MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- It's not about the start, but the finish.
The Central Michigan wrestling team closed its dual-meet season on Sunday, getting key wins from junior Logan Parks and senior Jordan Atienza, in posting a 20-15 nonconference victory over Purdue at McGuirk Arena.
The Chippewas won two of their last three duals to finish 5-8. They now turn their attention to the Mid-American Conference Championships March 8-9 at Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va.
"I'm proud of our team," CMU coach Tom Borrelli said. "We've got the right guys here, we've just got to get them a little more seasoned. They're fighters, they're not going to give up, they're not going to quit.
"We've been really close to winning a lot of dual meets this year. We've had some unfortunate circumstances where we had to forfeit (a weight class) and we've lost close dual meets. All of our MAC dual meets other than the Missouri meet could have gone either way, it just hasn't rolled our way. Today it rolled our way a little bit, which was fun.
"I felt like we've been there all year, knocking at the door, we just haven't kicked the door open yet. Today helped."
Parks posted a pin at 157 pounds, extending CMU's lead to 14-6 and putting a charge into the Chippewas and the crowd. Atienza's dramatic 5-4 victory at 184 upped CMU's lead to 17-12 with two matches remaining.
"I knew before the dual that we had a chance, I wasn't counting us out, but (Parks') pin was huge and that set us up in a really good spot to win the dual," Atienza said. "It gave me a little extra fire in my match."
The Chippewas got a 16-1 technical fall from sophomore Drew Hildebrandt at 125 in the meet's opening bout. The win came two days after the 17th-ranked Hildebrandt knocked off eighth-ranked Rayvon Foley of Michigan State in a dual on Friday night in East Lansing. Hildebrandt has won seven consecutive matches and is 17-7 on the season.
CMU also got victories from Dresden Simon (149) and Matt Stencel (285) as the latter ran his win streak to 15 matches and his record to 24-4. He is ranked seventh nationally. The Chippewas led, 17-15, heading into Stencel's match and his 4-1 win clinched the victory.
Simon won for the fifth time in his last seven matches, improving to 8-11.
Parks' pin of 13th-ranked Griffin Parriott came with 49 seconds remaining and Parks trailing, 5-3.
"I could feel the guy was getting pretty tired," said Parks, who improved to 19-11. "I just kept wrestling, never stopped wrestling."
The pin was a turning point, Borrelli said.
"I think Logan was the guy who made it possible today, and then (Atienza), he had to really scrap for that win," he said.
Atienza, who was honored prior to the match on Senior Day, scored all five of his points in the third period, taking down his opponent, Max Lyon, twice.
"He came out really aggressive and I think his game plan was to get me tired (with) a high volume of attacks," Atienza said. "With him attacking there wasn't too much opportunity to set something up, so I wouldn't say that I was wrestling conservatively; I was just kind of letting the match come to me and not forcing anything."
"It's not always about doing it the most, it's doing it right."
The win capped a big weekend for Atienza, who on Friday defeated Michigan State's Cameron Caffey, 8-5. Caffey is ranked 19th.
"Leading up to the (Sunday) match I tried to treat it like it was any other regular day," Atienza said. "If you get too caught up in the moment, too emotional, too excited, you might not wrestle the way that you know you can or up to your potential.
"I wrestle my best when I'm relaxed and calm and not too excited. After the match, right after I won, it was really gratifying. I've kind of had a rough season by my standards; I haven't had as much success as I wanted to, but to close out the regular season with these two big wins, and for the team to win today, it gives me a lot of hope and a lot of confidence going into the postseason. The emotions, it's still hitting me."
To see Atienza get a pair of hard-fought victories brought a smile to Borrelli, who watched his lone senior battle back from offseason shoulder surgery and grow into a leadership role with his teammates.
"He's just now getting his conditioning back," Borrelli said. "It takes a while. I'm more proud of him in persevering in the five years (that he's been here). He's matured and grown, not just as a wrestler -- the wrestling thing, that's the easy stuff - he's really matured as a young man. That's what I'm most proud of."
125: Drew Hildebrandt (C) tech. pin Marshall Craig V, 16-1
133: Ben Thornton (P) dec. Deven Perez, 9-3
141: Nate Limmex (P) dec. Drew Marten, 12-5
149: Dresden Simon (C) dec. Parker Filius, 8-6
157: Logan Parks (C) pinned Griffin Parriott, 6:11
165: Cole Wysocki (P) dec. Bret Fedewa, 8-4
174: Dylan Lydy (P) dec. Collin Lieber, 7-4
184: Jordan Atienza (C) dec. Max Lyon, 5-4
197: Christian Brunner (P) dec. Landon Pelham, 4-3
285: Matt Stencel (C) dec. Jacob Aven, 4-1