Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - It came down to two men from Wisconsin to determine a big dual meet in the state of Michigan.
Central Michigan's Newton Smerchek held on for a 1-0 win over Ayoola Olapo in the heavyweight bout Thursday night, giving the 17th-ranked Chippewas a 19-18 upset of 10th-ranked Michigan in a nonconference wrestling dual before a raucous crowd of 1,187 at McGuirk Arena.
It was the Chippewas' first dual win over the Wolverines in four years. Michigan (7-5) was coming off a weekend in which won dual meets against Rutgers and Lehigh, two teams that were ranked higher than the Wolverines.
"I think it's important for our guys to be competitive against them," said CMU coach Tom Borrelli, whose team won its third consecutive dual to improve to 6-2. "We've got mostly Michigan guys and they have a lot of Michigan guys. You wrestled against them in high school, they were recruited by Michigan, a lot of times our guys weren't. It adds a little bit more fuel to the fire I'd say."
And that fired burned hot in front the largest crowd McGuirk has seen for a wrestling meet in quite some time.
CMU's Jordan Ellingwood put a charge into the crowd with a first-period pin in the 184-pound match to put CMU in front, 16-15.
U-M went back in front, 18-16, when Jackson Striggow defeated Austin Severn, 3-1, at 197, setting the stage for the dramatic heavyweight bout.
Smerchek, a native of Casco, Wis., scored an escape early in the second period, then locked up with Olapo, who hails from Menomonee Falls, Wis., the rest of the way and held on for the win and the three team points for the decision victory.
"It's a real special opportunity, but it isn't just me who's getting to do that," Smerchek said of having the dual come down to his match. "There were a lot of great matches that we had tonight. Everyone wrestled to do what they needed to do to make that opportunity happen."
It was the first time that Smerchek had ever faced Olapo, who wasn't listed on Michigan's lineup card and is listed on the team roster as a 197-pounder.
"That was a surprise that I had that kid, but that kid's from Wisconsin so I've seen him wrestle before, but I'd never wrestled him," Smerchek said. "I really had to just focus on the game plan. Did a lot of praying as well, but just focused on the game plan that coach and I had gone over for the entire season so far. It's really focusing on getting my positions that I'm comfortable with."
Brent Fleetwood, who is unranked, got the Chippewas off to a good start with a 4-0 win over 10th-ranked Conner Youtsey at 125. CMU freshman Mason Smith took an 8-0 major decision at 141 and Justin Oliver won by decision at 149 to give CMU a 10-4 lead.
"Mason Smith getting the major -- we won the dual meet by one point so those two bonus matches (with Ellingwood's pin) were huge," Borrelli said. "I thought Brent Fleetwood wrestled a great match. Controlled that kid from the top position almost the whole match."
Michigan won the next three matches, including one on a technical fall by No. 2-ranked Logan Massa at 165, to forge a 15-10 lead.
That's when Ellingwood stepped up and delivered the pin.
"I knew we needed bonus points and I had every intention of going out there and trying to get bonus points," Ellingwood said. "I knew I had to score points.
"It was really big for us. We were confident the whole time. We were getting early takedowns, we just went out and attacked them."
The atmosphere was indeed electric as the Chippewas delivered a big victory over a higher-ranked opponent, and it gave them a sweep of the state's Big Ten schools. CMU defeated Michigan State, 23-12, in mid-January.
"You like that atmosphere, but your guys have to be able to ignore that and they have to be able to execute under pressure," Borrelli said. "I tell our guys all the time the difference between a good wrestler and a great wrestler is someone who can execute when the pressure's on and there's a lot going on around them and there's a lot on the line.
"I think our guys for the most part did a good job of that tonight."
CENTERAL MICHIGAN 19, MICHIGAN 18
125: Brent Fleetwood (CMU) dec. Conner Youtsey, 4-0
133: Stevan Micic (UM) major dec. Corey Keener, 16-6
141: Mason Smith (CMU) major dec. Sal Profaci, 8-0
149: Justin Oliver (CMU) dec. Malik Amine, 8-2
157: Brian Murphy (UM) dec. Colin Heffernan, 4-2, SV-1
165: Logan Massa (UM) tech. fall Logan Parks, 21-6, 5:28
174: Myles Amine (UM) dec. CJ Brucki, 8-2
184: Jordan Ellingwood (CMU) pinned Aaron Calderon, 1:02
197: Jackson Striggow (UM) dec. Austin Severn, 3-1
HWT: Newton Smerchek (CMU) dec. Ayoola Olapo, 1-0