Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – The Central Michigan wrestling team did nothing but help its reputation last weekend in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
The Chippewas placed seventh in a very strong field and came away with three individual placers including junior Justin Oliver, who won the 149-pound title.
But the cloud in all the silver linings is an injury to senior 157-pounder Colin Heffernan. A separated shoulder will keep him sidelined for up to six weeks.
“I try to look at it as a positive,” said Heffernan, who missed a good chunk of his sophomore season which, ironically, opened the door to allow Oliver to claim a spot in the lineup. “It’ll give my body a break and maybe it needed a break; maybe it’ll give my mind a break.”
That Heffernan, who remains ranked 16th in his weight class by InterMat.com, went through and survived a similar injury two years ago is a plus, both he and coach Tom Borrelli said.
“I definitely know what I’ve got to do to get back in shape, I know what I’ve got to do with my mind to stay positive,” said Heffernan, who was injured in a third-round match, which he eventually dropped on a medical forfeit, against Tristan Rifanburg of Binghamton. “Having been there before that’s why I think I’ll be able to come out of this successfully.”
Heffernan said he will spend time on the treadmill keeping his cardiovascular shape intact and his weight manageable.
“It sucks that I’m going to miss December because we’ve got a lot of good competition in December that would help set me up for March, but I’ve got to stay positive with it,” he said.
In Heffernan’s place the Chippewas will take redshirt freshman Blake Montrie this weekend when they wrestle duals at South Dakota State (Friday, 9 p.m.) and at North Dakota State (Sunday, 3 p.m.).
“It’s changes things a little bit, makes it more difficult,” CMU coach Tom Borrelli said of Heffernan’s absence. “But just like any other sport – next guy up. We’ll travel with a different guy this weekend and he’ll have an opportunity to prove himself.”
Montrie finished 12-6 a year ago wrestling in open tournaments. This season, he is 4-3, again wrestling in opens.
• The Chippewas, who are 1-1 in duals, are 19th this week in the National Wrestling Coaches Association rankings. South Dakota State is 3-2 in duals and ranked 17th. North Dakota State, 0-3, is unranked.
• Oliver has moved up to No. 3 nationally at 149 in the InterMat.com rankings. Also for the Chippewas, Mason Smith, who placed fifth in Las Vegas, is 20th at 141; CJ Brucki is 15th at 174; and Jordan Ellingwood is 14th. Ellingwood placed eighth in Las Vegas.
• For South Dakota State, Seth Gross, the defending national runner-up at 133, is ranked first. Also for the Jackrabbits, Luke Zilverberg is ranked 12th at 157; David Kocer is 12th at 174; and Nate Rotert is sixth at 197.
• For North Dakota State, Clayton Ream is ranked 15th at 157 and Andrew Fogarty is 16th at 165.