Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
CLEVELAND - Central Michigan's last hope for an All-America wrestler went by the wayside Friday night when Justin Oliver dropped a 9-4 decision in a 149-pound consolation-bracket match to Oklahoma State's Boo Lewallen at the NCAA Championships at Quicken Loans Arena.
A win would have guaranteed Oliver All-America status. Instead, his season ended for the second-consecutive year one step from the podium.
"There's so many highs and lows in this sport, it's unbelievable," CMU coach Tom Borrelli said. "And it's all very personal. That's the toughest part about it. You can't really point the finger at anybody, can't blame it on a teammate or anything. It's personal."
Lewallen, a sophomore, scored an early takedown and led 3-2 after the first period and 4-2 heading into the third.
"The kid tied (Oliver) up, took a lot of things that he's real good at away from him," Borrelli said. "The kid just wrestled a real smart tactical match against him and he just couldn't get to any of his offense."
Oliver, a junior who finished 28-7, was the last of CMU's seven national qualifiers to leave the tournament. Four Chippewas, Mason Smith (141), CJ Brucki (174), Jordan Ellingwood (185) and Oliver, made it to the second day of the tournament.
Both Brucki and Ellingwood lost matches to the top-seeded wrestler in their respective weight classes, and another Chippewa, senior Colin Heffernan (157), lost a match to the defending national champion.
"We were in some real tough situations," Borrelli said. "When you put yourself in a situation where you're wrestling the No. 1 or 2 seed in the second-round of the tournament, and then you've got to win three matches against real quality competition -- you've got to be real sharp. It's disappointing that we weren't able to overcome some of that. We had some bright spots too."
Five of the seven Chippewas won at least one match in the tournament. Oliver finished 3-2, while Brucki went 2-2. Brucki, Ellingwood and Heffernan are seniors, while Smith is a sophomore, Jordan Atienza is a junior, and Matt Stencel is a redshirt freshman.
"The best thing about this tournament, although it's not a positive, it really accentuates your weaknesses," Borrelli said. "All the flaws that you have they come right to the forefront. It gives you a good idea what you need to do to get better. It's just whether the athletes will accept that and work hard. They've got to internalize it and it's got to be important to them to be successful here."