AMHERST, N.Y. — Senior Ben Bennett became just the second four-time Mid-American Conference champion in Central Michigan history and sophomore Mike Ottinger began a quest at the same feat with his second-straight MAC title Sunday at the 2013 MAC Championships at the University at Buffalo.
Bennett and Ottinger led a group of five Chippewas to earn automatic bids to the 2013 NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa March 23-25 as the Maroon and Gold finished second in the team standings with 88 points.
First-year conference affiliate Missouri won the team championship with 136 points, ending the Chippewas' 11-year reign at the top of the conference.
Ottinger became the first champion of the day for the Chippewas, defeating No. 3 seed Mark Lewandowski in the finals by 8-5 decision. The No. 1 seed and defending champ at 165 fell behind on a takedown by Lewandowski in the first period, but quickly earned a reversal to tie the match.
Lewandowski was able to grab a 3-2 lead after the first period with an escape, but Ottinger chose down to start the second and evened things up with an escape of his own. A takedown with one minute remaining in the second gave Ottinger an advantage heading into the third, 5-4. The sophomore held the key riding time point when Lewandowski evened the match with a third-period escape, but quickly thwarted any chance of a comeback by the Buffalo wrestler with a late takedown to secure his second-straight title.
Bennett quickly followed with his fourth MAC title - second at 184 pounds - by defeating No. 2 seed Ryan Loder of Northern Iowa, 5-3. The two nationally ranked wrestlers were even following the first period, but Bennett quickly took a 2-0 lead in the second after choosing down and earning a reversal. Bennett continued to ride out Loder to grab riding time advantage and after an escape by Loder was able to earn another takedown to secure the win.
The victory improved Bennett's record to 26-0 on the season and moved him into sixth-place all time in CMU history with 116 career victories.
Sentes bounced back after falling in the semifinal by earning a 5-0 decision over Mackenzie McGuire of Kent State and an 11-8 decision over Nick Smith of Northern Illinois in the third-place match.
Smith entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed and claimed one of the three automatic qualifier bids by finishing third at 157 pounds. A 7-0 decision over Andrew Morse pushed Smith to the third-place match where he picked up a 3-2 decision in the first tiebreaker over Eastern Michigan's Aaron Sulzer.
The two were tied after regulation and both held off takedown attempts in the sudden victory period before Smith took advantage by riding Sulzer out for all 30 seconds of the tiebreaker. Sulzer chose an optional start and rewarded Smith an escape point in hopes of earning a takedown to win the match, but Smith was able to hold off each attack to secure the win.
Trice advanced to the championship match of the heavyweight division where he had a rematch from earlier this season with No. 1 seed Dom Bradley of Missouri. Bradley took a 1-0 lead with an escape in the second period and was able to build over a minute of riding time before letting Trice escape in the third. With a riding time point secured for Bradley, Trice was forced to push the pace and got caught for a takedown to suffer a 4-1 loss.
Senior Donnie Corby (149), junior Scott Mattingly (141) and redshirt freshman Jackson Lewis (197) also responded with strong performances in the consolation brackets to finish third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Corby defeated Andrew Romanchik in the consolation semifinal before defeating Robert Jillard of Northern Illinois by a decision of 6-1 to claim third. The senior and two-time NCAA qualifier went up in the first with a takedown, extended the lead to 3-0 with a second-period escape and secured things with his second takedown of the match in the third. Corby will hope for an at-large bid for the NCAA Championships.
After falling in the first round of the tournament to Missouri's Nick Hucke, Mattingly won three-straight matches to earn a rematch versus Huckey in the third-place match. Unfortunately, the result was the same as Hucke came out on top and defeating Mattingly, 7-4.
Lewis, seeded No. 8 at 197 pounds, was able to finish fifth with a 4-3 decision over Northern Illinois' Parker Settecase.