Eight wrestlers make semifinals at MSU open

Redshirt freshman Dresden Simon, back, wrestles redshirt freshman Deven Perez in the Maroon vs. Gold Intrasquad Dual on Oct. 27 in McGuirk Arena.

Kicking off a new season, Central Michigan wrestling had four Chippewas in the finals of the Michigan State Open Sunday night in East Lansing. 

Head coach Tom Borrelli said he was highly satisfied with the way his team competed in the season opener. 

“We had some things we could work on,” Borrelli said, “But for the most part, there’s a lot to be happy about. We had a lot of guys in the finals, working as hard as they could.”

In the ten weight classes, eight semifinals featured Chippewas. 

The lone first place of the night came from No. 6 ranked junior Justin Oliver (149), who took down Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin in a close 4-3 decision. 

Senior Colin Heffernan (157) lasted until the finals, when he lost to Arizona State’s Josh Shields 5-4 by tie breaker.

“Both Justin and Heffernan had great matches,” Borrelli said. “Oliver was in a really tough bracket and came out in a close one. Colin’s could have gone either way. I’m happy with how they both performed.”

Also making it to the finals was No. 8 senior Jordan Ellingwood (184), losing to No. 5 Domenic Abounader from Michigan, 7-4.

This was freshman Dresden Simon’s (133) first meet wrestling in the open division, yet he made it to the finals before going down 5-3 to Purdue’s Ben Thompson. Borrelli said he was glad to see him finding success so early in his career. 

Junior Jordan Atienza also broke new personal ground this afternoon by competing in the 197 class. Two years ago, he was wrestling 174 and before that, 165. He still found his way into the semifinals, falling to Michigan’s Kevin Beasley 12-8.

“It’s not easy jumping so many weight classes in just a few years,” Borrelli said. “He ended up fourth, losing to a returning All-American. As far as I’m concerned, Jordan did great.” Beasley ended the night pinning Wisconsin’s Hunter Ritter in 1:43. 

Maybe the biggest upset for CMU was senior C.J. Brucki’s (174) loss. Ranked 13, he fell to MSU’s Drew Hughes in the semifinals in a narrow 1-0 decision. 

“(Brucki) had a few things that he could have done better tonight,” Borrelli said. “We’re able to fix it. He’s a good wrestler, so I’m not worried. 

The others to fall in the semifinals were Mason Smith (141) and Newton Smerchek (HWT).

Smerchek lost big against Northwestern’s Conan Jennings in a 10-0 major decision. 

Smith, who took first in the MAC last season, lost 6-3 to Oklahoma’s Michael Longo, who ended the night in second place. The round before, Smith dominated Ohio State’s Brendan Fitzgerald with a 18-2 technical fall. Fitzgerald had won the previous two rounds with pins, both in under 40 seconds. 

The team’s next meet will be at 9 a.m. Nov. 11 at Eastern Michigan.