The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

High School Sports

June 6, 2009

Keklak picks Kent State

When T.J. Keklak had to make a decision about where he wanted to wrestle in college, it came down to one thing: What felt like home.

That’s why the Westmont Hilltop senior chose Kent State over Maryland.

“The assistant coach who recruited me, Josh Moore – a Penn State guy – reminded me of my high school coaches,” Keklak said Friday. “I loved (Westmont Hilltop) coach (Matt) Beaujon, coach (Mark) Miller and coach (Derrick) Callihan. It seemed right. It was a perfect fit.”

Under head coach Jim Andrassy, Kent State went 13-4 last season, including 5-0 in the Mid-American Conference. The Golden Flashes finished 12th in the NCAA tournament, with a pair of All-Americans in former Indian Valley standout Nic Bedelyon (125 pounds) and Jermail Porter (285).

“That’s one of the things they stressed,” Keklak said. “This used to be one of the bottom-feeder programs, but anymore, they’re really on the rise.”

In addition to Bedelyon, another former Pennsylvania standout should be a big part of the Kent State program in years to come. Mallie Shuster, a 2008 PIAA Class AAA champion at Big Spring High School, went 33-9 in open tournaments while redshirting this season.

Shuster is a 157-pounder, which would give Keklak – who plans to wrestle 149 in college

– a great workout partner.

“He’s a tough kid,” Keklak said. “That would be great to work out with him every day. Just being around guys like that, that could really help me.”

Beaujon said that has been Keklak’s attitude since he broke into the Hilltoppers’ lineup four years ago, winning 30 matches as a freshman.

“He’s always looking to improve. That’s what makes him a pleasure to coach,” Beaujon said of Keklak, who placed eighth in the state tournament this season after winning District 6 and Southwest Regional titles. “He’ll keep working until he cracks that lineup and becomes an impact wrestler.”

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