Senior wrestler Jordan Atienza prides himself on loyalty to CMU

Senior Jordan Atienza makes a last effort to break a dangerous hold on Nov. 11 at McGuirk Arena.

The Central Michigan wrestling team only has two upperclassman — one senior and one junior. 

The Chippewas graduated three wrestlers last year. The team only had five returning starters going into this season. They expected to return with seven starters, but two top wrestlers — Mason Smith and Justin Oliver— announced their transfer in the offseason. 

After Oliver's departure, Jordan Atienza is the lone senior for the Chippewas. Despite the 0-1 start against the University of Michigan, Atienza believes his leadership can help the Chippewas succeed.

“When things go wrong, there are a lot of eyes on me,” Atienza said. “It will be a good opportunity for me to grow as a person. I can’t always act the way I want to, and I can’t always say what I want to. I have to act and say what might be best for the team.”

Atienza posted a 66-44 record during his time at CMU, dating back to the end of last season. He has qualified for the NCAA Championships last season with an at-large bid. 

He was forced to withdraw from the Mid-American Conference Championships last year due to a shoulder injury, but he knows how successful the team can be. 

"His conditioning is not where he wants it to be," head coach Tom Borrelli said regarding Atienza's injury. "He’s not quite to where he was last year when he got hurt.”

The Livonia, Michigan native is the only senior left standing after 13 wrestlers joined the program alongside him. Atienza prides himself on being loyal to the program.

“Loyalty goes a long way,” he said. “I’m not trying to point fingers at certain individuals, but five years later it’s just me. I hope that these guys can see that I stuck it out.”

Atienza wants the Chippewas to hold him accountable as a leader. 

“I expect the team to demand a lot from me,” he said. “I’m only one person and can only do so much but I expect them to hold me to the highest possible standard, that’s how we all get better.” 

Borelli expects a lot from Atienza. He said the leadership needs to come from setting the right example in practice and at meets. 

“I think the best way he can help out is to listen, and try to be the right type of leader, and lead by example as much as possible,” Borelli said. 

Borelli also recognizes Atienza’s loyalty to the Chippewas and how he wants to change in the program. 

“He’s a fifth-year senior that’s been through a lot, he’s seen a lot of teams that haven’t been as united as we would like our teams to be,” Borelli said. 

Assistant coach Ben Bennett, a former four-time All-American for the Chippewas, sees a lot of potential in Atienza as a leader.

“He’s been through it all," Bennett said. "The sky is the limit for him.”