An emotional MAC Championship
Emotions ran high at the Mid-American Conference Championships after one of the Bulls' own was seriously injured. Senior Dan Bishop suffered a spinal cord injury in his 125-pound bout due to an illegal throw by Ohio's Gabe Ramos. The match was immediately called off due to a disqualification and Bishop was awarded the win.
The Bulls (9-7-1, 2-3 MAC), however, continued to compete despite being visibly shaken by their fallen teammate.
"I think under the circumstances, they reacted well," said Bulls head coach Jim Beichner. "They obviously were very concerned for their teammate and I thought they were able to focus throughout the process."
Central Michigan won its ninth consecutive MAC team championship with a 94-point performance. The Bulls finished in fourth place with a score of 60.5 behind Kent State (73) and Ohio (62). Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan rounded out the tournament with fifth and sixth place finishes, respectively.
Sophomore Kevin Smith had to immediately rebound from the sight of his teammate's injury as he went head-to-head with Ohio's Quentin Keyes in the 133-pound bout. Smith secured the win after pinning Keyes just seconds into overtime.
In the following match, Smith fell to Kent State's Danny Mitcheff in a 5-2 bout, but bounced back in the wrestlebacks with a 9-5 victory over Northern Illinois' Tristen DeShazer.
Smith followed up the comeback with a second place finish in the tournament. Central Michigan's Scotti Sentes forfeited his spot in the finals and was replaced by Eastern Michigan's Sean Clair. Smith upended Clair by takedown with a final score of 4-2.
Returning from injury, sophomore Desi Green didn't miss a beat as he defeated Dan Ruettiger of Northern Illinois, 3-2, to earn a spot in the 149-pound championship match.
Green went on to win the championship bout in another 3-2 decision over Ohio's Seth Morton to win the Bulls' first individual MAC wrestling title since 2007. The win automatically qualifies Green for the NCAA championships.
"Not many athletes come back from the [designated] list to win the MAC title," Beichner said. "I'd say he did an awesome job."
Sophomore John-Martin Cannon entered as the second seed in the 165-pound tournament and started off strong with a 9-4 decision victory against Alex Ortman of Eastern Michigan.
However, his good fortune did not carry over into day two.
The sophomore lost in the championship bout against Central Michigan's Tyler Grayson and defaulted due to injury against Kent State's Ross Rice to finish in third place.
Despite the disappointing showing, Cannon earned a wild card spot in the NCAA Division I National Championships at 165 pounds for the first time in his career.
Junior Jimmy Hamel reached the 197-pound championship bout for the second year in a row after upsetting Central Michigan's Eric Simaz with a 3-1 overtime decision in the semifinals. In the championship bout, however, Hamel lost in a 2-0 decision to Ohio's Erik Schuth.
"It was an emotional rollercoaster of a weekend for our guys," Beicher said. "To me, it was one of the most emotional, difficult weekends of my career."
Along with Cannon, Smith will make his first appearance at the National Championships, while Green and Hamel will make their second straight showing. The four qualifiers match the most wrestlers the Bulls have sent to a Division I National Championship under Beichner and is the second most in school history.
The championships begin March 18 at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb., and run through March 20.