COLUMN: Cullinan is more important to the team than people think

Senior Christian Cullinan is quietly taking over the 125-pound weight class for the No. 11 Chippewas.

Cullinan is the No. 10 wrestler in the nation, but, because of his fellow senior teammates, Ben Bennett and Jarod Trice at 184 pounds and heavyweight, respectively, his importance to the team can be overlooked.

Both Bennett and Trice are ranked nationally, Bennett being No. 2 and Trice being No. 7, so Cullinan’s matches don’t get the attention they deserve.

Cullinan has wrestled at three different weight classes in his career as a Chippewa (125, 133 and 141) with a career record of 41-32, 5-2 in the Mid-American Conference.

Cullinan placed third at the Mid-American Conference championships in the 2010-11 season at the 125-pound weight class. He then moved up to the 133 weight class and then eventually the 141 weight class in the 2011-12 season, still finding success in both.

Now when he is back in the lineup at 125 pounds, Cullinan is the first match of the day for CMU and gets the team many of the early leads that help them win big matches.

He has an overall record of 17-5 this season after defeating freshman Dale Boyd of Missouri by major decision (11-0) last week and senior Stevie Mitcheff of Kent State 1-0 with a hurt knee Sunday.

“He may not have won by a lot,” head coach Tom Borrelli said. “But, he did win, just like we needed him to. That lead stayed with us the whole time.”

Cullinan is now undefeated (2-0) in the MAC.

“Cullinan really sets the tone,” Borrelli said. “So it’s important that his matches show what we have been working on.”

Mitcheff has more mat time on the season than Cullinan with a record of 21-10 but still couldn’t get the takedown he needed to win.

“I hurt my knee,” Cullinan said. “But, I should have never put myself in that position. I need to be in the right position at the right time. Hopefully it won’t affect me too much in practice, because we still have a lot of work to do.”

The Chippewas kept their lead the entire meet and won 27-8 to clinch yet another MAC regular-season championship.

With the MAC title out of the way, the Chippewas mindset is on a higher goal.

Cullinan and his team are focusing on nationals more than anything else at this point.

“Getting ready for nationals is the main priority right now for all of us," Cullinan said. "Like coach Borrelli said, 'we just have to keep getting better.'”


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