Stencel finds historic success in first season

Oregon, Ohio redshirt freshman Matt Stencel wrestles Buffalo's redshirt junior Jake Gunning during the match against Buffalo on Jan. 21 in McGuirk Arena.

Last season, freshman Matt Stencel redshirted behind heavyweight Newton Smerchek, who qualified for the NCAA Tournament. 

Stencel has since taken Smerchek's spot in the lineup and entered the record books. 

The Oregon, Ohio native currently holds a 25-13 record, with 13 pinfall victories. Those pins are tied for 10th-most in a single season in CMU history.

Stencel is tied with NCAA runner-up Wynn Michalek, who registered 13 pins during his freshman season in 2007-08, and Kevin Vogel in 1987-88.

One more pin would tie Stencel for ninth-most with Greg Mayer, who earned 14 pins during the 1996-97 season. 

However, the single-season pin record may be out of reach. Vogel earned 28 pins in 1989-90.

Stencel’s debut season will come across as surprising to some, except for Stencel himself.

“I don’t notice (the success) because that’s how I’ve been my whole (wrestling) career,” Stencel said. "I go out and wrestle for a pin.”

During his senior season at Clay High School in Oregon, he pinned his opponent in 39 consecutive matches on the road to his second-straight State Championship. He had 184 wins in high school, and only 18 losses.

Head coach Tom Borrelli is not surprised with Stencel’s success.

“We’ve always thought that Matt had a lot of potential,” Borrelli said. “He’s been inconsistent, been up and down a little bit. We’d like for him to be consistent, but I’m not surprised (with Stencel’s season).”

Stencel credits the coaching staff and his training partners to why he is progressing so quickly.

“(It helps) having faith in my coaches and my training partners," Stencel said. "I trust them to get me ready for matches."

Stencel aims to finish the season as MAC championship, but only has one obstacle in his way.

“I’m the only person that can stop myself in the MAC’s,” Stencel said. “I really think if I go out, have my confidence and just wrestle and think about wrestling my match then I shouldn’t have a problem.”

Borrelli believes the redshirt freshman is very capable of winning the MAC Tournament.

“If he wrestles consistent, solid, fundamental wrestling he’ll be fine,” Borrelli said. “He’ll do well.”