Ben Bennett Hired As Head Wrestling Coach Of Central Michigan University

Ben Bennett Hired As Head Wrestling Coach Of Central Michigan University

Ben Bennett has been announced as the next head wrestling coach of Central Michigan University.

Apr 23, 2024 by FloWrestling Staff
Ben Bennett Hired As Head Wrestling Coach Of Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University has announced Ben Bennett as the head wrestling coach on Tuesday morning. Bennett was a four-time All-American for Central Michigan as a student-athlete and served as an assistant coach for the Chippewas for the past 11 seasons under long-time head coach Tom Borelli. For more information on Bennett's hiring, read the full release below from Central Michigan University's Athletic Department:

By: Andy Sneddon

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- A familiar name and face and a legendary figure in Central Michigan athletics will head the storied Chippewa wrestling program.

Ben Bennett, the only four-time All-American in Central Michigan wrestling history, a longtime assistant coach, and a member of the Marcy Weston CMU Athletics Hall of Fame, was named on Tuesday to succeed his mentor, Tom Borrelli, who retired in March after heading the program for 33 years.

"Ben Bennett was a standout student-athlete here at Central Michigan and he has played a critical role in the success of our wrestling program while serving under and alongside coach Borrelli," Zyzlewski Family Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Amy Folan said in announcing Bennett's appointment.

"Ben epitomizes everything that it means to be a Chippewa. His career on the mat speaks for itself, and he has been an outstanding representative of the athletic department, the university, and the community during his time here as a coach."

Bennett, 34, joined Borrelli's staff prior to the 2013-14 season and was promoted to associate head coach in 2022-23. He is the sixth coach in program history and its first new leader since Borrelli was named to head the program in 1991.

"It's always been my goal to be a college wrestling coach since I was in middle school," Bennett said. "I had a great experience here, I loved it, I loved wrestling for coach Borrelli, and I was fortunate that when I graduated in 2013 we had an open coaching position that gave me the opportunity to stay.

"Once I was here, it became my home. There have been opportunities along the way, here and there, to leave, but I've long felt like this was the place that would best prepare me to be a head coach. Working with coach Borrelli, I felt like what I was going to learn from him was going to hard to beat compared to anywhere else I could have gone."

Bennett, who earned a bachelor of science degree with a major in sociology from CMU in 2013, is the fourth current CMU coach to have worn maroon and gold as a student-athlete. The others are director of track & field/cross country Jenny Swieton, baseball coach Jake Sabol, and gymnastics coach Christine MacDonald.

Bennett helped lead the Chippewas to a first-place finish in the 2024 Mid-American Conference Championships as eight Chippewas placed in the top three of their respective weight classes and three qualified for the NCAA Championships.

CMU is expected to return nearly all of its starters in 2024-25.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity, thankful they chose me, I'm excited to work with the group of guys we have," Bennett said. "We have a motivated group of individuals, they're enjoyable to be around and that's exciting knowing you have that and that's what you get to come in and work with every day. That motivates me."

With Bennett on the bench for 11 seasons, seven times a Chippewa has earned All-America honors and 14 times a CMU wrestler has captured a MAC title.

"Loyalty," Borrelli said when asked what pops immediately to mind when he thinks of Bennett. "As long as I've been doing this – and Ben's been here 15 or 16 years, first as a student-athlete and then as an assistant coach – he's been as loyal to Central Michigan University and our program as anyone.

"We've had people with the same type of credentials, the same type of pedigree, who haven't stayed here. Central Michigan and this program has meant a lot to Ben.

"He has the qualities of all the great kids, the great athletes, who have come through this program. He has the ability to see a goal and work tirelessly towards it. He's not going to get frustrated, he's not going to be intimidated, and he's not going to give up and that's what it takes to be successful. There's no doubt that he'll be successful.

"I'm very, very happy for him. He's put almost two decades into this university and this wrestling program. I'm really happy that it's someone who has the deep ties to CMU that he does."

A native of Rockford, Mich., Bennett is one of three Chippewas to have earned four MAC individual titles. As a freshman in 2010, he earned All-America honors with a sixth-place finish at 174 pounds at the NCAA Championships. He repeated as an All-American in 2011 (eighth), 2012 (sixth, 184), and 2013 (fourth, 184).

Bennett twice earned the Chick Sherwood Award as CMU's most valuable wrestler, was named the MAC Wrestler of the Year in 2012, and in 2010 earned the MAC Freshman of the Year Award. He was inducted into the Marcy Weston CMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2023.

Bennett ranks seventh in CMU history with 121 career victories (against 24 losses) and his career win percentage, .834, is fourth all-time. In 2013, he finished 31-2 for a .939 win percentage, the second best in program history. He also won a school-record 30 consecutive matches during that season.

Bennett was married last summer to longtime girlfriend Erica (Garwood), a former CMU field hockey player who works as a school counselor Mount Pleasant Public Schools.

Bennett takes over a program that has long been the class of the MAC under Borrelli, one of the most highly respected names nationally in college wrestling.

"Having the opportunity to stay here, be the head coach here, to follow in (Borrelli's) footsteps means everything," Bennett said. "I love this place, I love the community, my wife and I are entrenched here.

"Eleven years coaching alongside Tom Borrelli and to be mentored by him, I learned and saw how he does things, how he interacted with student-athletes. You can't put a price on the experience you gain from working under a guy like Tom."