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MOUNT PLEASANT - Chad Friend 's victorious debut at 197 pounds helped lead No. 17 Central Michigan to a 19-14 win over Buffalo in a Mid-American Conference dual meet at McGuirk Arena on Sunday.
Friend's decision was the key victory in a dual that saw CMU jump to a 9-0 lead before trailing twice in the final five bouts.
Friend made an instant impact at 197 pounds, driving Buffalo's Josh Peters to the mat in the match's opening seconds for the first of his three takedowns. He never trailed on his way to a 7-3 decision that gave the Chippewas a 16-14 lead.
Heavyweight Jarod Trice secured the dual victory with a 6-2 decision over Brett Correll. Trice trailed 1-0 entering the third period before scoring a pair of late takedowns.
"We noticed Chad having a hard time competing with the same intensity he was practicing with," said CMU head coach Tom Borrelli on moving Friend up to 197. "I think making the weight was taking a lot out of him, so we made the decision to make the switch. His record is not really indicative of how good of a wrestler he is, and I think he proved it a little bit today."
Decisions by Christian Cullinan (125 pounds), Scotti Sentes (133) and Scott Mattingly (141) staked the Chippewas to their early 9-0 lead.
Cullinan edged Sean Walton, 4-2 in sudden victory, after the pair exchanged reversals in the final 20 seconds of the third period. Walton's reversal came in the final 10 seconds, and the officials conferred before awarding the two points following the completion of regulation. In overtime, Cullinan finished the decisive takedown with just three seconds remaining in the period.
At 133 pounds, Sentes needed just an escape and riding time to defeat Kevin Smith, 2-0. Sentes escaped early in the second period, then rode out Smith in the third.
Mattingly scored a late reversal for his 6-5 decision over Chris Conti at 141 pounds. A first-period takedown and second-period back points gave Mattingly a 4-2 edge entering the final period. Conti evened the bout with a takedown after Mattingly chose to start the period neutral, but Mattingly finished a reversal with 30 seconds remaining to extend CMU's lead to 9-0.
Buffalo answered with major decisions at 149 and 157 pounds to draw within 9-8, then took its first lead when John-Martin Cannon defeated Eric Cubberly , 6-4, at 165 pounds.
Ben Bennett regained the lead for CMU with an 11-0 major decision over Ron Majerus at 174 pounds. Bennett scored three takedowns and a pair of back points to improve to 23-5 overall.
Jimmy Hamel gave Buffalo its final lead with a 5-3 decision over Craig Kelliher at 184 pounds. The bout was tied 2-2 entering the third period before Hamel scored a takedown and Kelliher was penalized for an illegal hold. The Bulls led 14-13 following Hamel's victory, setting the stage for Friend and Trice to rally the Chippewas.
"It was nice to get a win," Borrelli said. "Any time we can win right now, and not just from a team standpoint, but any time we're competing well as individuals is really important this time of year."
The Chippewas improved to 6-8 overall, 2-1 in the MAC with the victory, the 64th in their last 67 conference duals. Buffalo fell to 8-8 overall, 1-3 in the MAC.
CMU closes the regular season with a pair of MAC duals at McGuirk Arena this week. The Chippewas host Eastern Michigan Thursday night and Kent State Sunday afternoon, when a share of the MAC championship could be on the line.
No. 17 Central Michigan 19, Buffalo 14
125: Christian Cullinan (CMU) dec. Sean Walton, 4-2 SV1; CMU 3-0
133: No. 11 Scotti Sentes (CMU) dec. Kevin Smith, 2-0; CMU 6-0
141: Scott Mattingly (CMU) dec. Chris Conti, 6-5; CMU 9-0
149: No. 14 Desi Green (UB) maj. dec. Donnie Corby , 11-3; CMU 9-4
157: Mark Lewandowski (UB) maj. dec. Ryan Cubberly , 8-0; CMU 9-8
165: John-Martin Cannon (UB) dec. Eric Cubberly , 6-4; UB 11-9
174: No. 7 Ben Bennett (CMU) maj. dec. Ron Majerus, 11-0; CMU 13-11
184: Jimmy Hamel (UB) dec. Craig Kelliher , 5-3; UB 14-13
197: Chad Friend (CMU) dec. Josh Peters, 7-3; CMU 16-14
285: No. 2 Jarod Trice (CMU) dec. Brett Correll, 6-2; CMU 19-14