Season Review: Another Championship Year for CMU Wrestling Courtesy: Scott Rex/CMU Athletics
Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
CMU head coach Tom Borrelli shouts instructions during the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships. Borrelli guided the Chippewas to a share of the MAC regular season title, the conference tournament championship and a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Championships in 2011.
Watch: Wrestling Insider Season Review
MOUNT PLEASANT - Tom Borrelli may have done his finest coaching job in his 20th season leading Central Michigan's wrestling program.
Despite having a roster that included just two seniors and filling his lineup with six first-time starters, Borrelli molded his young and inexperienced team into a championship contender. After wrestling an aggressive dual meet schedule that included six top-20 ranked opponents, the Chippewas won a share of the Mid-American Conference regular season title, took the MAC Championships title and finished tied for 13th at the NCAA Championships.
The 2010-11 season began in November in upstate New York with a dual meet against preseason No. 1 Cornell. The Big Red claimed a 24-10 decision, but CMU was back in action the following day, finishing third among 11 teams at Cornell's Body Bar Invitational. Scotti Sentes won the 133-pound title, while Ben Bennett was runner-up at 174 pounds.
Heavyweight Jarod Trice departed from Cornell following the dual, traveling to Fresno, Calif. to compete in the NWCA All-Star Classic. A late takedown lifted American's Ryan Flores to a 3-1 decision over Trice.
While the young Chippewas cut their teeth against the challenging dual meet schedule, Sentes, Bennett and Trice emerged as a trio that could lead the team to tournament success. CMU placed 15th at the Cliff Keen Invitational as Bennett finished runner-up, Trice third and Sentes seventh, and the Chippewas were seventh at Midlands as Trice and Bennett placed runner-up and Sentes was third.
After spending the season's first two months on the road, CMU opened McGuirk Arena by hosting No. 18 Michigan on Jan. 16. In front of a crowd of 3,047, the Wolverines won six of the dual's 10 bouts and claimed a 21-12 victory in the first wrestling event at McGuirk Arena.
CMU went on to win four of its next five duals, however, setting up a showdown with Kent State in the regular season finale at McGuirk Arena. Kent State entered the dual as the lone unbeaten team in the MAC, but CMU won six bouts to scrape out a 20-14 victory and a share of the MAC regular season title, the Chippewas' 12th in the past 13 seasons.
Riding the momentum of the win over Kent State, the Chippewas traveled to Northern Illinois in search of their 10th consecutive MAC Championships title. CMU produced six finalists, with Sentes, Bennett and Trice claiming individual conference championships and automatic bids to the NCAA Championships. Chippewas placed in the top three in eight weight classes, and CMU won the closest team race since 1992; CMU scored 79 team points to finish ahead of Kent State (73.5) and Buffalo (69.5).
The tournament title was CMU's 15th overall, tied for the most in MAC history.
Donnie Corby , the MAC runner-up at 149 pounds, earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships and joined Sentes, Bennett and Trice at the national tournament. Trice advanced to the semifinals at heavyweight before eventually placing fourth; Sentes (fourth place) and Bennett (eighth place) joined Trice on the medal stand as CMU tied for 13th place in the team standings, its fifth straight top-15 finish and seventh in the last eight seasons.
CMU was one of 15 programs to produce at least three All-Americans, and for the second straight year the Chippewas had the most All-Americans of any program in the state of Michigan.
Sentes and Trice were named the co-recipients of the program's Chick Sherwood Award as CMU's most valuable wrestlers, while Mike Miller and Bennett were the co-recipients of the Harry Richards Coaches Award. Corby was named the Most Improved Wrestler, while Scott Mattingly received the Outstanding Freshman Award.
Three Chippewas earned a total of four MAC Wrestler of the Week honors during the season: Bennett was recognized after sweeping his three matches at the Northern Quad, Trice after finishing runner-up at Midlands, Bennett again after sweeping his four matches at National Duals and Mattingly after his key 3-2 decision over Kent State's Chase Skonieczny in the regular season finale.
Mattingly and Corby both were named to the Academic All-MAC team.
The outlook for the 2011-12 season is bright, as eight of CMU's 10 starters have eligibility remaining, including all three All-Americans.