Updated Sat, Dec 1, 2012 11:37 pm
In Ohio’s MAC opener, Central Michigan was too much for the Bobcats, who fell 23-12 in the Convo. The Green and White were unable to overcome the talent of level of the 12th ranked Chippewas, who wrestled four of their five nationally ranked wrestlers.
“It’s always pretty intimidating going in (to a match) knowing when you know the team has a lot of ranked opponents,” said sophomore Harrison Hightower, who came away from the match with a victory.
The first match of the night pitted heavyweights No. 14 Jeremy Johnson and No. 4 Jarod Trice against each other. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, their All-American star fell to Central Michigan’s Trice in a close 3-1 decision. The defeat dropped Johnson’s record to 9-3.
Following the heavyweight match was the 125 lb. weight class bout. Chippewa Joe Roth defeated Freshman KeVon Powell 11-3 in a major decision that gave Central Michigan a 7-0 lead.
Freshman Kagan Squire wrestled in the next two matches for the Bobcats, but lost both times by scores of 10-2 and 5-3 to Tyler Keserling and Scott Mattingly respectively.
Central Michigan went up by a score of 17-0 on Ohio following an Andrew Romanchik defeat at the hands of Chippewa Donnie Corby in 5-3 decision.
Despite the big lead that Central Michigan built early on, Ohio head coach Joel Greenlee took a more positive approach, saying, “I think there were two matchups that were tossups, that we could have won. You give us six points and take away six from them and it’s a heck of a duel.”
After being down 17-0 the Bobcats showed some life, and got their first points of the night in the 157 lb. matchup. Freshman Chino Spartak and Lucas Smith grappled in an overtime match tied 1-1 until Ohio’s Spartak won a takedown of Smith. The victory made the score 17-3 in favor of Central Michigan.
“It was just unfortunate that two matches prior to me didn’t go our way, but I just stayed patient, stayed calm and kept my mental plan intact,” said Spartak.
Spartak’s victory fired up the crowd and his teammates, and the Bobcats rode the excitement to put up wins in the next two bouts.
In the 165 lb. weight class, Hightower came up big for Ohio as he defeated No. 20 Mike Ottinger, a MAC Champion last year, by a 10-4 decision.
The win gave Hightower his eighth of the season.
Regarding the match, Hightower said, “Going into the match I knew it was a big match, he was ranked top 20, so I knew I had to pull out a big win for my team.”
“I think it was just being aggressive, going out there and knowing that my moves were working, not going out there and wrestling to his style but wrestling to my style.”
Cody Walters continued Ohio’s streak as he won a 5-3 decision over Craig Kelliher in the second overtime match of the night. The decision cut Central Michigan’s lead to eight points at 17-9, and maintained a perfect record for Walters as he grabbed his eleventh win of the year.
No. 5 Chippewa Ben Bennett put the Green and White’s run to an end when he pinned junior Ryan Garringer. The result put the away team up 23-9.
Freshman Phil Wellington grabbed his eight win of the season when he ended the night for the Bobcats on a positive note with a 4-2 decision over Central Michigan’s Jackson Lewis.
“Overall as a team I think we wrestled pretty well, said Hightower. “We have a lot of young guys and I think they wrestled well too.”
The sophomore was referring to the five freshmen that coach Joel Greenlee put out on the mats tonight.
Greenlee addressed those freshmen, saying, “I thought they wrestled hard. Technically-wise they are getting better. They have a plan and they stick to the plan. Obviously some of those guys came out with big wins.”
Along with the praise he gave them, in a long explanation he mentioned where his freshman can improve.
“We really need to improve (our bottom skills.) That is something that usually gets better as you get older. When you are a freshman, generally in high school you were so good that nobody could hold you down and now you get guys that can hold you down, and you don’t know what the heck to do. We’re getting better and better at it, but we are not where we need to be. We need to learn how to stay off our belly, keep our knees underneath us and our elbows back.
“We’re making gains.”
Hightower added, “We came in as the underdogs but I think a lot of us fought real hard and I think we have a lot more to prove.”
The Bobcats will look to prove themselves more as they take on Eastern Michigan Sunday in the Convo at 5:30.