Chippewas Third After Day 1

March 3, 2018


Andy Sneddon,

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Some good, some not so good.

It was a mixed bag for the Central Michigan wrestling team on Saturday during day one of the Mid-American Conference Championships on its home mats at McGuirk Arena.

Three Chippewas - Mason Smith (141 pounds), CJ Brucki (174) and Matt Stencel (285) - each went 2-0 on Saturday and will wrestle for the title in their respective weight classes on Sunday. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. and wrestling begins at 11:30 a.m.

Seven other CMU wrestlers are still alive and in the hunt to finish as high as third place.

On the not-so-good front, CMU junior Justin Oliver, the No. 2 seed at 149 pounds, was upset by Northern Illinois freshman Nolan Baker, the seventh seed, in his opening bout. Baker, who entered the tournament with a 1-8 record, pinned Oliver in the first period when Oliver, who is ranked fourth nationally, led 16-4.

Also to the not-so-good, CMU junior 197-pounder Jordan Atienza was injured in his semifinal match with Eastern Michigan's Derek Hillman. The injury forced Atienza, the No. 2 seed, to forfeit the match. It was not immediately known on Saturday night whether Atienza would wrestle on Sunday in the consolation bracket.

The 20th-ranked Chippewas finished day one in third place with 98.5 points. Heavily favored Missouri, which is ranked third, is first with 134.5. Eastern Michigan (100.5) is third.

• Smith, a sophomore who is seeded second and ranked 10th nationally, will wrestle Missouri's Jaydin Eierman in Sunday's 141-pound final. Eierman, who is ranked second and is the top seed, won both of his matches on Saturday with first-period pins to improve to 27-1 on the season.

Smith (31-4) opened with a 3-1 victory over Jason Estevez of Buffalo and then topped Sa'Derian Perry of Eastern Michigan, 5-4, in the semifinals. Smith is seeded second.

It will mark the second meeting this season between Smith and Eierman. The first meeting went to Eierman, 6-0. It is Smith's only loss in his last 20 matches.

• Brucki, a senior, will battle Missouri's Daniel Lewis in Sunday's final at 174. Lewis, who is ranked third and is the No. 1 seed, remained unbeaten (28-0) on the season with a first-period pin and a technical fall on Saturday.

Brucki (23-10), who is ranked 14th, opened on Saturday with a 4-1 win over Ohio's Arsen Ashughyan, and then posted a 10-2 major decision win over Seldon Wright of Old Dominion in the semifinals.

• Stencel, who is unranked and was seeded fifth in the tournament, upset top-seeded Jake Gunning of Buffalo, 2-1 (TB-1), in the semifinals. Stencel opened with a pin in 1:07 of Kent State's Stephen Suglio, the fourth seed. Stencel had lost, on a pin, to Suglio two weeks ago in a dual meet at Kent. It was Stencel's 13th pin of the season.

Stencel (27-13) will wrestle Eastern Michigan's Gage Hutchison (19-6), the No. 2 seed, in Sunday's final. Gunning was the defending champion and Hutchison was the runner-up last season at the MAC Championships.

Oliver is one of seven Chippewas who will attempt to make their way through the consolation bracket on Sunday. The others are Drew Hildebrandt (125), Dresden Simon (133), Colin Heffernan (157), Logan Parks (165), Jordan Ellingwood (184) and Atienza.

• Hildebrandt, who was seeded fourth, opened with a 2-1 (TB-1) win over Missouri's Barlow McGhee, and then dropped a 7-3 decision to Old Dominion's Michael McGee, the top seed. Hildebrandt is scheduled to open on Sunday in the consolation bracket against Eastern Michigan's Tomas Gutierrez.

• Simon, who was seeded seventh, dropped a 19-0 technical fall to Ohio's Cameron Kelly, the No. 2 seed, and then topped Caleb Richardson of Old Dominion, 8-3. Simon is slated to open on Sunday against Kent State's Anthony Tutolo.

• After his loss to Baker, Oliver bounced back with a 12-2 major decision win over Chance Driscoll of Kent State. Oliver is scheduled to wrestle Kenan Carter of Old Dominion in his first match on Sunday.

• Heffernan opened with a 12-3 major decision victory over Cullen Cummings of Ohio and then squared off with Missouri's Joey Lavallee, the top seed who is ranked fourth nationally. In one of the most-entertaining and hotly contested matches of the tournament, Lavallee scored a 7-5 victory in a wild match that went down to the wire. Heffernan, a senior who was seeded fourth, is slated to open against Caden McWhirter of Northern Illinois on Sunday.

• Parks, a sophomore who was seeded third, opened with a pin at 2:39 of sixth-seeded Andrew Scott of Northern Illinois, and then fell, 4-2 (SV-1) to Eastern Michigan's Zachary Carson. Parks will wrestle Shane Jones of Old Dominion on Sunday.

• Ellingwood, the No. 2 seed, opened with a 3-0 win over Hunter Yeargen of Ohio and then dropped a 3-1 (SV-1) decision to Eastern Michigan's Kayne MacCallum. Ellingwood is scheduled to wrestle Buffalo's Brett Perry on Sunday.

• Atienza, who was also seeded second, posted a 17-1 technical fall over Noah Bushman of Old Dominion in his opening bout before succumbing to injury against Eastern's Hillman, the sixth seed, in the semifinals.

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