Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – An icon of Central Michigan athletics and a former Chippewa great have been elected to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Michigan Chapter.
CMU coach Tom Borrelli and John Hartupee, an All-American in 1981, will be inducted as part of the 2018 Class on May 20 during a ceremony at Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor.
Borrelli, who is in his 27th year in charge of the program, has guided CMU to national prominence, leading the Chippewas to a first-place finish 14 times in the Mid-American Conference Championships and nine top-15 team finishes in the NCAA Championships.
Borrelli stands among the most-respected coaches in the nation. He earned the National Wrestling Coaches Association Bob Bubb Coaching Excellence Award in 2004 and he was named the National Coach of the Year by the NWCA and Wrestling International Newsmagazine (W.I.N) in 1998 when he guided CMU to its best finish, fifth, at the NCAA Championships.
A year later, Casey Cunningham won the national title at 157 pounds, becoming the CMU’s first, and still only, NCAA Division I national champion. Forty times, Borrelli’s CMU wrestlers have garnered All-America honors, and 12 times the Chippewas have walked out of the NCAA Championships with multiple All-Americans.
“When a lot of your life has been dedicated to coaching the sport of wrestling,” Borrelli said, “to be honored by people, especially in the state that you’ve spent 32 years in coaching, you’re happy that those people recognize and respect the job that you’ve done.
“The bigger part of it is that even though they’re honoring me, I think it’s a reflection on all the people who have wrestled for me and the goals they’ve accomplished. It’s a reflection on that as much as anything that I’ve done.”
The Chippewas’ wrestling practice facility inside the John G. Kulhavi Events Center was named last year in the honor of Borrelli and former Chippewa coach Charles “Chick” Sherwood, who was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Michigan Chapter in 2007.
Under Borrelli, CMU wrestlers have captured 80 individual MAC titles and he has been named the MAC Coach of the Year a record 12 times. Borrelli-coached Chippewas have earned 10 MAC Freshman of the Year Awards, eight MAC Wrestler of the Year Awards, and five times under his tutelage has a Chippewa earned the Outstanding Wrestler Award at the MAC Championships.
Academically, the Chippewas have ascended to tremendous heights under Borrelli as well. CMU wrestlers have earned NWCA All-Academic honors 51 times under Borrelli, and the Chippewas have finished in the top 10 in the NWCA national team grade point average rankings 11 times during his tenure.
After a four-year career at The Citidal, Borrelli began his coaching career at Clemson as an assistant. His first head coaching job came at Lake Superior State in Sault Ste. Marie, where he led the Lakers to five top-20 finishes in the NCAA Division II Championships from 1986-91.
The Chippewas' dominance of the MAC under Borrelli has been remarkable, as they have amassed a 112-23 record in conference duals during his tenure, and a 320-140-7 mark in all duals. Including his five years at Lake Superior, Borrelli’s career dual mark stands at 366-165-8.
Hartupee was the NCAA runner-up at 118 pounds in 1981, becoming at that point the third University Division All-American in program history. He was CMU’s first wrestler to make a title match at the NCAA Championships.
Hartupee, a three-time Michigan high school state champion at Mount Pleasant High School, was a two-time MAC champion and in 1997 was inducted into the CMU Marcy Weston Athletics Hall of Fame.
Hartupee was a two-time high school All-American, a Junior Olympics National champion, a Junior World National champion, a two-time AAU Senior National champion, a Canadian Senior National champion, a Masters World champion, a first alternate for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team, and a member of the U.S. National Team.
He still ranks among the top 10 in Chippewa history for victories in a season, career win percentage, career pins, and consecutive victories.
“The main thing that I look at with going into halls of fame is that it gives you a platform to thank the people who enabled you to do that,” said Hartupee, who went on to coach at Norwich, Clemson, Michigan, Pitt and Duquesne and is now semi-retired and living in the Pittsburgh area. “I was blessed with great parents that did everything they could to help me achieve my goals in wrestling. and I had great coaching.”
Hartupee was coached at CMU by Sherwood along with then-assistants John Matthews and Tom Minkel, both of whom were phenomenal wrestlers in their own right and are members of the CMU Hall of Fame. Rod Rapp, Hartupee’s coach at Mount Pleasant High School, is also a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Michigan Chapter and the CMU Hall of Fame..
“I was just so fortunate to have those coaches,” Hartupee said. “For any type of athletic achievement, you need help. You just can’t do it on your own. When you’re younger you don’t think about how fortunate you are. As you progress in age you realize it.
“I feel very fortunate to not only have been blessed with a healthy body, but also everything else that was right there for me in Mount Pleasant: Great coaching, great family, great education at both Mount Pleasant High School and at CMU, and my teammates as well as the coaches. We always had great (teammates) that were pushing each other and helping each other along the way in any way that we could.”