Underclassmen providing spark for wrestling team

The major hurdle for Central Michigan wrestling is overcoming inexperience, as it emerges as one of the youngest teams in head coach Tom Borrelli’s 21-year tenure.

So far, inexperience has not been a hinderdance as the team has stormed out of the gates to a 5-1 record.

Of those five victories, three came against ranked opponents, including two on Saturday at the Northeast Duals. The Chippewas beat No. 14 American 21-20, and No. 16 Rutgers 16-15.

The close victories may be a serious confidence booster moving forward, especially for the young guys that have performed well so far.

“I’m excited with the potential of our team,” Borrelli said. “I know we are young and have a lot of improvements to make, but I am definitely excited.”

The upperclassmen have played a vital role in the younger guys’ development, despite only having three seniors with the program.

“Our guys that have been to the nationals or were starters last year,” Borrelli said. “I think they have done a lot with trying to help those guys (underclassmen).”

For team members, they certainly are not using youth as an excuse to avoid high expectations.

“We know we have a young team, but we don’t let that get in the way of anything,” said sophomore Joe Roth.

Mike Ottinger is a freshman that has gotten off to a hot start to begin his collegiate career.

“I think it’s a great start for me coming in as a freshman,” Ottinger said. “It’s really good for our team to beat some ranked teams early on, but I think we still have some work to do to reach our goals.”

He agreed the upperclassmen have played a major role in his development.

“The older guys are a huge help, especially helping me stay relaxed before matches,” Ottinger said.

After going 2-1 in his matches on Saturday, Ottinger is now 4-1 in dual meets and 8-2 overall this season.