Smith takes first place at Ken Kraft Midlands Championship

Redshirt sophomore Mason Smith poses for a portrait on Nov. 16 in McGuirk Arena.

On the second day of the two-day Ken Kraft Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill., three Central Michigan wrestlers had a shot at a championship title to end 2017.

Of the two, only sophomore Mason Smith and junior Justin Oliver made it to the championship round. Five student-athletes were knocked out Friday; another three were battling for top-eight placement Saturday afternoon. 

Smith, ranked second in the Mid-American Conference and 19th nationally, took the 141 title for CMU’s only first-place finish of the afternoon. 

The 55th annual Ken Kraft featured many teams ranked nationally on InterMat, including No. 12 Arizona State, No. 14 Illinois, No. 15 South Dakota State, and others. 

The No. 25 Chippewas finished third as a team with 108 points, while No. 7 Iowa took the win. CMU was only 1.5 points behind second-place Rutgers. 

Championship contenders 

Smith, seeded No. 1 in the 141 class, followed an undefeated Friday by beating No. 4 Tyler Smith from Bucknell 5-4. He faced No. 3 Cole Weaver of Indiana in the finals, defeating him 3-0.

Seeded No. 2, Oliver (149) dominated on Friday, then began Saturday with a 6-1 decision over No. 3 Matthew Kolodzik of Princeton. In a matchup of the top two seeds, Oliver faced Brandon Sorenson of Iowa in the championship. 

The two faced in last year’s tournament, with Sorenson winning in overtime. With a 4-2 decision, Oliver once again fell to Sorenson – ranked No. 2 nationally. 

Of the three wrestlers still fighting for a championship finish, No. 4 senior Jordan Ellingwood (184) was the only to fall in the semifinals. No. 1 Nate Jackson dropped him by an 8-3 decision. He began the consolation round with a 14-5 major win, then shut out No. 8 Nino Bonaccorsi 7-0 for third. 

Fighting for placement

After a loss to No. 3 Richie Lewis of Rutgers on Friday, No. 6 redshirt sophomore Logan Parks had a shot at a top-eight finish in the 165, but lost his first consolation match to Iowa’s No. 8 Caleb Young 8-0.

No. 5 senior C.J. Brucki (174) began Saturday the same as Parks, fighting for a top-eight finish after a Friday loss. After a 7-0 win, he fell to No. 7 Dylan Lydy of Purdue.

Brucki secured fifth place by pinning No. 13 Garrett Sutton of Michigan at 5:58. Sutton went into concussion protocol in the first round, but returned within minutes. 

In the heavyweight tournament, No. 7 redshirt Matt Stencel dropped his first match of the tournament, but was able to work his way up the consolation bracket. He beat No. 6 Conan Jennings of host Northwestern with a fall at 1:08.

Stencel fell to No. 4 Youssif Hemida of Maryland at 1:03, finishing fourth for the weekend. 

Next up

The Chippewas will be hosting the Ohio Bobcats on Jan. 7 at 2 p.m.

The Sunday meet will be the first of six consecutive MAC meets; it will also be the first of four home meets in a five-meet stretch.