Photos | Coach Borrelli Interview
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ATHENS, Ohio - This was supposed to be the year the streak ended.
Central Michigan's wrestling program entered Sunday's Mid-American Conference Championships riding a 10-year winning streak at the conference tournament, but with a lineup that included three true freshmen and six individuals appearing at their first MAC tournament, an 11th straight title seemed unlikely.
A dominant final session at Ohio's Convocation Center, however, broke open a tight team race and CMU continued its stranglehold on the conference tournament. Five Chippewas were crowned individual champions and CMU posted 89 team points to claim the team title over runner-up Kent State (79 points) and third-place Eastern Michigan (49).
The Chippewas were at their best when it mattered most, winning all nine of their matches during the final session of competition—five championship matches and four consolation finals—to extend what had been a two-point lead entering the session.
Winning individual titles for CMU were sophomore Joe Roth (125 pounds), true freshman Zach Horan (133), junior Donnie Corby (157), true freshman Mike Ottinger (165) and junior Ben Bennett (184).
Roth was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler. He is the seventh different Chippewa to win the award and first since in 2006.
In addition to the five champions, two other Chippewas earned automatic bids to the NCAA Championships: sophomore Scott Mattingly (141) and senior Peter Sturgeon (heavyweight).
"I'm really, really proud of our team," said CMU head coach Tom Borrelli. "They battled all year. They were young, and they got knocked around a lot earlier in the year, but they never gave up and kept fighting. Tonight we had nine guys wrestling either for the championship or in the medal round, and all nine of them won. That was a pretty special round for us.
"This championship is really special," Borrelli added. "We fought through a lot this year."
After falling behind 3-0 to Kent State's Nic Bedelyon in the 125-pound final, Roth rallied for his first MAC title by scoring five points in a wild second period and hitting a four-point move in the third. Roth scored a pair of takedowns during the second period and still trailed 5-4 entering the final period. He quickly escaped to tie the score, then hit an explosive double-leg that took Bedelyon directly to his back with less than a minute left. Two nearfall points gave Roth a 9-5 lead and the title.
Horan was dominant from start to finish in a 5-0 decision in the finals at 133 pounds. He took down Northern Illinois' Robert Jillard early in the first period, rode Jillard out in the second and scored a second takedown after a neutral start in the third period. Horan rode Jillard for 4:23 in the bout to earn the additional riding time point.
Corby made it 3-for-3 for CMU in the finals with a 4-1 decision over Eastern Michigan's Aaron Sulzer at 157 pounds. The bout was scoreless through the first period, but Corby scored three points after starting the second period in the bottom position. He escaped, held a leg and picked Sulzer's ankle for the bout's only takedown. A 2:40 riding time advantage provided the final margin.
Ottinger kept the Chippewas unbeaten in the finals by grinding out an overtime decision over Buffalo's Mark Lewandowski in the 165-pound final. Both Ottinger and Lewandowski scored an escape in regulation, the first tiebreaker and the second tiebreaker. The match was nearly over in the first sudden victory period, but neither wrestler could gain advantage during a scramble in the final 10 seconds. Ottinger eventually earned the decision by virtue of a 7-second riding time advantage in the tiebreakers.
Bennett was seconds from a shutout and major decision in his third consecutive MAC championship match. He scored a takedown in each period and built a riding time edge of 4:40 but surrendered an escape in the final seconds and finished with an 8-1 victory over Northern Illinois' Brad Dieckhaus.
With the win, Bennett became just the 10th three-time MAC champion in CMU history.
Four other Chippewas finished in third place: Mattingly, Joey Kielbasa (149), Craig Kelliher (197) and Sturgeon.
CMU's seven national qualifiers now prepare for the NCAA Championships, set for March 15-17 in St. Louis.
Central Michigan Complete Results
Top 4 seeded per weight class.
125 Pounds: No. 2 Joe Roth - MAC Champion
First Round: W, dec. Max Soria (Buffalo), 9-3
Semifinals: W, maj. dec. No. 3 Nick Smith (Northern Illinois), 15-7
Finals: W, dec. No. 1 Nic Bedelyon (Kent State), 9-6
133 Pounds: Zach Horan - MAC Champion
First Round: W, pin No. 4 Justin Farmer (Buffalo) at 2:05
Semifinals: W, dec. No. 1 Andrew Novak (Eastern Michigan), 2-1 TB1
Finals: W, dec. Robert Jillard (Northern Illinois), 5-0
141 Pounds: Scott Mattingly - Third Place
First Round: L, dec. No. 4 Darrin Boing (Ohio), 8-4
Consolation Semifinals: W, dec. No. 2 Kevin Smith (Buffalo), 9-2
Consolation Finals: W, maj. dec. Corey Phillips (Eastern Michigan), 16-4
True Second: L, No. 3 Kevin Fanta (Northern Illinois), medical forfeit
149 Pounds: No. 4 Joey Kielbasa - Third Place
First Round: Bye
Semifinals: L, dec. No. 1 Ian Miller (Kent State), 12-8
Consolation Semifinals: W, dec. Shawn Fayette (Northern Illinois), 5-2
Consolation Finals: W, dec. No. 3 Andrew Romanchik (Ohio), 5-3
True Second: L, dec. No. 2 Blake Roulo (Buffalo), 3-1 SV2
157 Pounds: No. 1 Donnie Corby - MAC Champion
First Round: W, maj. dec. Wally Maziarz (Buffalo), 9-1
Semifinals: W, dec. No. 4 Harrison Hightower (Ohio), 3-2
Finals: W, dec. No. 2 Aaron Sulzer (Eastern Michigan), 4-1
165 Pounds: No. 1 Mike Ottinger - MAC Champion
First Round: W, dec. Miles Chapman (Ohio), 8-6
Semifinals: W, dec. No. 4 Lester France (Eastern Michigan), 8-3
Finals: W, dec. No. 2 Mark Lewandowski (Buffalo), 3-3 RT TB2
174 Pounds: Anthony Bill
First Round: W, dec. No. 4 Brandonn Johnson (Kent State), 4-0
Semifinals: L, dec. No. 1 Nick Purdue (Ohio), 9-2
Consolation Semifinals: L, dec. Caleb Busson (Northern Illinois), 3-2
184 Pounds: No. 1 Ben Bennett - MAC Champion
First Round: Bye
Semifinals: W, pin No. 4 Ryan Garringer (Ohio) at 1:45
Finals: W, dec. No. 2 Brad Dieckhaus (Northern Illinois), 8-1
197 Pounds: Craig Kelliher - Third Place
First Round: W, dec. No. 3 Mike Lukowski (Northern Illinois), 5-2
Semifinals: L, dec. No. 2 Nick Whitenburg (Eastern Michigan), 5-2
Consolation Semifinals: W, maj. dec. Kyle Sanders (Ohio), 9-0
Consolation Finals: W, dec. No. 3 Mike Lukowski (Northern Illinois), 1-0
285 Pounds: No. 3 Peter Sturgeon - Third Place
First Round: W, dec. Jared Torrence (Northern Illinois), 3-1 SV1
Semifinals: L, dec. No. 2 Brendan Barlow (Kent State), 3-1 SV2
Consolation Semifinals: W, dec. Jedd Mason (Buffalo), 4-2
Consolation Finals: W, dec. No. 4 Wes Schroeder (Eastern Michigan), 5-4