Wrestling returns to McGuirk Arena with annual intrasquad meet Friday


Sophomore Mason Smith wrestles Kent State's Chance Driscoll in the match against Kent State on Feb. 12, 2016 in McGuirk Arena.

After a 9-3 finish last season, No. 17 ranked Central Michigan wrestling kicks off its 2017-18 season Friday for its annual intrasquad meet.

The meet will feature the return of seven CMU starters from 2016-17 — five of which are ranked in the top 20 of their respective weight classes, according to InterMat, a college wrestling database that ranks athletes in each weight class.

Junior Justin Oliver is ranked No. 6 in the 149-pound weight class. He is the highest ranked Chippewa on InterMat.

Senior Jordan Ellingwood (184) will start the season ranked No. 9. Seniors CJ Brucki (174) and Colin Heffernan (157) are each ranked No. 12 in their respective weight classes.

Sophomore Mason Smith starts the season ranked No. 20 in the 141-pound weight class.

The meet will also display the future of CMU wrestling since three weight classes do not have returning starters.

The battle for the starting role at the 125-pound weight class is open after Brent Fleetwood transferred to North Dakota State in the offseason. Redshirt freshmen Drew Hildebrant and Deven Perez are two possible candidates to replace Fleetwood, who compiled a 22-12 record last season.

Senior Corey Keener (133) transferred to top-ranked Penn State after being granted another year of eligibility due to injury. Redshirt freshmen Dresden Simon and Jonathan Martin are likely candidates to replace the No. 15 ranked wrestler in the 133-pound weight class.

After New Lothrop native Austin Severn graduated last winter, the title of starter at 197 pounds is also available. Redshirt freshman Landon Pelham is the expected replacement to fill Severn’s spot.

Friday’s scrimmage takes place at 7 p.m. at McGuirk Arena.