Wrestling carries high expectations as Borrelli enters 25th season as head coach

The Central Michigan wrestling team enters the 2016-17 campaign with something to prove. 

After opening the season at the Eastern Michigan Open sending six wrestlers to the championship, with only one champion in junior Colin Heffernan. 

Despite leaving the meet with one champion, head coach Tom Borrelli said he was impressed with his team and hopes to build on that outcome. 

“We did well,” Borrelli said. “I felt like we wrestled well. It’s a little bit disappointing that we got six guys into the final and only had one champion.We had good competition. We had a really good tournament. To put six guys in the finals is a good accomplishment.”

The Chippewas open their season with a dual meet against Virginia at 1 p.m. on Sunday at McGuirk Arena.  

“I think it will be a real competitive match,” said Borrelli. “We are looking to do well. Any time you wrestle a dual meet against another team, anything can happen.”

The Chippewas enter the season ranked No. 19 in the country. One of CMU's toughest competitions this season will be against Mid-American Conference rival, Missouri. The Tigers have won three consecutive MAC titles and enter the season ranked No. 5 in the nation.

In the offseason, the team had a six-week training cycle. The preseason schedule started the first week after Labor Day.

CMU returns national qualifiers on the 2016-2017 roster. These five includes Heffernan at 157 pounds, sophomore Justin Oliver (149), junior Jordan Ellingwood (184), junior Brent Fleetwood (125) and senior Corey Keener (133).

CMU will be led by All-American Oliver, who is coming off a freshman year where he finished seventh at the NCAA Championships. He recorded a team-high 32 wins last season. Oliver got his opportunity after Colin Heffernan was sidelined by an injury.

Heffernan moved up from 149 to the 165 weight class and placed sixth at the MAC Championships last season.

Borrelli said he expects Oliver, Heffernan and the rest of the team to improve on their success from last season. 

“Those returning national qualifiers should have good years,” said Borreli. “That is who we are expecting to lead our team this season.”

Heading into his 25th year as a head coach, Borrelli said he has set a high standard for the Chippewas heading into the season.

"We started the year ranked 19 in the country, and our plan is to improve on that," he said. "We are excited to see where we are and what we need to improve on."