Returners highlight lineup

The CMU wrestling team comes into the regular season with a lot of proven veterans.

The team returns starting sophomores Scotti Sentes and Jarod Trice, junior Mike Miller and seniors Tony D’Alie, Steve Brown and Tyler Grayson.

Sentes and Miller earned All-America honors last season, and it is not out of the question for Trice, D’Alie, Brown or Grayson to earn it this season, too. D’Alie, Brown and Grayson all moved weight classes during the offseason.

Coupled with other returning wrestlers — sophomore Jeff Shutich, junior Ryan Cubberly and senior Eric Simaz — the team is pretty deep.

But it will be some question-mark weight classes that will most likely determine the team’s success when it heads to some of its big tournaments and in April for the NCAAs.

Luke Smith, who graduated in 2008, and converted 133-pounder Sentes have held down the 125-pound spot quite well the past few seasons. But this season, the starting spot is not so clear. Senior Conor Beebe moved down from 133 this season, but was beat by fellow senior Matt Steintrager in the team’s intrasquad match. Steintrager got the start in Sunday’s match, winning 6-5.

Another weight-class battle will take place between Shutich and Cubberly at 141 pounds. Both missed Sunday’s dual meet for various reasons.

At the 174-pound weight class, besides Miller, is redshirt freshman Ben Bennett. Bennett, ranked No. 16 at the 184 weight class, will most likely compete there unless Miller misses time. That would solidify another weight class, which would otherwise go to freshman Raylen Davis. Bennett won his first collegiate varsity match Sunday in a 5-3 decision.

Simaz and Trice comfortably held their respective starting spots at 197 and 285.

Potential success

Despite a few weight-class holes, the team should be in a good position to finish in the top 15 at NCAAs for the fourth consecutive season.

The team begins its season ranked 13th by InterMat Wrestle. Its schedule this season should help show how it stacks up against the nation’s best.

The team heads to the prestigious Northeast Duals during Thanksgiving Break and competes against No. 9 Nebraska in the Midlands tournament and the National Duals over winter break. By the time classes begin in January, the team will most likely have a clear idea on how it is doing.

Home duals against No. 21 Michigan State and Stanford and road duals against Virginia Tech, Old Dominion and Mid-American Conference opponent Kent State also should be good indicators.

When the MAC Championships come in March to Rose Arena, it will be very interesting to see how many wrestlers will prevail and will be sent to Omaha in April for the NCAA Tournament.