MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Central Michigan wrestling coach Tom Borrelli often expresses the importance of winning the state of Michigan when evaluating his team’s success.
The No. 23-ranked Chippewas accomplished two-thirds of that goal Friday evening, defeating Eastern Michigan, 22-12, in a Mid-American Conference dual at McGuirk Arena.
CMU improves to 7-4 overall with the win with a 4-1 mark in the league. Eastern slips to 7-7, 2-5.
“I’m pretty happy overall, the matches weren’t exactly the way we wanted them,” Borrelli said. “We’d like to separate ourselves a little more from our competition and expand on some scores.”
CMU split its in-state Big Ten rivalries, defeating Michigan State 33-0 on Dec. 6, and falling to No .8 Michigan, 22-12, a week ago.
“I really think coach Bolyard is doing a nice job with his team,” Borrelli in reference to EMU’s David Bolyard, a former All-American at CMU. “They were real competitive today, we got some close calls that kind of determined a couple matches and we were fortunate that those went our way.”
The Chippewas were able to hold off the Eagles despite forfeiting the 125-pound weight class, with sophomore Brent Fleetwood nursing an injury.
“If we we’re playing basketball and we only had for guys on the court and they had five it would be pretty hard for us to win,” Borrelli said. “Today we won a dual meet with nine guys and they had 10, you have to feel good about that.”
The match started at 184 pounds where CMU sophomore Jordan Ellingwood posted a 10-2 major decision.
“I said to our guys before the duel meet started that the first three matches would be real important,” Borrelli said. “We felt like we needed a good start from Jordan and he did that for us getting the major.”
Senior Jackson Lewis (197) suffered a tough 5-3 sudden-victory loss to Anthony Abro, the lone wrestler in Eastern’s lineup who is ranked nationally (18th).
“Jackson has been knocking at the door for about two, three years now,” said Borrelli. “ He’s right there, he just hasn’t broken through yet, a little bit of it is technique, a little is has to do with composure, but I think more of it is just him believing in himself that he can win those matches.”
The Chippewas found themselves down 12-4 after Newton Smerchek fell, 3-1 at heavyweight and the Eagles claimed the forfeit victory at 125.
The Chippewas won the remaining six matches to pull off the win. Corey Keener (133), No.14 Zach Horan (141), No.19 Justin Oliver, No.14 Luke Smith (157), Jordan Atienza (165) and No.10 Mike Ottinger (174) all claimed decisions.
Smith, a senior, won his match over Devan Marry, 8-3, and improved to 24-5 on the season.
“Coach has been pushing me to be offensive and open up a little more,” Smith said. “I tried to do that, I didn’t score on every attack that I would’ve liked to, but I think I opened up a little more than usual which is a good change of pace for me.”
The Chippewas are back in action on Sunday at 2 p.m. as they host Buffalo (8-7, 1-4) in a MAC dual in McGuirk.
Central Michigan 22, Eastern Michigan 12
125 pounds: Armando Torres (EMU) won by forfeit
133: Corey Keener (CMU) dec. Shayne Wireman, 3-1
141: Zach Horan (CMU) dec. Kyle Springer, 4-3
149: Justin Oliver (CMU) dec. Nicholas Barber, 4-1
157: Luke Smith (CMU) dec. Davan Marry, 8-3
165: Jordan Atienza (CMU) dec. Dakota Juarez, 8-6
174: Mike Ottinger (CMU) dec. Jacob Davis, 3-2
184: Jordan Ellingwood (CMU) major dec. Derek Hillman, 10-2
197: Anthony Abro (EMU) dec. Jackson Lewis, 5-3 SV
HWT: Gage Hutchinson (EMU) dec. Newton Smerchek, 3-1