NCAA Championships Central | Watch: Coach Borrelli Interview | Watch: Bennett Interview
ST. LOUIS - Central Michigan's Ben Bennett has put himself in exclusive company.
Bennett claimed a pair of victories in the wrestlebacks Friday night, locking up his third consecutive All-America honor. After placing sixth and eighth the past two years at 174 pounds, the junior can now finish as high as third and as low as sixth in the 184-pound bracket at this year's national tournament.
Bennett joins (1998, 1999, 2000) and Wynn Michalak (2005, 2006, 2008) as the only three-time Division I All-Americans in CMU history.
(NAIA; 1959, 1960, 1961) and Tom Minkel (college and university division, 1970; college division, 1971) also rank as three-time All-Americans in the CMU record books.
"That's some pretty exclusive company," said CMU head coach Tom Borrelli. "Now he has an opportunity next year to be the first four-time All-American in the history of the school. It was important to him to make the podium this year, but I know he's disappointed. He wants to win the national championship, and we will be working toward that next year."
Bennett, the No. 3 seed at 184 pounds, improved to 34-4 overall on the season with his pair of victories during Friday's evening session. He opened the night in the round of 12 against the No. 12 seed, Virginia's Jonathan Fausey. After a scoreless first period, Bennett scored an escape in the opening seconds of the second period for a 1-0 lead. Bennett and Fausey remained neutral for the remainder of the period, and Bennett's lead held up into the third.
Bennett began the final period in the top position and was his usual dominant self, riding Fausey out for a 2-0 win and the guaranteed top-eight finish.
He returned to the mat later in the session to face the No. 7 seed, Nebraska's Josh Ihnen. Just 30 seconds into the opening period, however, Ihnen suffered a knee injury and was not able to continue.
The injury default victory advanced Bennett to the consolation semifinals, where he will face the No. 9 seed, Appalachian State's Austin Trotman, Saturday morning. The Bennett-Trotman winner will face the winner between No. 2 Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) and No. 5 Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) for third place; the losers of the two matches will wrestle for fifth.
Bennett's two victories moved CMU into 23rd place in the team standings with 24 points.
Earlier in Friday's evening session, Zach Horan fell two points shy of becoming just the second true freshman All-American in school history.
After needing to win a wrestle-off just to be part of the Chippewas' lineup at the Mid-American Conference Championships two weeks ago, Horan advanced to the round of 12 at the NCAAs where he met the No. 11 seed, Harvard's Steven Keith. The match was scoreless through one period, and Keith held a slim 1-0 lead after an escape in the second period. Keith started the third period on top and turned Horan for two back points and a 3-0 lead. Horan tried to rally in the final minute, escaping and scoring a quick takedown, but Keith had riding time locked up and claimed a 5-3 decision.
Saturday's placement matches begin at 11 a.m. Eastern Time and can be seen on ESPNU and ESPN3.com.
Complete Central Michigan Results
125 Pounds: Joe Roth
First Round: L, dec. Camden Eppert (Purdue), 4-3
Consolation First Round: W, maj. dec. Jerome Robinson (Old Dominion), 12-3
Consolation Second Round: L, dec. No. 7 Jarrod Patterson (Oklahoma), 6-3
133 Pounds: Zach Horan
First Round: W, dec. No. 12 Bryan Ortenzio (Penn), 5-4
Second Round: L, dec. No. 5 Joe Colon (Northern Iowa), 9-2
Consolation Second Round: W, dec. Mason Beckman (Lehigh), 4-2
Consolation Third Round: W, dec. Matthew Nelson (Virginia), 5-3
Consolation Fourth Round: L, dec. No. 11 Steven Keith (Harvard), 5-3
141 Pounds: Scott Mattingly
First Round: L, dec. Michael Nevinger (Cornell), 5-0
Consolation First Round: W, pin Nathan Hoffer (Arizona State) at 4:21
Consolation Second Round: L, maj. dec. No. 12 Tyler Small (Kent State), 9-1
157 Pounds: Donnie Corby
First Round: L, dec. No. 12 Steven Monk (North Dakota State), 1-0
Consolation First Round: L, dec. Josh Demas (Ohio State), 4-1 TB1
165 Pounds: Mike Ottinger
First Round: L, dec. Coleman Gracey (Army), 3-2
Consolation First Round: L, dec. Gabriel Burak (Northern Colorado), 9-2
184 Pounds: No. 3 Ben Bennett - All-American
First Round: W, maj. dec. Erich Schmidtke (Oklahoma), 9-1
Second Round: W, maj. dec. Victor Avery (Edinboro), 9-0
Quarterfinals: L, pin No. 6 Quentin Wright (Penn State) at 2:35
Consolation Fourth Round: W, dec. No. 12 Jonathan Fausey (Virginia), 2-0
Consolation Quarterfinals: W, injury default No. 7 Josh Ihnen (Nebraska)
Consolation Semifinals: No. 9 Austin Trotman (Appalachian State)
285 Pounds: Peter Sturgeon
First Round: W, dec. Kyle Frey (Drexel), 5-4 TB1
Second Round: L, dec. No. 2 Anthony Nelson (Minnesota), 6-0
Consolation Second Round: L, maj. dec. No. 12 Matthew Gibson (Iowa State), 8-0