Forfeit free: Barring a setback, CMU's only 125-pound wrestler should return Thursday
After forfeiting the 125-pound match in the last five meets, the Central Michigan wrestling team will get back their 125-pounder Thursday.
Sophomore Brent Fleetwood is set to return to the mats against Wisconsin for the first time since he injured his foot at Northern Iowa on Jan. 29. The team went 3-2 in his absence, but lost a crucial match to Kent State by one point, 18-17, on Sunday.
The Chippewas thought they would be getting Fleetwood back against Kent State, but he was only able to practice once last week and Head Coach Tom Borrelli wasn’t convinced he was ready.
“(Fleetwood) just got back on the mat Friday and we really need to see him practice for a full week before we have enough confidence to go with him in a competition,” Borrelli said after the meet Sunday.
Normally, each weight class has at least two wrestlers, in case one is unable to compete. CMU was not as fortunate, as its backup 125-pounder, Carter Ballinger, is disqualified from wrestling at 125 for the rest of the season.
“There’s some NCAA rules as far as, there’s a weight descent plan and you have to be down to your lowest certifiable weight by Feb. 15,” Borrelli said. “He wrestled at the Alma College Open at 133, so the lowest he could descend down to by Feb. 15 is 126.6, so he can’t go down to 125 even though he’s wrestled in every other competition this year at 125.”
Borrelli said he does not agree with the rule.
“(It) should’ve been changed a long time ago,” Borrelli said. “That’s the rule. Not much we can do about it this year.”
After a full week of practice, Fleetwood is at 100 percent and ready to compete for the first time in over two weeks.
“He started last Friday and has practiced all this week,” Borrelli said. “He’s been practicing really well and the plan is to wrestle him on Thursday.”
No. 19 Central Michigan (9-5, 5-2 Mid-American Conference) is taking on the Wisconsin Badgers (3-7, 2-6 Big Ten Conference) in the final meet of the season at McGuirk Arena at 7 p.m.
The Chippewas are 4-2 at home this season. CMU sits in third place in the MAC and looks to improve on its 4-3 nonconference record. The Badgers are 2-3 on the road and 11th place in the Big Ten. While UW has not fared well against conference opponents, it's 1-1 in nonconference meets.
Central Michigan is 1-1 against Big Ten teams this year, dominating Michigan State 33-0 in November and losing to Michigan 18-12 in December.
Borrelli has been preaching takedowns to his team all year and wants them to attack more.
“I hope our guys have enough confidence in themselves after the way we’ve been training this week to go out and execute the things we’re emphasizing,” Borrelli said.