Wrestling looks to build on momentum heading into Kent State tri-meet

Pennsylvania senior Zach Horan attempts to take down Missouri opponent on Jan. 17 at McGuirk Arena. Alex Steele | Staff Photographer

Central Michigan wrestling is 2-0 in February, after winning just two of its six dual meets in January.

The 20th-ranked Chippewas are coming off a weekend sweep at McGuirk Arena, where they defeated Mid-American Conference foes Eastern Michigan and Buffalo.

“It’s nice to win, especially when you have to forfeit a weight class,” said Head Coach Tom Borrelli said. “We’re just trying to get ready for the end of the year tournaments.”

The Chippewas (8-4, 5-1 MAC) are in third place in the conference behind Missouri (12-1, 8-0 MAC) and Kent State (13-3, 6-1 MAC).

After grinding through the toughest stretch of their schedule — which resulted in losses to No. 4 Missouri, No. 8 Michigan and No. 17 Iowa State — the Chippewas are looking to learn from experience and use it as the regular season comes to an end.

"I think that was a good stretch for us to find out a lot about ourselves to beat really good teams or really good individuals," Borrelli said. "We still have some challenges ahead of us and are trying to get better."

CMU heads to Kent State for a tri-meet against the Golden Flashes and Edinboro, which counts as a conference meet between CMU and KSU.

Borrelli has said all season he's wanted his team to attack more and generate more takedowns. He said Wednesday he believes they are starting to do that.

“I think we did (attack more) against Buffalo,” Borrelli said. “I wasn’t as happy against Eastern Michigan, but sometimes it has more to do with the individual competition you face. We would like to be able to do that against anybody.”

The Golden Flashes are on a six-match winning streak and have a half-game lead over the Chippewas in the MAC.

“They have a real seasoned team. I think they have six seniors," Borrelli said. “I know those guys would really like to beat us in their final season and they’ve been wrestling well.”

The Fighting Scots of Edinboro, who were routed by Virginia Tech 29-7 on Feb. 7, are 8-7 this season and 6-0 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. They are also members of the Eastern Wrestling League.

“Last year they finished third at the NCAA Championships,” Borrelli said. “They just got back a bunch of their top guys so I think they’ll be a tough dual meet team as well.”

The meet was originally scheduled to be a quad, but KSU was unable to get a fourth team to join.

CMU will likely be without sophomore Brent Fleetwood (125-pound weight class), who has been dealing with a foot injury suffered Jan. 29 at Northern Iowa. He sat out the last two dual meets, forcing the Chippewas to forfeit at the 125-pound class.

"I know he's gonna be cleared to hit the mat on Friday," Borrelli said. "So we will see how he's doing Friday and make a decision."

When asked if he thought his teammate would wrestle Sunday, senior Mike Ottinger replied, "I don't think so."

Borrelli said freshman 125-pounder Carter Ballinger is unable to wrestle in the 125-pound class because he wrestled at 133 pounds after the NCAA mandated cut off date. The Chippewas are without a 125-pound wrestler to fill Fleetwood's spot. 

The tri-meet will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center.