Tom Borrelli has built a wrestling dynasty in his 22 seasons as the head coach at Central Michigan.
His tenure has seen the Chippewas claim 13 Mid-American Conference titles and 14 MAC Championships crowns, including 11 straight from 2002-12. CMU has boasted multiple All-Americans nine of the past 10 seasons and a total of 12 times under Borrelli’s watch. His 38 total All-Americans rank eighth among active NCAA Division I head coaches.
The Chippewas’ dominance of the MAC under Borrelli has been nothing short of remarkable. CMU has won 75 of its last 79 conference outings. Overall, the Chippewas are 95-15 in MAC duals under Borrelli.
Borrelli became the school’s all-time wins leader while leading the Chippewas to their 10th consecutive conference crown in 2008. A 19-16 victory over No. 11 Ohio State at National Duals was Borrelli’s 196th career victory, passing Chick Sherwood’s mark of 195 wins from 1965-89. Borrelli’s mark as the Chippewas’ mentor currently stands at 260-109-7 overall.
Borrelli later earned his 300th career victory (22 years at CMU, 5 at Lake Superior State University) in a 49-0 win over Sacred Heart on Dec. 17, 2011.
A well-respected coach on the national level, Borrelli was honored by his peers when he was presented with the National Wrestling Coaches Association Bob Bubb Coaching Excellence Award at the 2004 NCAA Championships. The annual award is given to one coach in each division in recognition of his contribution to the sport.
Borrelli was honored as National Coach of the Year by two organizations in 1998. The NWCA tabbed Borrelli at its annual convention in Colorado Springs and Wrestling International Newsmagazine (W.I.N.) honored Borrelli and Minnesota’s J Robinson with the Dan Gable Coach of the Year award. He has been named MAC Coach of the Year a conference-record 12 times in his career (1992, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012), while no other MAC wrestling head coach has won the award more than five times.
CMU won MAC championships in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013 and the MAC Championships title in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
CMU has won at least 10 duals in 18 of Borrelli’s 22 seasons.
Borrelli has coached one national champion, 38 All-Americans, eight MAC Wrestler of the Year honorees, 80 MAC champions, 132 national qualifiers, eight NWCA All-Academic first team selections, 40 Academic All-MAC first team selections and ten MAC Freshman of the Year selections.
Just as important as the Chippewas’ performance on the mat is their achievement in the classroom. CMU wrestling has finished in the top 16 nationally in team GPA in 15 of the past 17 seasons. The Chippewas peaked with a third-place ranking in 1994 and 2003.
Wynn Michalak (2008) and Mark DiSalvo (2006) were recipients of NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships and both earned CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors following their senior seasons.
A CAREER OF DISTINCTION
In 2013, Borrelli saw two of his seniors finish their careers in the maroon and gold with All-American performances. Ben Bennett (184) became the first four-time All-American in program history with a fourth place finished at the NCAA Championships while Jarod Trice picked up his third All-America honor with a sixth place finish in the heavyweight division.
Central Michigan won the 2013 MAC regular season title, posting a 5-0 record in conference duals. Borrelli coached two MAC Champions during the 2013 campaign en route to a second place team finish. Five Central Michigan wrestlers earned automatic bids to the NCAA postseason following their performances at the MAC Championships in addition to three at-large bids.
Seven Chippewas earned automatic bids to the 2012 NCAA Championships after a dominant performance at the MAC Championships. CMU collected five individual titles and four third-place finishes to win the championship with 89 points. Ben Bennett (184 pounds) claimed his third straight All-America honor, finishing sixth at 184 pounds, while sophomore Joe Roth (125 pounds) was named the MAC Championships' Most Outstanding Wrestler. The Chippewas' performance netted Borrelli his record 12th MAC Coach of the Year honor, while Bennett was named MAC Wrestler of the Year.
In 2011, Borrelli molded a young and inexperienced team into a championship contender. The Chippewas shared the MAC regular season title with Kent State and Ohio, marking CMU's 12th conference title in 13 seasons. CMU continued its dominance at the conference tournament, scoring 79 points to claim its 10th consecutive MAC Championships title. Scotti Sentes (133), Ben Bennett (174) and Jarod Trice (285) each won individual titles and earned automatic bids to the NCAA Championships.
Sentes, Bennett and Trice each earned All-America honors as CMU finished in a tie for 13th at the NCAA Championships, its fifth straight top-15 finish and seventh in the last eight seasons.
The 2010 season marked another milestone for the program, as CMU became the first program in MAC history to qualify all 10 individuals to the NCAA Championships. Steve Brown (157), Bennett (174) and Trice (285) all earned All-America honors as CMU tied for 12th in the team standings. The Chippewas won the MAC regular season and tournament titles and matched a school record for dual victories, finishing with a 17-2 mark including 5-0 in the MAC.
Borrelli, who in 2006 became the first Olympic sport head coach at CMU to sign a multi-year contract, agreed to a new five-year pact prior to the 2010 MAC Championships.
Considered by many to be in a rebuilding mode for the 2008-09 campaign, CMU simply tied a school record for dual meet wins (17), claimed its eighth consecutive conference tournament championship, won the Virginia Duals team title and advanced eight individuals to the NCAA Championships, two of whom earned All-America honors. CMU tallied 111.5 team points at the MAC Championships, the fourth-highest total in conference tournament history, and 35 points at the NCAA Championships, the sixth-most in school history.
Sophomore Mike Miller, seeded seventh at the NCAA Championships, finished as the national runner-up at 174 pounds. He was CMU’s second national finalist in as many years.
CMU climbed to No. 2 in the national polls during the final week of the 2007-08 season, its highest ranking in program history. The Chippewas won 16 duals, tied for the second-most in a season in school history, and defended their team title at the Reno Tournament of Champions. CMU posted its fifth straight unbeaten MAC dual season, then won seven individual titles, the second most during Borrelli’s tenure, in securing their seventh straight conference tournament crown.
CMU capped its historic season by finishing in a tie for seventh at the 2008 NCAA Championships, scoring a school-record 69 team points. Four Chippewas earned All-America honors, including 197-pound national runner-up Wynn Michalak.
In 2007, CMU established a new school record with 17 dual wins. Six Chippewas won titles at the MAC Championships and eight earned bids to the NCAA Championships. Three of those eight national qualifiers went on to earn All-America honors.
That performance came on the heels of a 2006 season in which, despite fielding a lineup with five new starters, CMU defended its MAC regular season and tournament titles, posted program-best finishes of second at Midlands and fourth at National Duals, rose to fourth in the NWCA/InterMat top 25 poll and boasted a pair of All-Americans.
Before coming to CMU, Borrelli was the head coach at Lake Superior State University for five seasons. He compiled a 46-25-1 record and led his team to five top 20 finishes from 1986-91. The Lakers won the NCAA Division II Mideast Regional in 1987 and 1991. LSSU won the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) championship in 1991, and Borrelli was named GLIAC Coach of the Year. His first head coaching tenure produced 17 All-Americans, 26 Division II national tournament qualifiers and two Division II national finalists.
Borrelli was an assistant at Clemson University for two years from 1984-86. He earned a master’s degree in education administration and supervision from Clemson in 1987.
Borrelli was a standout wrestler at The Citadel. A four-year letterman from 1975-79, he finished his college career with a 58-27-2 record and twice was named the Bulldogs’ Most Outstanding Wrestler. He graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education.
He and his wife, Lorri, reside in Mount Pleasant. They have two sons, Bob and Jason, both of whom wrestled at CMU. Jason recently completed his fourth season as the head wrestling coach at Stanford University.