Kent State's first national title in 2011, lost to Jake Varner in the 213-pound finals. Varner, a two-time national champion at Iowa State, is ranked No. 1 in the country at 213 while Kilgore is ranked sixth in the latest poll. Varner won a pair of matches against Kilgore by counts of 7-2 and 5-2.

Kilgore defeated fourth-ranked Deron Winn 5-1 to take first in the challenge tournament.

MEN'S GOLF

Kent State seniors Corey Conners and Taylor Pendrith were honored as Division I PING All-Midwest Region selections by the Golf Coaches Association of America.

Conners won three times during his senior year, finishing as medalist at both the MAC Championship and the Gopher Invitational and sharing first at the General Hackler Championship. He finished the season with a 72.9 stroke average and five top-10 finishes.

Pendrith advanced to the NCAA Championships after qualifying as an individual with his third-place finish at the NCAA Sugar Grove Regional. He shot 2-over par over three rounds at Rich Harvest Farms near Chicago to earn his spot as the low individual not already on a qualifying team. Pendrith led the Flashes with a 71.9 stroke average and had 11 top-20 finishes.

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Conners and fellow senior Kyle Kmiecik have been selected to the 2014 Academic All-MAC Team. Conners was also an Academic All-MAC selection in 2012 and 2013, while Kmiecik (75.1 stroke average) returns to the Academic All-MAC team for the second consecutive year.

"This is a fitting end to their careers," said KSU coach Herb Page. "During their Kent State careers they made three trips to the NCAA finals, and they had a hand in four MAC Championships. And their majors are not easy - actuarial mathematics for Conners and finance for Kmiecik."

STAFF

Kent State Director of Strength and Conditioning Bob Lemieux was recently named Master Strength and Conditioning Coach by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches association. The honor is the highest given in the strength and conditioning coaching profession.

Lemieux is in his 14th year at Kent State, where he has worked with every varsity sport. He currently works directly with the men's and women's basketball, volleyball, wrestling and men's golf programs. Lemieux has co-authored multiple publications in peer reviewed strength training and nutrition journals, and has spoken at local and regional clinics and conferences on strength training, program development and nutrition. He also serves as a consultant on the scientific advisory board for the Center for Applied Health Sciences.

Email: amoff@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9445

Twitter: @AllenMoff_RC

Facebook: Allen Moff, Record-Courier

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