The wrestling team has won 11-straight Mid-American Conference Tournament Championships.
But that was not enough for the MAC coaches to place Central Michigan first in the conference preseason coaches’ poll.
The Chippewas were voted second, below the new member of the conference, Missouri.
“I don’t think we’re too worried about that,” senior Ben Bennett said. “That’s just someone else’s ranking. Missouri’s a great team. We have some tough teams in the MAC, but, either way, we’re going to have to show up. We’re going to have to be ready to wrestle.”
Senior Donnie Corby and junior Joe Roth, both individual postseason winners of the conference last season at their respective weight classes, were also slotted at second as a result of the Tigers participating in the conference tournament.
Bennett and sophomore Mike Ottinger, coming off last year’s success, were voted first in their respective divisions by the coaches.
Bennett, a three-time conference champion, has higher goals than what can be earned in the MAC.
“I want to be a national champ,” he said. “I’ve put in a lot of time and continued to work on my technique … and hopefully I’m ready by March.”
Seniors Jarod Trice and Scotti Sentes, who both took last season off for different reasons, were also given a first-place ranking.
“It’s great to have those wrestlers back in the room and have them share some of their knowledge,” Bennett said. “They bring a lot of experience. They’re great wrestlers; they’ve accomplished a lot.”
Trice spent the year vying for a spot in the 2012 Summer Olympics, and was two wins shy from representing the United States in London.
“I think he gained a lot of confidence,” head coach Tom Borrelli said. “He was able to wrestle against the best guys in the nation, and some of the best guys in the world.”
Sentes, a two-time All-American, did not wrestle last season because he was suffering from an undisclosed injury.
He lost in the intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday 6-1 to sophomore Zach Horan, who had a late-surge in the postseason last year after struggling in the regular season.
Borrelli told wrestlers at Wednesday’s practice that Sentes will be the only player who lost in the scrimmage and will still compete in the team’s first meet against Michigan Nov. 6 at McGuirk Arena.
“We don’t want him to lose any confidence in himself,” Borrelli said. “We have a lot of confidence in Scotti, and he’s coming back from an injury and we know it takes a little bit of time, but he’s going to be fine.”
Northern Iowa will participate in the conference tournament as well, though it was voted to finish seventh as a team and did not have any wrestlers ranked in the poll.