<TABLE border=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width="100%"><TBODY><TR><TD class=sm>MOUNT PLEASANT - No. 15 Central Michigan secured a share of 12th Mid-American Conference championship in the last 13 seasons with a 20-14 victory over Kent State at McGuirk Arena on Sunday.
CMU (8-8 overall), Kent State (14-6) and Ohio (10-6) all share the conference's regular season title with identical 4-1 MAC records.
"I'm proud of our team," said CMU head coach Tom Borrelli. "We started seven new guys most of the year, and we wrestled an unbelievable schedule. We probably asked too much of our young team. We got beat down a little bit, but I'm proud that they hung in there and kept fighting. When it's all said and done, I think our kids are proud to be Chippewas. They're going to fight to keep the things that our alumni and former teams have earned over the years."
CMU won five of Sunday's first seven bouts, but the dual was not decided until Jarod Trice, the nation's No. 2-ranked heavyweight, scored a dramatic 3-1 decision over Brendan Barlow.
Trice trailed 1-0 entering the third period, but chose to start in the down position and tied the score with an escape. After having several shots defended by Barlow, Trice finally got in on a leg and scored the bout's only takedown with just five seconds remaining in regulation.
"I know that I can get off bottom, and I know that once I get to my feet I can push the pace," Trice said. "When I push the pace that fast, heavyweights can't keep up. I know I can do that all the time, because that's what we practice here at Central Michigan. We do down workouts every day, and they make us sprint for those last 30 seconds, those last 15 seconds where we can get those last-second takedowns to win the match."
Kent State took its only lead of the dual when No. 12 Nic Bedelyon defeated Christian Cullinan, 9-5, in the opening bout at 125 pounds.
Scotti Sentes put CMU in front with a dominant 10-2 major decision over Tyler Small at 133 pounds. Sentes, ranked 11th nationally, scored the first of his three takedowns just 16 seconds into the match and built 2:44 of riding time in the first period alone. A second-period reversal helped Sentes finish with 4:28 riding time and his team-leading 26th victory of the season.
The Chippewas then picked up key victories from Scott Mattingly and Donnie Corby at 141 and 149 pounds, respectively. Mattingly trailed 2-0 after being taken down early in the first period by Chase Skonieczny, but he evened the score with a reversal in the second period. Mattingly began the third period on top and rode out Skonieczny, earning a 3-2 decision that bumped CMU's lead to 7-3.
"I thought the big match in the meet was Scott Mattingly's match," Borrelli said. "He got taken down right away and fought his way back and found a way to win the match. He rode his guy out the whole third period. That was probably the biggest momentum swing."
At 149, Corby used a first-period takedown, second-period escape and 2:22 of riding time to defeat Marcel Clopton, 4-1. Corby's decision extended CMU's lead to 10-3.
Kent State cut into the lead with a major decision at 157 pounds, but CMU senior Mike Miller followed the loss with an emotional victory at 165 pounds.
Limited by injuries to just seven matches all season and competing for only the third time since December, Miller took a 2-0 lead with a takedown just 10 seconds into his final appearance at McGuirk Arena. He added a second takedown in the period and a third takedown in the second period en route to an 8-2 decision over Ross Tice.
"There's a lot of pride there in that young man," Borrelli said. "For a kid to go through the things that he's gone through and still mentally be able to get himself ready to compete the way he does, he's a really special kid."
Ben Bennett then stretched CMU's lead to 17-7 with a 9-1 major decision at 174 pounds. Bennett, ranked seventh nationally with a 25-5 record, took Brandonn Johnson to the mat in each of the three periods and built up 2:56 of riding time.
Kent State drew within striking distance with a decision at 184 pounds and a major decision at 197 pounds; the Chippewas led 17-14 when Trice and No. 14-ranked Brendan Barlow took the mat. This marked the third straight year that a CMU-Kent State heavyweight bout decided the MAC title; Trice is 2-1 in those matches with victories each of the last two seasons.
CMU is off this week before traveling to Northern Illinois for the MAC Championships March 5-6. The Chippewas have won nine straight conference tournament titles.
No. 15 Central Michigan 20, Kent State 14
125: No. 12 Nic Bedelyon (KSU) dec. Christian Cullinan, 9-5; KSU 3-0
133: No. 11 Scotti Sentes (CMU) maj. dec. Tyler Small, 10-2; CMU 4-3
141: Scott Mattingly (CMU) dec. Chase Skonieczny, 3-2; CMU 7-3
149: Donnie Corby (CMU) dec. Marcel Copton, 4-1; CMU 10-3
157: No. 17 Matt Cathell (KSU) maj. dec. Ryan Cubberly, 9-1; CMU 10-7
165: No. 17 Mike Miller (CMU) dec. Ross Tice, 8-2; CMU 13-7
174: No. 7 Ben Bennett (CMU) maj. dec. Brandonn Johnson, 9-1; CMU 17-7
184: Casey Newburg (KSU) dec. Craig Kelliher, 6-2; CMU 17-10
197: No. 6 Dustin Kilgore (KSU) maj. dec. Chad Friend, 15-7; CMU 17-14
285: No. 2 Jarod Trice (CMU) dec. No. 14 Brendan Barlow, 3-1; CMU 20-14