Before No. 4 Michigan’s dual meet at Central Michigan on Sunday, former Chippewas John Matthews and Tom Minkel became the first wrestlers in school history to have their singlets retired.
A record 4,273 fans at Rose Arena showed their appreciation through a lengthy round of applause. But it was two current Chippewas who gave a respectful nod to the past by their performances on the mat.
No. 11 Trevor Stewart and No. 7 Brandon Sinnott notched upsets over two higher-ranked Wolverines, leading No. 9 Central Michigan to a 21-13 upset victory in Mount Pleasant and letting Matthews and Minkell know the torch they lit a generation ago won’t burn out any time soon.
With the Wolverines leading 10-8 after five matches, fifth-year senior and top-ranked Eric Tannenbaum endured a controversial takedown by Stewart halfway through the third period. Tannenbaum couldn’t come back in the closing moments, losing a 5-3 decision.
Michigan coach Joe McFarland said he was shocked at the sudden turn of events.
“I thought it wasn’t a takedown,” McFarland said. “But there’s not much we can do. (The officials) weren’t going to change it.”
In the ensuing match at 174 pounds, junior and No. 4 Steve Luke battled Sinnott to a 4-4 tie through overtime. But Sinnott’s nine seconds of riding time were enough to earn him a victory and turn a two-point Wolverine lead into a four-point deficit.
McFarland expressed his disappointment over Luke’s loss and his concern that Sunday’s defeat could bode poorly for the NCAA Championships in March.
“Steve needs to start accumulating riding time and working a little harder in the top position,” McFarland said. “He’s not paying enough attention in that position. I don’t want to see this cost him at the national tournament because he’s not willing to ride these guys.”
At 184 pounds, No. 2 Tyrel Todd took a 6-4 decision over No. 4 Christian Sinnott. With the junior’s 17th straight win, the Wolverines cut Central Michigan’s lead to one with two matches remaining. But then redshirt freshman No. 18 Anthony Biondo lost 9-1 to No. 5 Wynn Michalak.
Down 18-13, Michigan needed a pin at the heavyweight division against No. 8 Bubba Gritter to win.
But both Wolverine heavyweights, redshirt freshmen Chad Bleske and Matt Guhn, were too sick to compete. McFarland went with redshirt freshman Eddie Phillips, who had wrestled in just one dual meet all season and gave up 88 pounds to Gritter. Phillips’s lack of experience and the blatant size disadvantage proved too much as Gritter took a 6-1 decision to win.
For the fourth consecutive meet, the Wolverines had to play catch-up after losing the opening two matches. After falling behind 8-0, Michigan tallied three consecutive wins at the middleweights. True freshman and No. 3 Kellen Russell, seventh-ranked fifth-year senior Josh Churella and fifth-year senior Jeff Marsh reeled off wins at 141, 149 and 157 pounds, erasing an early deficit and giving Michigan its first lead of the afternoon.
“I thought (they) did a great job to get the momentum back on our side,” McFarland said.
But four defeats in the final five matches ripped that momentum away, giving the Chippewas their fourth victory over Michigan in school history.
Central Mich. 21