original photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com
With this year’s dual only format, it will be challenging for wrestlers to rack up more than one ranked win per day. There are no Midlands, CKLV, or Scuffle’s to pad the stats. That makes it even more remarkable when an athlete like Matt Stencel of Central Michigan notches a pair of victories over top-ten opponents in a single day. The fourth-ranked Stencel had quite the test on Friday as his Chippewas traveled to MAC superpower Missouri for a tri-meet with the Tigers and Wyoming. #9 Zach Elam was Mizzou’s representative at 285 lbs, while the Cowboys had #10 Brian Andrews.
Stencel’s afternoon started with a 4-1 win over Elam. The turning point in this bout came late in the first period with the CMU big man relentlessly finishing a leg attack that momentarily put Elam on his back; however, the Tiger sophomore was able to scramble out of danger and nearly avoided surrendering any points. Stencel did earn the takedown and was able to ride out Elam for the remainder of the first period. An escape in the second and more riding in the third proved to be enough for an additional point for Stencel.
Matt wasn’t out of the woods yet, as Andrews was next in line. Like his match against Elam, Stencel struck late in the opening period and was able to ride his opponent out for the duration of the first. The second period saw Stencel earn a point for an escape and deftly fight off a takedown attempt from the Cowboy. In the third, after an Andrews escape, Stencel was immediately on the offensive and garnered his second takedown of the match. He added a point after a second stall call on Andrews and another for riding time to prevail, 7-1.
Stencel is a senior who has qualified for the NCAA Championships on three occasions. Each time he has captured a MAC title along the way. In 2019, Matt earned All-American honors for the first time after receiving the ninth seed in Pittsburgh. Last season, he was seeded fifth and named a first-team All-American by the NWCA. Matt’s 30-4 record propelled him to be recognized as the MAC’s Wrestler of the Year and he is the first multiple-time All-American for CMU since 2013. He finished his 2019-20 campaign on a 13-match winning streak and was among the national fall leaders with 15. For his career, Stencel has pinned 50 opponents.