MOUNT PLEASANT - The Central Michigan wrestling program will look to claim its 12th consecutive Mid-American Conference Championships title this weekend when it travels to the University at Buffalo for the annual conference tournament.
Competition begins at 10 a.m. Sunday at Buffalo's Alumni Arena, with the championship matches slated to begin at 5:20 p.m. The tournament is a one-day event.
The Chippewas claimed the regular-season title with a perfect 5-0 record in MAC duals and are currently ranked No. 11 in the InterMat Tournament Strength rankings. MAC wrestling affiliate member and preseason favorite to win the championships Missouri is ranked No. 5 by InterMat.
"We have our work cut out for us," head coach Tom Borrelli said. "It's going to be a heck of a scrap this weekend. Those affiliate members [Missouri and Northern Iowa] bring a lot to our conference and will pose a great challenge, as will the rest of the conference."
CMU Seeking 12th Straight MAC Championships Crown: CMU has won 11 consecutive MAC Championships titles and 14 of the last 15 conference tournament crowns. CMU's current streak of 11 straight titles is the longest streak in MAC history.
The Chippewas have won 16 MAC Championships titles overall to lead the conference. Ohio is the only other team since 1998 to win the conference tournament title.
Follow the Action: Updates on the Chippewas' performance at the MAC Championships will be posted throughout the tournament on Facebook.com/CMUWrestling and on Twitter @CMUWrestling.
Bennett Seeks Fourth MAC Title: Senior Ben Bennett can become just the second wrestler in program history to win four MAC titles this weekend. Bennett claimed back-to-back titles at 174 pounds in his freshman and sophomore campaigns before moving up to 184 pounds last season where he became the 10th three-time MAC champ in program history. Bennett enters the tournament ranked No. 2 in the country nationally.
Experience a Factor: After having six wrestlers make their MAC Championships debut last season, the Chippewas lineup will feature just two wrestlers making their debut Sunday. Redshirt freshmen Lucas Smith (157) and Jackson Lewis (197) will be competing at the MAC Championships for the first time.
MAC Announced Pre-Seeds: The Mid-American Conference released its pre-seeds for this weekend's tournament Tuesday with senior Ben Bennett (184) and sophomore Mike Ottinger (165) were each slated as the No. 1 seed in their respective weight class for Sunday's tournament. Wrestlers were seeded 1-8 and CMU's first-round matchups are as followed:
125: No. 2 Christian
Cullinan vs. No. 7 Kevon Powell (Ohio)
133: No. 2 Scotti Sentes vs. No. 7 Justin Farmer (Buffalo)
141: No. 5 Scott Mattingly vs. No. 4 Nick Hucke (Missouri)
149: No. 2 Donnie Corby vs. No. 7 Mike Shaw (Eastern Michigan)
157: No. 5 Lucas Smith vs. No. 4 Spartak Chino (Ohio)
165: No. 1 Mike Ottinger vs. No. 8 Jarrett Jensen (Northern Iowa)
174: No. 5 Craig Kelliher vs. No. 4 John-Martin Cannon (Buffalo)
184: No. 1 Ben Bennett vs. No. 8 Bryan Loughlin (Northern Illinois)
197: No. 8 Jackson Lewis vs. No. 1 Dustin Kilgore (Kent State)
Hwt: No. 2 Jarod Trice vs. No. 7 Justin Heiserman (Buffalo)
*Matchups are subject to change and official brackets will be released prior to the tournament.
MAC Allocated 30 Bids to NCAA Championships: Each of the 10 weight class champions at this weekend's conference tournament will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. The NCAA awarded the conference multiple automatic bids at all but one weight class and at-large bids will be announced next week. Breaking down the MAC's 30 automatic bids by weight class:
125 Pounds: 4
133 Pounds: 3 bids
141 Pounds: 1 bid
149 Pounds: 2 bids
157 Pounds: 3 bids
165 Pounds: 2 bids
174 pounds: 5 bids
184 pounds: 4 bids
197 pounds: 3 bids
Heavyweight: 3 bids
In the Rankings: The Chippewas enter the MAC Championships 11th in InterMat's tournament strength rankings. Seniors Christian Cullinan (No. 10, 125 pounds), Scotti Sentes (No. 8, 133 pounds), Ben Bennett (No. 2, 184 pounds) and Jarod Trice (No. 7, heavyweight) are ranked among the top 20 nationally in their weight class by InterMat.
Last Year at the MAC Championships: CMU claimed its 11th consecutive conference tournament title by claiming all nine of its matches in the final session - five championship matches and four consolation finals - to score 89 team points ahead of Kent State (79 points) and Eastern Michigan (49). Winning individual titles for CMU were Joe Roth (125), Zach Horan (133), Donnie Corby (157), Mike Ottinger (165) and Ben Bennett (184).