Wrestling team wins 11th straight MAC tournament championship
The Central Michigan wrestling team won its 11th-straight Mid-American Conference tournament championship title with help from three wrestlers making their first postseason appearance March 4 at Athens,Ohio.
The Chippewas fended off MAC regular season champion Kent State 89-79, after holding a two-point lead over the Golden Flashes entering the finals.
“Our guys fought really hard the whole tournament,” head coach Tom Borrelli said. “It was really important to them to not be the team to let the streak that we have going die.”
Chippewas true freshman Zach Horan of the 133-pound division took his 0-1 mark in the MAC and defeated the first ranked wrestler in his bracket, on his way to a conference title.
He defeated a fellow unranked foe in Robert Jillard of Northern Illinois 5-0 in the conference title matchup.
Nobody wearing maroon and gold said they were surprised by Horan’s performance. He was the No. 17 ranked recruit in the nation and was a three-time state runner-up.
“I expected to do well and yeah, I planned on winning,” Horan said. “I’m really happy about it. I didn’t have anything to lose. I was unseeded. No one other than my coaches and me expected me to really do much.”
He played in a de-facto play-in match against teammate Tyler Keselring on Feb. 24 to earn a spot in the starting lineup.
“I (didn’t) think either one of them would have let us down because everything they had to fight through to get the opportunity,” Borrelli said.
It came by no surprise that the Chippewas spark plug in sophomore Joe Roth and true freshman Mike Ottinger also won a conference title on their first attempt.
Roth was named the tournaments’ Most Outstanding Wrestler.
CMU junior Ben Bennett breezed through his matches by grabbing a pin in his first time out and beating Brad Dieckhaus 8-1 to win his third conference title.
Donnie Corby was another CMU junior who won a championship. It was his first.
CMU wrestlers Peter Sturgeon and Scott Mattingly earned an NCAA bid without a conference title to their name.
Sturgeon won his first match in sudden victory, but lost his second in the same fashion. He finished in third place.
“His weight class and the 125-pound weight class were probably two of the most even weight classes in the conference,” Borrelli said. “Both of those weight classes had very good individuals all the way through.”
Mattingly was the only CMU wrestler defeated in the first round. He won every match in the losers’ bracket, but one that he forfeited because his NCAA bid was sealed.
CMU is now alone in first in MAC tournament championships with 16.
Seven Chippewas will wrestle in the NCAA Championships beginning Thursday in St. Louis, Mo.
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