Strong day two not enough, wrestling finishes third in MAC Tournament

The 2017 Mid American Conference wrestling tournament had a disappointing start, but a better second day for the Central Michigan wrestling team.

“We came back strong,” said head coach Tom Borrelli. “Our guys got their head up and competed hard today. I’m really proud of them.”

Colin Heffernan finished second at 157 pounds to Joey Lavaliere, 4-3 in double overtime. Lavallee won the second overtime on riding time. Heffernan thought he scored a takedown as time expired, but instant replay showed otherwise.

“We thought (Heffernan) should have had that takedown,” Borelli said. “We thought he should have had a takedown in the first period as well. We didn’t get either of those calls unfortunately.”

Heffernan also thought he had the win.

“I thought I had the takedown,” Heffernan said. “It was kind of a roller coaster match because one it was so long and two there were so many ups and downs.”

Central Michigan finished third in the MAC tournament. Northern Iowa finished second and Missouri won its fifth straight MAC Tournament title.

Four Chippewas finished third in their weight classes.

Freshman Mason Smith finished third at 141 pounds with a win over Eastern Michigan's Kyle Springer. Sophomore Justin Oliver finished third at 149 with an 8-0 victory over NIU's Steven Bleise.

Juniors CJ Brucki and Jordan Ellingwood also finished third. Brucki earned a 6-4 victory against Muhamed McBryde of Buffalo at 174 pounds, while Ellingwood earned a a 4-3 win over Matthew Lemanowicz of Missouri at 184.

Senior Corey Keener finished fourth, losing his third place match to Josh Alber of Northern Illinois 9-2.

Senior Austin Severn and Junior Newton Smerchek each finished fifth.

Severn earned a 3-2 victory over Kent State's Stephen Suglio at 197, and Smerchek scored a pin 1:13 into his match against Will Hilliard of Old Dominion in heavyweight action.

This was also the first appearance for Newton Smerchek in nearly a month while recovering from a knee injury.

“I was very blessed to wrestle again,” Smerchek said. “I didn’t feel any pain. I had two matches I wish I had back, but it’s a blessing to be able to wrestle.”

Freshman Logan Parks finished sixth after a 3-2 loss to Isaac Bast of Kent State. Parks had to wrestle in for the eighth seed on Saturday.

Junior Brent Fleetwood finished seventh at 125 pounds. Fleetwood, coming in as the No. 2 seed, defeated Old Dominion’s Steven Simpson 8-2 in his final consolation match.

Six Chippewas qualified for the NCAA tournament. Keener, Heffernan, Brucki, Ellingwood, Smith and Oliver punched their tickets to St. Louis, meeting criteria for their weight class.

Brent Fleetwood, Severn and Smerchek are left waiting to see if they draw at-large bids for the national tournament.

“Hopefully I did enough,” said Smerchek. “It’s not up to me, but I’ll be happy no matter what.

The 2017 NCAA Championships will be on March 16-18 in St. Louis, Missouri and can be seen on ESPN.