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Wrestling: 'Cats fall to Chippewas, drop first MAC match

Certain teams are fortunate enough to be good for so long that, not only do they find themselves with a target on their backs, but they grow accustomed to that target and continue to win in spite of everyone else aiming to dethrone them.

Central Michigan is one of those teams, and it knew for certain that Ohio would be firing at that target with everything it had.

Unfortunately for the Bobcats, it wasn’t enough, as they fell to the Chippewas 19-15. Ohio’s record fell to 5-2 overall, 1-2 in the MAC.

“We didn’t go through each match individually and say ‘this is a match we should win, this is a match we should lose, this one’s a toss-up,’ and that may have been a mistake,” coach Joel Greenlee said. “We scouted them, but we didn’t specifically say which matches we were going to need. I don’t know whether or not that was the right way to go, but it may have been why we didn’t get the results we wanted.”

Central Michigan raced out to a quick 7-0 lead after the first two matches, earning decisions in the 133 and 141-pound divisions. Ohio’s No. 15 ranked junior Tywan Claxton put the Bobcats on the board with a 3-1 decision in the 149-pound class, and began a span of four matches in which the two teams traded wins back and forth.

Redshirt junior Harrison Hightower, a 165-pound wrestler, was the next Bobcat to win a match, earning a 4-0 decision. After Hightower’s match brought Ohio’s deficit to 10-6, the Chippewas nailed down victories in each of the next two matches, bringing their lead to 16-6 with three matches remaining.

Ohio made a strong comeback in the next two matches, with 197-pound redshirt sophomore Phil Wellington winning his match to cut the deficit to 16-9, followed by 285-pound redshirt senior Jeremy Johnson pinning his opponent to bring the score all the way back to 16-15.

The final match of the dual was the 125-pound match, which pit Ohio’s KeVon Powell against Central Michigan’s No. 12 ranked Corey Keener. Powell was able to force overtime in the match before allowing Keener to claim a 3-1 sudden victory.

“That’s just the situation that (Powell) wanted to be in,” Greenlee said. “He wrestled a great match, going up against one of the top ranked guys in the country and forcing it into overtime. In all honesty, I think that gave him a lot of confidence that he can wrestle with anyone out there.”

Ohio won’t have much time to reflect on what was a disappointing loss to one of its biggest rivals. The Bobcats spring right back into action Sunday at home, with a 2:00pm dual against Eastern Michigan (8-4, 1-1).

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