David Wade and Nick Whitenburg placed second in their respective divisions for Eastern Michigan wrestling team, as it opened its season Saturday by hosting the 18th annual EMU Open at Bowen Field House.
EMU’s competition included several Big Ten teams, Northwestern, Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State and Illinois.
“The competition this year was much better than years before,” said EMU senior Justin Brandel, who placed fifth in the 165-pound open division. “Given the competition, our team did very well.”
The competition didn’t seem to shake Wade, a heavyweight senior (open), and Whitenburg, a 184-pound freshman in the freshman/sophomore division.
Wade won by decision in his first three matches. In the final, however, he lost to U-M’s Eddie Phillips, 3-1. Whitenburg won his first three matches, too, before losing in the final to U-M’s Hunter Collins, 7-4.
“Nick did really well in the freshman-sophomore division, but the performance of the day was Chris Jenkins,” EMU coach Derek DelPorto said.
“Chris beat two top-20 wrestlers in the country, Ohio State’s Nikko Triggas, and (Eric) Olanowski from Michigan State. Both of these wrestlers were national qualifiers last year.”
EMU senior Chris Jenkins finished third in the 125-pound open division, with his only loss against Eric Morrill from Edinboro (Pa.), 3-2. Junior Andrew Novak placed third in the 133-pound open division.
In the freshmen-sophomore division, EMU freshmen Mike LeHolm (141) and Phillip Joseph (174) overcame first-round losses to place third and fourth place, respectively. At one point, LeHolm had six consecutive victories and Joseph had five.
“Today’s results had a lot to do with our conditioning,” EMU senior J.J. Johnson said. “As a team, we wrestled as well as I have ever seen us wrestle in a long while. I’m looking forward to what the season has to offer our boys.”
DelPorto, who is in his fourth year, said this season looks promising.
“It was the first tourney of the year, and there is much more to come,” he said. “I’m excited for the year, with the level that our boys are capable of reaching, and if we stay healthy, there is no way we won’t finish in the top 25.”
The team travels to Evanston, Ill., for the Northwestern Duals on Saturday. The Eagles will play Northern Iowa University and St. Cloud University.