DES MOINES, Iowa — Four Central Michigan wrestlers earned first-round victories during the first session of the NCAA Championships Thursday afternoon.
Four of the Chippewas’ five seniors – Christian Cullinan, Scotti Sentes, Ben Bennett and Jarod Trice – earned victories to advance to the second round which will begin Thursday evening at 7:30 Eastern Time.
As a team, the Maroon and Gold are currently tied for 16th with five team points. Penn State leads the tournament with 14.5 points.
Cullinan earned the first victory of the day for the Chippewas, breaking a scoreless match versus Joe DeAngelo in the second period with a pair of escapes and a takedown. The wrestlers started the third period neutral and Cullinan was able to take down DeAngelo and build 1:39 riding time for a 7-2 decision.
Tenth-seeded Sentes followed with a dominating 13-2 major decision over Rider’s Jimmy Morris, jumping out to a quick lead in the first period. Sentes earned a takedown and nearly pinned Morris for a three-point nearfall before earning another takedown just before the end of the period for a 7-1 advantage. The two-time All-American had two more takedowns in the match and ended with 1:51 of riding time to advance.
Bennett, seeded No. 2 in the tournament at 184 pounds, began his quest for a fourth All-America honor by defeating Tony Dallago of Illinois by decision, 7-3. Bennett was unable to create any separation from Dallago in the first two periods as the wrestlers entered the final frame tied, 2-2. The Rockford, Mich., native started down and after an escape was able to record a takedown and push his riding time over a minute for the 7-3 final.
Trice, also seeded in the tournament at No. 10 in the heavyweight division, capped the first session and pushed four Chippewas to the second round of the championship bracket with a 2-0 decision over Navy’s Daniel Miller. The match was scoreless through two periods, but Trice was able to ride out Miller for the entirety of the second period and earned an escape just 14 seconds into the third period.
The Chippewas four additional wrestlers in the tournament all suffered losses in their first matches and will look to work their way back through wrestlebacks starting this evening.
Senior Donnie Corby and sophomore Mike Ottinger both lost in overtime matches as Corby fell 3-1 to Dan Osterman in sudden victory and Ottinger dropped a pigtail match to Ryan LeBlanc (Indiana) in the first tiebreaker, 5-3.
Redshirt freshman Lucas Smith and junior Craig Kelliher, both making their first NCAA Tournament appearances, fell to ranked opponents in the first round. Smith dropped a 8-0 major decision to No. 7 Jesse Dong (Va. Tech) and Kelliher fell to third-seeded Michael Evans (Iowa) by a slim decision of 2-0.
Session II will begin this evening with wrestleback pig tail matches, which features Ottinger. The championship second round will then take place followed by the first round of wrestlebacks.
125 pounds – Christian Cullinan
First Round: W, decision Joe DeAngelo (N.C. State), 7-2
Second Round: vs. No. 4 Nicholas Megaludis (Penn State)
133 pounds – No. 10 Scotti Sentes
First Round: W, major decision Jimmy Morris (Rider), 13-2
Second Round: vs. No. 7 Jonathon Morrison (Okla. State)
149 pounds – Donnie Corby
First Round: L, decision Dan Osterman (Michigan State), 3-1 SV
Consolation First Round: vs. Alexander Richardson (Old Dominion)
157 pounds – Lucas Smith
First Round: L, major decision, No. 7 Jesse Dong (Va. Tech), 8-0
Consolation First Round: vs. No. 10 Roger Pena (Oregon State)
165 pounds – Mike Ottinger
Preliminary round: L, decision Ryan LeBlanc (Indiana), TB1 5-3
Consolation preliminary: vs. Austin Wilson (Nebraska)
174 pounds – Craig Kelliher
First Round: L, decision No. 3 Michael Evans (Iowa), 2-0
Consolation First Round: vs. Leroy Munster (Northwestern)
184 pounds – No. 2 Ben Bennett
First Round: W, decision Tony Dallago (Illinois), 7-3
Second Round: vs. Alex Utley (UNC)
First Round: W, decision Daniel Miller (Navy), 2-0
Second Round: vs. No. 7 Connor Medbery (Wisconsin)