Wrestling gets weekend off after splitting dual meets

Orland Park, Illinois senior CJ Brucki wrestles Buffalo's freshman Jake Lanning during the match against Buffalo on Jan. 21 in McGuirk Arena.

The Missouri Tigers continued their Mid-American Conference dominance over Central Michigan on Jan. 19. 

Central Michigan wrestling's three-meet homestand was cut short this weekend with the 29-6 loss to No. 3 Missouri then a 26-9 victory over Buffalo on Jan. 21.

The Chippewas sit at 6-4 on the season with a 3-1 record in Mid-American Conference play.

Senior Colin Heffernan returned to action against Buffalo after a six-week absence due to a right shoulder injury.

“My shoulder felt good. I think I can work on my conditioning a bit, but getting rid of that rust will just come with time,” Heffernan said. "The more times I compete, the more practice I get under my belt the more that rust will go away.”

CMU lost No. 3 Justin Oliver (149-pound weight class) to injury following his loss to Missouri's No. 11 Grant Leeth. An MRI was conducted on the junior’s right knee on Jan. 20. His status is unknown at this time, but Borrelli hinted that Oliver might be out for a while. 

Oliver was seen walking in the hallway of McGuirk Arena without a brace on his knee or crutches, but his status is still questionable. 

True freshman Nolan Saxton will fill Oliver’s spot in the lineup until Oliver's return.

Missouri dominance

Redshirt freshman Drew Hildebrandt (125) started off Friday’s action with a 5-4 victory over last year's MAC runner-up Barlow McGhee, scoring a late takedown on the senior.

The next eight matches proved why the Tigers are No. 3 in the nation, emerging victorious in all three top 20 clashes.

Ninth-ranked Mason Smith (141), No. 3 Oliver, and No. 15 CJ Brucki (174) all lost their individual matches, with Brucki’s loss resulting in a major decision. Smith fell 6-0 to No. 3 Jaydin Eirman, Oliver fell to Leeth and Brucki fell to No. 4 Daniel Lewis, a reigning All-American at 165 pounds.

The Chippewas' only other individual victory was by No. 20 Matt Stencel (285), who defeated Missouri’s Jake Bohlken, 9-2.

“We can’t take anything away from (Missouri), but we’re better than that,” said head coach Tom Borrelli. “We talked about that in the locker room after the match, not to lose any confidence. We got another shot at them at home."

Chippewas rebound 

CMU had less than 48 hours to brace for a matchup with Buffalo after the Missouri loss. 

After missing six weeks to a right shoulder injury Heffernan made his return to the lineup.

The Cleveland native picked up right where he left off, scoring three of his five takedowns in the third period to knock off Kobe Garrehy 11-4, giving CMU momentum going into the intermission.

“I think there was a little rust,” Heffernan said. "Any time you take as much time as I did away from the mat you got to come back and figure out some things, get back in the swing of things.”

The Chippewas won the last five matches. Sophomore Logan Parks (165) and Brucki each won via major decision, 10-2 and 11-1 respectively, to start the second half of the meet.

Stencel capped off the CMU victory with his 12 pin of the season.

No. 13 ranked Jordan Ellingwood (184) and junior Jordan Atienza (197) also added victories. The senior knocked off Brett Perry 10-1, while Atienza knocked off Joe Ariola 10-4.

“I’m glad to see how our guys responded, especially losing the first two matches and Nolan (Saxton) not quite getting it done (at 149 pounds),” Borrelli said. “The older guys in our lineup, our more mature guys, our veteran guys, were really close to scoring bonus points in all six matches."

The Chippewas do not compete this weekend. Their next competition is at 1 p.m. Feb. 4 against Old Dominion at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Virginia.