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Wrestling: MAC powers to clash in Central Michigan

The past week has been good to Ohio.

Last Friday, it earned its first Mid-American Conference win of the season with a blowout win against Northern Illinois, a dual that included the successful return of All-American redshirt sophomore Cody Walters.

Then, earlier this week, the Bobcats (5-1) broke into the national rankings for the first time this season, earning a No. 25 spot in the latest NCAA polls.

The Bobcats have a lot of momentum heading into the meet of their schedule, and they could need every bit of it as they go to face a MAC powerhouse in Central Michigan on Friday.

“We smell blood with these guys,” redshirt sophomore Phil Wellington said. “This is going to be a big dual. We’re coming off a huge win, and they’re a little beat up and coming off of a loss. We’re ready to go catch them.”

Ohio hasn’t defeated Central Michigan since 2011. The Chippewas won the 14 of the last 16 MAC tournament titles, with 11 of those titles won consecutively.

However, the Chippewas (6-4, 2-1 MAC) are currently coming off a loss against Northern Iowa.

“They’re the program you want to shoot for,” coach Joel Greenlee said. “They’re the team that’s been good for so long, I think they’re the guys that everyone wants to beat.”

Central Michigan has six individuals ranked in the MAC’s January rankings, compared to Ohio’s five. However, the Bobcats claim three number one spots, while the Chippewas have none.

On paper, the dual appears destined to be a back-and-forth battle, with the two teams carrying their weight on opposite ends of the division spectrum. The Chippewas have wrestlers ranked in the nation’s Top-20 in the 125, 133 and 141-pound classes, including No. 9 ranked 141-pound sophomore Zach Horan.

Ohio, meanwhile, has its strength in the heavier classes, with 174-pound Cody Walters, 197-pound Wellington and heavyweight Jeremy Johnson maintaining consistent places in the national spotlight all season.

The biggest match of the entire dual could be in the 174-pound competition, in which No. 7 ranked Walters will take on Central Michigan’s No. 10 ranked junior Mike Ottinger. It will be Walters’ first real challenge after spending most of the season up until now on the sidelines, while Ottinger rolls in with a 14-2 record.

For Ohio, team confidence is bound to be at a new high on Friday, as it appears ready to send out its first injury-free lineup since its second match of the season.

It comes at a perfect time for Ohio, for whom the Central Michigan dual will be the first of a stretch of four duals in ten days.



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