Chippewa Challenge serves as wrestling homecoming

The Central Michigan wrestling team poses for a picture with the trophy for the Chippewa Challenge, Jan. 16 in McGuirk Arena.

Three former Chippewa wrestlers made their return to McGuirk Arena Jan. 16 to take on their former coach, Tom Borelli, and his wrestling squad. 

 “It was nice to have everyone back,” said head coach Tom Borrelli. “It was almost like a homecoming for wrestling. It was fun to see how everyone was doing with their team and programs.”

Not only were records on the line for the four teams competing, but a little bit of pride was on the line as well. CMU’s head coach Borrelli came up with the idea for the winning coach to buy the rest of the coaches’ dinner. Borrelli’s boys were victorious, going 3-0 and giving him the bill at Mountain Town Restaurant.

“I wanted to get everyone together and talk before everyone left. Usually with a situation like this, there is some good nature and banter that goes on,” Borrelli said.

For the first time, Borrelli faced off against Luke Smith of CSU Bakersfield as a head coach and Scotti Sentes as a head coach for Campbell. The third opponent, American, was coached by Borelli's son Jason. It wasn't the first meeting between father and son, but it was special nonetheless. 

“We’ve seen (Smith and Sentes) in tournaments, but never in a dual meet like this” Borrelli said, “So that was fun to actually go one on one with them.” 

The Chippewas dominated the day. After beginning the day with dominant wins over Smith and Jason's squads, Borelli and company squared off with Sentes' No. 25 ranked Campbell team. It was a back and forth affair, with CMU ultimately winning the meet 19-15 to finish an undefeated 3-0.

Borelli said he was excited to see his former athletes and was proud of their performance as coaches. 

“I feel a lot of pride. I think in some way, I had a little bit of influence of them being in the situation they are in and it’s nice to see them being successful,” he said, “And even outside of wrestling Jason, Scotti, and Luke sometimes reach out to me for advice, not only coaching wise but leadership wise, personal situations.” 

The first time facing off against each other was fun and lighthearted. Of course, each team wanted to win, but it was about getting everyone together and having a good time while also getting things done on the mat. Borrelli looks forward to matchups like this in the future.

“I think in the future if we can keep this going, it’s going to be really completive as the programs grow” Borrelli said

Jason Borelli
Head coach of American 

(left to right) CMU Chippewas assistant coaches Colin Heffernan and Ben Bennett, American Eagles head coach Jason Borrelli, CMU Chippewas head coach Tom Borrelli, University of California-Bakersfield Roadrunners head coach Luke Smith, and Campbell Camels head coach Scotti Sentes and assistant head coach Wynn Michalak pose for a picture after the Chippewa Challenge, Jan. 16 in McGuirk Arena. The challenge featured wrestlers from American, UC Bakersfield, and Campbell going up against CMU in a reunion of coach Tom Borrelli with some of his former wrestlers who are now coaches themselves.

The son of Tom Borelli, Jason was once an assistant coach for the Chippewas wrestling squad. While coaching here at CMU, he was a part of the Mid-American Championship in the 2007 season. Aside from his work off the mat, Jason made a name for himself as wrestler at CMU. He was a four-year starter, was part of the MAC championship team five times, and qualified for the NCAA Championships twice (2005 and 2006). His final year of CMU, he captained the CMU wrestling team. 

Luke Smith
Head coach of CSU Bakersfield

UC Bakersfield wrestling coach Luke Smith watches the 125 lb match between Eddie Flores and Brock Bergelin, Jan. 16 in McGuirk Arena.

During his time here at CMU, Luke received the nickname “Lightning” Luke Smith due to the fact he recorded the two fastest pins in Central Michigan history, one at 11 seconds and the other one at 13 seconds. During his senior year at CMU, he led the Chippewas to a No. 2 national ranking and was a four-time NCAA qualifier while being ranked fourth in the country at 125 pounds. 

Scotti Sentes
Head coach of Campbell

Campbell university wrestling coaches Scotti Sentes and Wynn Michalak watch during a match against CMU, Jan. 16 in McGuirk Arena.

Scotti won MAC titles in 2009 and 2011 during his wrestling career here at CMU. He was 17-1 in MAC competition, a two time All American and four-time NCAA qualifier during his time with the Chippewas. Sentes competed at the NCAA finals his freshman year, coming in seventh and his junior year coming in fourth.