Preview: Central Michigan vs. Minnesota

The 2010 Northern Quad is set to take place on Saturday at the UCR Regional Sports Center in Rochester, Minnesota. The four-team field includes Minnesota, Central Michigan, North Dakota State, and Appalachian State. The event is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. CT. The Central Michigan-Minnesota dual, which is slated for approximately 3 p.m. CT, is without the question the showcase dual of the event. Central Michigan has four ranked wrestlers, while Minnesota has seven. The two teams met last season at the NWCA/Cliff Keen Nationals Duals, with Minnesota coming out on top, 25-9.

Below is a weight-by-weight breakdown with predictions for the dual.

125: Kyle Waldo (Central Michigan) vs. No. 4 Zach Sanders (Minnesota)
Sanders, a two-time All-American, has been a steady performer for the Gophers over the past two seasons. He's quick, aggressive, and can score with a variety of offensive attacks. He started the season by winning the Bison Open, but is coming off a bad loss in the NWCA All-Star Classic to Anthony Robles of Arizona State. Robles scored four three-point nearfalls to go up 14-0 on Sanders in the first period, before earning a technical fall, 20-2, in the second period. Waldo, a four-time state champion who started his collegiate career at Nebraska, comes into the event with a 12-6 record on the season. His biggest win this season came over 19th-ranked Frank Perrelli of Cornell on Nov. 19.

Bottom Line: Minnesota will be looking for bonus points here. Waldo has yet to give up bonus points this season, but hasn't faced a wrestler as skilled as Sanders. Don't be surprised if Waldo keeps it close early, but look for Sanders to push the pace and eventually pull away and win convincingly.

Prediction: Sanders major dec. Waldo (Minnesota +4)

133: No. 6 Scotti Sentes (Central Michigan) vs. No. 18 David Thorn/Thane Antczak (Minnesota)
Sentes, a two-time NCAA qualifier and 2009 All-American, has started the season 5-0 after winning the Body Bar Invitational. He's very tough on top and that has been one of the keys to his early success at CMU. His main focus has been getting better on his feet. He was scoring off his shots at the Body Bar Invitational, and when he's doing that he's tough to beat. Minnesota has three very capable wrestlers at this weight class in Thorn, Antczak, and Reiter. Antczak saw some action in the lineup last season, while Thorn and Reiter are coming off redshirt seasons. Antczak appears to have the upper hand on Reiter after beating him head-to-head at the Bison Open and placing ahead of him at the Kaufman-Brand Open. Thorn, who is ranked 18th, is the most credentialed of the three, but has yet to see action this season.

Bottom Line: Sentes will certainly be favored regardless of which wrestler Minnesota sends out. Bonus points aren't out of the question, especially the way Sentes has been wrestling. But all three of Minnesota's wrestlers can battle and don't give up positions easily, which is why I'm not giving Sentes bonus points in this one.

Prediction: Sentes dec. Thorn (Central Michigan +3)

141: Scott Mattingly (Central Michigan) vs. No. 5 Mike Thorn (Minnesota)
Thorn, a returning All-American and Big Ten champion for the Gophers, has a wide open style and loves to put points on the scoreboard. He has the ability to win an NCAA title this season if he puts together a strong tournament. Mattingly, a redshirt freshman, comes into the event with a 7-8 record on the season. He was a three-time Ohio state placewinner and Junior Nationals freestyle All-American, which shows that he's very skilled and has a lot of potential. However, it's experience that he lacks. Mattingly is a serviceable Division I starter at this point and should continue to improve throughout the season.

Bottom Line: Thorn has made a habit of crushing unranked wrestlers, like Mattingly. Look for Thorn to score early and often and cruise to a technical fall victory ... or possibly stick Mattingly.

Prediction: Thorn tech. fall Mattingly (Minnesota +5)

149: Donnie Corby (Central Michigan) vs. Danny Zilverberg/Pat Smith (Minnesota)
Corby is strong, solid wrestler. He went 16-13 last season and has started this season 4-3. His most impressive performance this season came in a loss to 2010 NCAA champion Kyle Dake of Cornell. Corby was very close to pinning Dake in the second period and led 2-1 after two periods. But Dake battled back in the third period, scoring a reversal and nearfall points to win 6-2. Much like the 133-pound weight class, this is another weight class that has not been solidified for Minnesota. Zilverberg, though, appears to have the upper hand based on his early-season performance. Zilverberg opened a lot of eyes when he won a FILA Junior Nationals title in freestyle this past spring, which included victories over the Alton twins, Andrew and Dylan, two of the nation's top recruits in 2010. (Andrew Alton is currently ranked No. 12 at 141 pounds as a true freshman at Penn State.) Smith is a University Nationals champion in Greco-Roman and went 11-4 as a redshirt.

Bottom Line: This is a pivotal match in the dual and one that could go either way. Corby did lose to Minnesota's Joe Grygelko, 3-2, last season, but is down a weight class and seems to be wrestling at a higher level. I'll take Corby in a close one, but won't be shocked if it goes the other way.

Prediction: Corby dec. Zilverberg (Central Michigan +3)

157: Eric Cubberly (Central Michigan) vs. Alec Ortiz/Brian Peterson (Minnesota)
Cubberly, a two-time Ohio state champion, is coming off a solid season in which he went 15-7 at 165 pounds and placed at the Midlands. He dropped down a weight class this season and has started 5-2, which includes a third-place finish at the Body Bar Invitational. With 2008 Olympian Jake Deitchler being ineligible for the first half of the season for accepting prize money from USA Wrestling, Minnesota will turn to Alec Ortiz or Brian Peterson. Ortiz, a three-time Oregon state champion, redshirted last season and compiled a 15-6 record. Peterson has seen limited action in the lineup over the past two seasons.

Bottom Line: Cubberly is the favorite based on experience and collegiate production.

Prediction: Cubberly dec. Ortiz (Central Michigan +3)

165: No. 3 Mike Miller (Central Michigan) vs. No. 10 Cody Yohn (Minnesota)
Miller, who is ranked No. 3, has moved down two weight classes this season after competing at 184 pounds last season. He beat two-time NCAA finalist and 2008 NCAA champion Mike Pucillo of Ohio State at the NCAAs last season, but failed to place after an injury-riddled season. He was an NCAA runner-up at 174 pounds two seasons ago. Miller had shoulder surgery in the spring and has been yet to step on the mat this season. Yohn, an NCAA qualifier last season, has been steadily improving over the past two seasons at Minnesota. The 165-pound weight class in the Big Ten was a meat grinder last season and Yohn took his lumps, but battled several of the nation's top wrestlers tough. He has started this season 7-1. His only blemish on his record this season came in the finals of the Kaufman-Brand Open when he was pinned by Oklahoma State freshman Dallas Bailey.

Bottom Line: This is one of the more intriguing matchups of the dual. Miller comes in with the higher ranking and better college wrestling resume, but the fact that he hasn't stepped on the mat this season leaves some uncertainty on how he will perform. If Yohn can beat Miller, it would be the biggest win of his young college career and serve as a big confidence booster. Expect this match to be competitive regardless of which way it goes.

Prediction: Miller dec. Yohn (Central Michigan + 3)

174: No. 6 Ben Bennett (Central Michigan) vs. No. 10 Scott Glasser (Minnesota)
This is a battle of two of the nation's top 174-pounders. The two met twice last season and split those matches. Glasser won the first meeting at the NWCA Cliff Keen National Duals, but Bennett came back to avenge the loss at the NCAAs en route to becoming an All-American. Bennett has started this season 3-2, but both losses have come at the hands of No. 1 Mack Lewnes of Cornell. Glasser has started this season 6-1. He won the Bison Open and reached the finals of the Kaufman-Brand Open before losing to Oklahoma State's Mike Benefiel.

Bottom Line: This is one of the premier matchups and one that could determine the outcome of the dual. These two are very evenly matched. Glasser was one of the most consistent performers in the Big Ten last season, but had an NCAA tournament that he would just as soon forget, failing to place as the No. 5 seed. Will Glasser come back and win the rubber match? Or will Bennett make it two in a row over Glasser? Flip a coin.

Prediction: Glasser dec. Bennett (Minnesota +3)

184: Chad Friend/Dillon Kern (Central Michigan) vs. Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota)
Steinhaus, a redshirt freshman for the Gophers, has looked very impressive in the early part of the season. He won the Bison Open in dominating fashion and reached the finals of the Kaufman-Brand Open, losing a one-point match to Oklahoma State freshman sensation Chris Perry. Friend got the nod for Central Michigan in their only dual this season, a match he lost 4-0 to fourth-ranked Steve Bosak of Cornell. Friend did not compete at the Body Bar Invitational. Kern was the starter for the second half of last season for the Chippewas at 184 pounds, replacing the injured Mike Miller, and finished with a 7-11 season mark. He competed at the Eastern Michigan Open this season, but failed to place.

Bottom Line: Based on the way Steinhaus has been wrestling this season, it's hard to envision him losing to Friend or Kern. He has picked up bonus points in over half of his matches this season. I expect the Gopher freshman to win this one, but don't expect bonus points.

Prediction: Steinhaus dec. Friend (Minnesota + 3)

197: Craig Kelliher/Jeff Beebe (Central Michigan) vs. No. 5 Sonny Yohn (Minnesota)
Yohn has his sights set on winning an NCAA title this season after earning All-American honors last season by placing eighth at the NCAAs. Yohn won the Bison Open this season, but dropped a match at the NWCA All-Star Classic to Clayton Foster of Oklahoma State. Central Michigan has a couple options in Kelliher and Beebe. Kelliher, an Apple Valley, Minnesota native who comes from a successful wrestling family, wrestled in the dual against Cornell and was pinned by then-No.1 Cam Simaz. He has compiled a record of 8-7 this season after redshirting last season. Beebe is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Body Bar Invitational.

Bottom Line: Yohn is one of the nation's top 197-pounders and will be facing a freshman who is still trying to find his way in Division I wrestling. Look for Minnesota to get bonus points here.

Prediction: Yohn major dec. Kelliher (Minnesota + 4)

285: No. 4 Jarod Trice (Central Michigan) vs. No. 10 Tony Nelson/Ben Berhow (Minnesota)
Trice, a returning All-American, is a skilled big man who began the season ranked No. 2 before losing to American's Ryan Flores in the NWCA All-Star Classic. "Doughboy" started his collegiate wrestling career mostly as a hand fighter, but developed some leg attacks last season and became very tough to beat. He was a Midlands champion last season, which included a victory over 2010 NCAA champion David Zabriskie of Iowa State. He placed eighth in Greco-Roman at the 2010 University World Championships in Italy. Minnesota has a longstanding tradition of producing top heavyweights. Only Oklahoma State has produced more NCAA heavyweight champions. This year the Gophers have two very capable heavyweights in Nelson, a talented freshman, and Berhow, a three-time NCAA qualifier. These two could be battling for the spot all the way up until the Big Ten Championships. Nelson might have a slight edge over Berhow at this point based on his early-season performance.

Bottom Line: it will be interesting to see who Minnesota sends out for this match. Berhow lost two one-point matches to Trice last season, including a 6-5 tiebreaker loss in the match to become an All-American at the NCAAs. A case can be made for Berhow or Nelson getting the call. I'll predict that Nelson gets the opportunity ... and I'll take "Doughboy" in a tight one.

Prediction: Trice dec. Nelson (Central Michigan +3)

Dual Meet Prediction: Minnesota 19, Central Michigan 15


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