COLUMN: Two freshman wrestlers stand out
If Mike Ottinger was the New England Patriots of the Central Michigan wrestling team, Zach Horan was the New York Giants.
But unlike Super Bowl XLII and XLVI, both come out winners in one way.
CMU – rightfully – gave equal credence to their accomplishments by recognizing them both as the Chippewas Freshman of the Year.
Ottinger was 23-10 and 4-0 in the Mid-American Conference, at the 165-pound weight class.
He surprised many by getting acclimated quickly to the college game. His best wins were over Dan Yates and Mark Lewandowski, who made it to the round of 24 and 32 in the NCAA Championships, respectively.
Horan was an underdog throughout the postseason.
On a day of few upsets and no buzzer-beaters in the NCAA Basketball Tournament Thursday, March 15, Horan pulled of a last second victory in upset fashion against No. 12 Bryan Ortenzio, 5-4, in the first round of the NCAA Championships.
The teammates share more than the accolade CMU gave them. They were the first pair of Chippewas true freshmen to make it to the NCAA Championships in the same year. They are also roommates. On occasion, they gave each other encouragement.
Another connection that they have is their home state of Pennsylvania, which has its share of formidable wrestling programs.
They both said they were sold by the coaching staff at CMU.
Where their connections drift off is their recruitment though.
Ottinger was somewhat unheralded, even as a state champion his senior season, while Horan was the 17th ranked recruit in the nation.
Horan made it to the state championship every year in high school and pulled out one win.
Ottinger was a small fish in a big pond. Borrelli said most recruits come in with more credentials, but he pointed to Ottinger’s toughness as a reason for his success.
Horan and Ottinger have three years of eligibility left at CMU.
It is safe to assume that they will be competing for better things than a Freshman of the Year award, in the next couple seasons.