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  • Photo: Cleveland State Athletics

    Photo: Cleveland State Athletics

    Five MAC Standouts from the Weekend (12/11/23)

    We’re into a strange part of the college wrestling season. A week-plus removed from the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, so some teams sat the weekend out after a brutal tournament. Many schools are in the process of final exams, so their focus is on the classroom. Then the holidays are right around the corner. 

    After that we have the traditional tournaments Midlands/Scuffle and get into a more regular dual schedule. But for now, there are weekends like this past one, where some teams are in action, while others are idle. 

    That was the case for the MAC who didn’t have a full slate of competition for the week. Even so, there were enough MAC teams in action to produce some impressive performances. 

    Here are five that stood out from this last weekend of action:

    Sean Spidle (Central Michigan) 

    For the most part, the strength of the Central Michigan lineup has resided in the middle with veterans like Corbyn Munson, Johnny Lovett, and Alex Cramer. That being said, the Chips leadoff hitter, 125 lber Sean Spidle, has started to show some consistency and has begun to string solid wins together. On Saturday, he staked CMU to an early lead with his 2-1 victory in a defensive struggle against Indiana’s Michael Spangler. The win marked his second consecutive triumph over a Big Ten opponent. In his last outing, Spidle shut out Illinois’ national qualifier Justin Cardani. In Saturday’s dual against the undefeated Hoosiers, Spidle and 133 lber Vince Perez turned in back-to-back wins, which brought the prospect of an upset into reality. Unfortunately, a fall in the 141 lb bout and a win by Indiana in the highly anticipated 149 lb contest, put the momentum back in the Hoosiers favor. Spidle should get tested in CMU’s next outing, The Midlands, where over a dozen ranked 125 lbers could enter. 


    Hosts winning the Cleveland State Open

    The biggest tournament on the DI calendar this weekend was the Cleveland State Open, a tournament that had a handful of full DI teams on its entry list, along with some high-profile redshirts from Big Ten programs. The host school finished with an impressive three champions. Doug Terry (149 lbs), Ben Smith (197 lbs), and Daniel Bucknavich (285 lbs) all finished the day unbeaten and atop their respective brackets. 

    Terry was tested early with decision wins in his first two matches; however, he turned it on as the tournament progressed and closed the day with back-to-back major decisions. In the semis, he blanked Samuel Cartella (Northwestern), a top-100 recruit in 2023 for the Wildcats. For the title, Terry dominated Matthew Williams (Army West Point), an opponent who had previously appeared in the national rankings. 

    The 32nd-ranked Smith took care of business as you would expect him to against a field of unranked competitors. Like Terry, Smith’s first match of the day was his closest. A third-period takedown propelled him past MAC opponent Jack Kilner (Edinboro). From there, the rout was on. In Smith’s final three matches, he won via major decision. He is now 9-3 on the season. 

    The Vikings big man, Bucknavich, closed the tournament with a title. His path to the title was different from his fellow champions. Bucknavich had to grind out close wins in each of his final three matches. In the quarters, he prevailed 2-1 over Central Michigan’s Caden Ferris. A match later he got by Ira Jenkins (Michigan), 2-0. For the championship, Bucknavich needed some last-second heroics, as he got a takedown and backpoints in the closing seconds to get by Lucas Stoddard (Army West Point), 9-5. Stoddard was the second seed and is on the cusp of breaking into the national rankings. 

    The Vikings will squeeze one more dual into 2023, as they’ll face MAC foe Clarion. These three wrestlers should all face significant tests from the Golden Eagles. After that dual, they’ll close out the year at the Midlands. 


    Wyatt Henson (Lock Haven)

    Lock Haven sent Wyatt Henson to the Cleveland State Open wrestling unattached and plenty of football teams would have been jealous of Henson’s scoring output. Henson came away with the title at 141 lbs and did so in a very impressive fashion. In five matches, Henson accrued an even 100 points and tallied four tech falls. Henson’s biggest scare came in the quarterfinals when he emerged from a 7-4 first-period hole to prevail 13-12. In about where both wrestlers earned three takedowns, it was riding time that made the difference for Henson. 

    After the close call in the quarterfinals, Henson cruised with a 22-4 tech over Patrick Jordon (VMI) in the semis and a 25-9 tech over Logan Brown (Army West Point). 

    Henson has yet to officially compete for Lock Haven. All of his damage, and there’s been a lot of it, has been done in the open tournaments. At this time, the school is working through some eligibility issues. For the year, Henson has amassed a 15-1 record with three tournament titles (Shorty Hitchcock and Mat-Town Open’s). 


    Sal Perrine (Ohio)

    Two-time national qualifier Sal Perrine got off to a slow start this season with a 2-2 day at the season-opening Southeast Open. He’d finish November off with a dual loss, then a single win at the Navy Classic. December has been a different story for Perrine. Perrine posted an excellent fifth-place finish at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational during the first two days of the month. In Vegas, he avenged a loss at the Southeast Open (Austin Murphy - Campbell), then took out a pair of impressive rookies (Lorenzo Norman - Stanford and Brayden Thompson - Oklahoma State). 

    They say “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” but the momentum created by the Bobcat junior carried over through this weekend. Perrine was able to knock off #20 Danny Wask (Navy) during Sunday’s dual between Ohio and the Midshipmen. Though the two didn’t meet, Wask finished a step above Perrine on the CKLV podium, in fourth place. 

    Looking at Ohio’s schedule, Perrine has tune-ups against Drexel and Gardner-Webb, before finishing 2023 at the Midlands. Though the Midlands field is expected to be very stout, Perrine could be a bracket-buster if his current winning ways continue.


    Colton Washleski and Jake Silverstein (Rider)

    During Saturday’s dual with #29 Wisconsin, Rider had upset on their minds and almost pulled it off. The Broncs were in a position to pull the stunner after the work of their middleweights, specifically, Colton Washleski and Jake Silverstein at 157 and 165 lbs, respectively. Through the first four bouts, Wisconsin appeared to be running away with the dual; leading 11-3. Major decisions at the first two weights gave the Badgers a healthy lead. Washleski and Silverstein responded with majors of their own to tie the bout at 11, which gave the Broncs upperweights a chance to win. 

    Washleski downed Luke Mechler 12-4 and Silverstein was a 10-2 winner over Gavin Model. Ultimately, an overtime loss at 184 lbs and a 197 lb match that was much closer than the 13-5 score indicates sealed Rider’s fate. 

    This year has been a breakout for Washleski, who was 6-16 last season as a redshirt freshman. So far, he’s 12-2 with a title at the Patriot Open to his name. Silverstein was a national qualifier in 2021 and is looking to get back in his final year of eligibility. He started the year at 157 lbs (and lost to Washleski at the Princeton Open), but now appears to have found a home at 165 lbs. 

    Rider is off for the remainder of 2023, but will ring in the New Year with a Friday/Sunday series against Northern Illinois and Rutgers. Though the Bronc’s current 1-3 record might be unsightly, all three of their losses have come against Big Ten competition. They will likely benefit from those contests once they get into the thick of the MAC schedule.

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