MAC champion Ellingwood improved during season with help of assistant coach, four-time MAC champion

When Jordan Ellingwood stood across the mat from top-seeded 184-pounder Willie Miklus of Missouri on Saturday, he wasn't the same wrestler Miklus pinned in less than three minutes on Jan. 17 at McGuirk Arena.

Instead, Ellingwood beat Miklus with a takedown in the match's final seconds to advance to the finals, where the redshirt sophomore went on to beat two-time defending Mid-American Conference 184-pound champion Jack Dechow of Old Dominion.  

Ellingwood claimed Central Michigan wrestling's 105th individual conference title at the MAC Tournament Sunday at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti. It's the program's 14th MAC title at the 184-pound weight class.

Ellingwood was able to earn it with the help of another 184-pound champion.

Head Coach Tom Borrelli said Assistant Coach Ben Bennett — who graduated from CMU in 2012 with two 184-pound MAC titles and two 174-pound MAC titles — put Ellingwood through an additional workout regiment during the second semester, which gave the Plainfield, Illinois native the stamina and confidence needed to win a championship. 

"Bennett has been having (Ellingwood) come back up in the evenings to do some extra cardio and work," Borrelli said. "He's made the sacrifices and paid the price. The good thing about that is, he never felt like we were punishing him. He always just accepted it and did what we asked him to do."

Ellingwood took third place at the conference tournament a year ago in Columbia, Missouri. He said Bennett was pushing him daily, which served as motivation this season.

"He'd take me and a few other guys to condition at least two or three times a week," Ellingwood said after the tournament. "Just working. It could be treadmill workouts or just wrestling around or shadow wrestling. We grew pretty close this season." 

A two-time Chick Sherwood award winner and four-time NCAA Tournament top-10 finisher, Bennett said he tries to give each wrestler the same amount of coaching, but the starter needs a little more coaching as the tournament approaches.

Bennett said he noticed Ellingwood's problem wasn't the wrestling on the mat, but rather it was his physical stamina holding him back during the first part of the season. 

"He couldn't wrestle as hard as he could," Bennett said. "It was after the (Southern) Scuffle (Jan. 1-2) that I kind of got on him and said we were going to change some things. When I wrestled, I was always doing extra cardio and things to get in even better shape than everyone else."

Bennett said he had a lot of people who helped him accomplish his goals during his career and feels the need to help current CMU wrestlers accomplish their goals because of it. He said Ellingwood never questioned coaches' request for him to put in more cardio, doing everything asked of him.

"I think it's paid off," he said. "Just that little extra to get him over the hump, sometimes you have to do that."

Ellingwood finished the regular season with a 25-12 overall record, 5-3 conference record and two falls. He will next compete in the NCAA Tournament on March 17 in New York City. 


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Central Michigan Life Editor in Chief (Summer 2016)

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