Wrestling clinches MAC regular season title Sunday in bizarre meet against Kent State
The wrestling team secured at least a share of the 2013 Mid-American Conference regular season title Sunday by beating Kent State 27-8 in front of 737 spectators.
Despite winning eight of 10 matches and earning its 13th regular season title, Central Michigan head coach Tom Borrelli said he wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance.
“It’s nice to win; it’s nice to win in the conference, but I’m not real happy with the way we wrestled today,” Borrelli said. “It didn’t feel like we were aggressive enough; it didn’t feel like we were offensive enough. In a lot of the matches, we didn’t score enough takedowns on our feet.”
The Golden Flashes did not wrestle up to their potential Borrelli said, which baffled him.
“I don’t know what was going on a little bit,” he said. “I think they wrestled their second-teamer at 165, I think they wrestled their second-teamer at 149 and I’m not sure if that’s their first-teamer at 141. I’m not sure if they were trying to get a look at us before the conference tournament; I don’t really know what was going on.”
Points were hard to come by for both sides with eight matches ending by decision, two of which ended 1-0.
“We won a lot of matches, but we won 1-0 at 125 and 1-0 at 184,” Borrelli said. “When you’re winning that way, anything can happen in a match and the guy steals the match from you. I don’t like our guys being in that position. We’ve got to make them wrestle us to beat us.”
The Chippewas got out to a quick lead with a 1-0 decision by senior 125-pounder Christian Cullinan and a 6-1 decision by senior 133-pounder Scotti Sentes.
Senior 184-pounder No. 2 Ben Bennett won the other 1-0 decision, though he was visibly frustrated afterward, kicking a pile of clothing as he made his way through the tunnel.
“I don’t think we work as hard as we do to wrestle a 1-0 match,” Bennett said. “To me, that just isn’t acceptable. When I go out there, I expect to get bonus points every match, and I don’t like wrestling close matches, so I was pretty upset. He wasn’t really trying to win the match; he was just trying to keep it close.”
Junior 141-pounder Scott Mattingly only needed 2:12 to pin Luke Kern to give the team a 13-point lead. After falling behind by a takedown early, Mattingly scored a reversal to tie the match at 2-2 before pinning Kern.
“Anytime you score bonus points, it’s important, and a pin really gets the crowd excited, and that’s the other thing our athletes need to understand,” Borrelli said. “The more you dominate your opponent, the more exciting the sport is and the more people are going to come back.”
Senior Donnie Corby, freshman 157-pounder Lucas Smith and sophomore 165-pounder Mike Ottinger won the next three matches by decision, taking a commanding 22-point lead.
Sam Wheeler gave the Golden Flashes its first points in the 174-pound match, beating junior Craig Kelliher 5-2.
KSU’s only other win came by pin when No. 1 Dustin Kilgore ended redshirt freshman Jackson Lewis’ day in 1:43 at 197 pounds.
Senior heavyweight Jarod Trice capped off the meet with a 2-0 decision, getting his only points from an escape and riding time.
The Golden Flashes were penalized a point following the 125-pound match for unsportsmanlike conduct.
No. 11 CMU remains undefeated in conference play and improves to 11-3 overall.
The team will take on its final conference opponent – Eastern Michigan – on Feb. 8 at McGuirk Arena, but not before hosting Old Dominion at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
“I could see Old Dominion coming in here and wrestling,” Borrelli said. “They’re not going to try to stand around and win a close match, and I think we wrestle better against teams like that.”
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