Friday, January 22, 2010

Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

Sorry about the lack of posting for the last few weeks, but the high school season has been incredibly busy lately, and the Virginia duals would have been a lot of work to recap to highlight almost zero interesting things.

Tonight, Michigan will be taking on the Iowa Hawkeyes at Cliff Keen Fieldhouse. Conference play means the season is starting to wind down, Michigan will wrestle each conference team once, then wrestle in the Big-10 Championship tournament, then any of Michigan's national qualifiers will go on to wrestle at the NCAA Championship tournament. Hopefully I can find a way to put the NCAA qualifying process into print somewhere between now and then, but for now, lets focus on the Hawkeyes.

Iowa is the current #1 team in the country, defending national champs, and is riding a 52 dual meet winning streak. They are very, very good. This will be, by far, the toughest competition Michigan faces this year, as Iowa is incredibly strong throughout their entire lineup.

125: #4 Matt McDonough (Iowa) - Sean Boyle (Mich): A showdown between 2 highly touted young wrestler, McDonough being a rsFr., Michigan probably isn't going to win. McDonough is one of college wrestling's top newcomers, where Boyle has struggled slightly to adjust to the college game. A Major would be nice here, but it's probably going to be a tech or a pin.
Iowa 6 - Michigan 0

133: #6 Daniel Dennis (Iowa) - Zac Stevens (Mich): Dennis is an interesting story, a 4 time place-winner in high school, he never won a state title, and was always a journeyman type wrestler until he broke out last year, and was ranked as high as #1 for parts of the season. Stevens will have trouble beating him, but both are very sound, technical wrestlers. Dennis isn't a pinner, and Stevens isn't one to get pinned, or even teched, so even though Dennis wins, I can't see it being more than a major.
Iowa 10 - Michigan 0

#7 Montell Marion (Iowa) - Mark Weber (Mich): Weber has been a bit of a disappointment this year, and has gotten pinned by a few highly ranked opponents he has faced. Marion was unranked until recently, when he shutout the then #5 wrestler in the country, and shot up to #7. Despite Weber's early pins, wrestlers like Marion who come out of nowhere are almost never big pinners, so a Major is the most likely outcome.
Iowa 14 - Michigan 0

#1 Brent Metcalf (Iowa) - ??? (Mich): I have no idea who Michigan will throw out here, as the usual 149'r, Beaudry, is apparantly injured. It will not matter, this is 6 for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa 20 - Michigan 0

Aaron Janssen (Iowa) - Mark Boyer (Mich): Just our luck, Iowa's first unranked wrestler will likely be wrestling Dave Johnson's backup, as Johnson got injured at the Virginia Duals. I have no idea by how much Iowa will win this match, but it's very unlikely that a backup at a spot Michigan has struggled at lately will knock off one of Iowa's starters, so I'll just go with a decision.
Iowa 23 - Michigan 0

#5 Ryan Morningstar (Iowa) - Aaron Hynes (Mich): The hits just keep coming, as one of Michigan's better wrestlers gets matched up against one of Iowa's toughest. Morningstar is incredibly talented, but I don't think he can get any more than a major on Hynes, who should be able to stay in it, mainly thanks to his ability on top and as a shooter.
Iowa 27 - Michigan 0

#2 Jay Borschel (Iowa) - #16 Justin Zeerip (Mich): Hey, look, a ranked Michigan wrestler! In what will probably be the best match of the day, 2 former 4 time state champs should face off here. Borschel will probably end up the winner, but Zeerip is really coming into his own, and certainly has the tools to get the win, Borschel is just so much more experienced its very unlikely. No more than a decision here though, Zeerip is tough as nails and should hang with him the whole match.
Iowa 30 - Michigan 0

#9 Phil Keddy (Iowa) - Hunter Collins (Mich): It's a little strange to see Keddy down at #9, as the past two years he has finished 4th and 6th at the NCAA's. Collins is starting to develop nicely, but still can't compete with the big dogs, as evidenced by his 20-5 tech fall loss to #5 Dustin Kilgore. Probably somewhere near the same result here, a Tech fall.
Iowa 35 - Michigan 0

#9 Anthony Biondo (Mich) - Luke Lofthouse (Iowa): Wow, a matchup we are favored in. In case this seems wrong to anyone, its because normal Iowa starter Chad Beatty, currently ranked #4, is recovering from a foot injury suffered early in the year. Thank god he is, because this is one of Michigan's only opportunities for points. Biondo should major Lofthouse, although Lofthouse showed some spunk last weekend against #7 Alan Gelogaev of Okie St. At least I hope so.
Iowa 35 - Michigan 4

Blake Rasin (Iowa) - Ben Apland (Mich): I'm not sure what to think of this matchup, Iowa's starting HWY, a returning All-American, has been out for quite a while, and Apland has only been inserted into the lineup this year. Apland has a lot of potential, and I think we will see that against Rasin. The biggest case for a Rasin win is his 7-5 loss to #1 Jared Rosholt, where he took Rosholt down twice. This match will either be a decision or a pin, as a lot of HWY matches are, and I think Rasin probably comes out on top.
Iowa 38 - Michigan 4

Well that looks horrifying. I'd tell you to come out and watch, but really, this is going to be a bloodbath. Iowa is just so deep, that even with 2 wrestlers who would have been All-Americans out, and a National Champ that got kicked off the team earlier, they are still the best team in the country.

This meet will not be televised, which might be a good thing, although it will be covered online at For those of you interested in Michigan High School wrestling, 2 of the top teams in the state, St. Johns, and my boys, Richmond, will be wrestling before the MSU-Minnesota meet tonight, and from what I have heard it will be broadcast somehow. I'll probably tweet any info on finding that later, if anyone is interested. There will be some prospects to watch there, most from St. Johns as Richmond's real asset is their depth, most notably Taylor Massa, Jordan Wohlfert, Jacob Schmitt, and Brant Schafer, although Brian Henke from Richmond is definetly a D1 prospect.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Michigan at the Southern Scuffle

Last week saw a ton of great Individual wrestling tournaments, from the Goodrich TOC and Brecksville Holiday Tournament in high school, to the Midlands and Southern Scuffle in the college ranks. Michigan was involved in 2, with the actual team wrestling at Southern Scuffle, and a future wolverine wrestling at the Goodrich TOC. I'll post the team results from the Scuffle for each wrestler, and hopefully later on Sunday I'll put together some scouting stuff from the TOC on Michigan's lone commitment there, and some of the wrestlers who will be on their radar.

Sean Boyle: Boyle was drawn in and on a rat-tail, so it was very surprising to see him wrestle his way all the way to the quarterfinals, upsetting 10 seed Tyler Sim of the Citadel, 4-3. 3 seed and #3 ranked Zach Sanders handed him his first loss with a pin at 6:19 in the match. He was also pinned his next match by unranked Eric Chandler, this time at 4:59, one win away from placing. Neither loss is anything to be ashamed of, as they took 3rd and 8th, respectively, with Sanders cruising through every opponent other than tournament champ and former national champ Angel Escebado. Boyle is showing consistent improvement, and his inability to hang with the big boys at the moment should become a distant memory as he becomes more adjusted to the college style.

Zac Stevens: Stevens apparently is trying to cement himself as grittiest athlete ever. He won his first 2 matches at the Scuffle 3-2 and 7-6, before losing in the quarter finals 8-6 to unranked Jordan Thome from Army, who took 6th. He then lost his first match in the blood rounds, 7-4 to Ashton Osterberg of North Carolina, who finished 8th. Sad to see another wrestler make it to the quarterfinals only to lose 2 straight and not place, but it was still better than what was expected, especially after his struggles last year. Coach McFarland might have a tough decision next year between the seasoned veteran Stevens and the super talented Eric Grajales.

Mark Weber: Weber went 3-2 down south, but because he was in a rat-tail to start the tournament, and lost early, didn't advance all that far. He got some good experience, and had a lot of high scoring matches, meaning his neutral wrestling is improving, but really didn't do a whole lot. The 2 biggest things I see are his total ass-whooping of someone from App. State, and Brennan Brumley placing ahead of him. Seriously, Brumley lost in a rat-tail and then destroyed everyone up until the consolation round of 16. The moral of the story is that Macomb County is badass.

149: I...can't find a 149 pounder on the bracket. It's the most crowded bracket of the tournament, but I still can't find a Michigan entrant. It's very possible they just didn't take one.

Dave Johnson: Poor Dave Johnson, he has one of his best tournaments and yet only gets 8th place out of it because he draws into the 1 seed right after his rat-tail match. He won the first 13-3, but then was promptly teched by #3 in the country Matt Moley from Bloomsburg. This weight was probably the craziest in the tournament, as Moley ended up taking 4th, after being knocked off by Kurt Kisner, who Aaron Hynes knocked off last year. Johnson then proceeded on a run that challenged Zac Stevens for "grittiest grit of the day", a winning streak composed of a fall, then a 6-5 decision, a 5-3 decision in sudden death overtime, a 9-8 decision, and then consecutive 5-4 losses that saw him finish in 8th place. His losses on the day took 4th, 6th, and 7th respectively. Just a ballsy run for Johnson, who I really want to see wrestle now.

Aaron Hynes: This bloggers personal favorite went 2-2, winning 4-1 and 3-0 decisions over unranked and non-placing wrestlers, losing a 3-2 decision to another non-placer, and losing 8-0 to #10 Chris Brown of Old Dominion. Not an awful tournament, although I really hoped he would perform better. I'm starting to think Hynes is my Zach Gibson, he shows great flashes, but so far thats all they've been, flashes. Hopefully he puts it all together sometime in the next year or so, he's not immensely talented, but he can be more than he has shown so far.

Justin Zeerip: Another Michigan wrestler who wrestled his way to the Quarterfinals but then failed to place, although his is more due to bad luck than anything else. Zeerip won his first 2 matches which placed him in the quarterfinals against gloriously named but unranked Bagna Tovuujav of George Mason, where he lost 4-3. He then dropped down to face Scott Glasser, who was making a miracle run to 3rd place after dropping his very first match, and lost 3-1. Like most of the team, Zeerip just hasn't put the whole package together, although his talent really sticks out amongst this group of wrestlers. It's just a matter of getting the confidence to use that ability and really open up. When he does, he will challenge for All-American status, he is just too naturally gifted and hard working not to.

Erich Smith: Smith went 1-2 on the day, winning 5-4 over Joe Budi and then dropping the next 2 matches. Smith was actually double entered on the day, both fairly close decisions. Smith gets a short writeup because the other 184 pounder had the better day, and probably earned himself a serious look at the starting job.

Hunter Collins: Collins had a quick exit from the tournament, but not after making some major noise, knocking off 8 seed and #20 Ben Clymer from Hofstra 13-3, then beating an unattached wrestler 12-2. He went on to lose his next 2 matches, both decisions to unranked wrestlers, but beating up on Clymer is a good sign for the future of a wrestler who could be very important. Also, Collins is in the bracket as "Hunter Montoya", because his full last name is Collins-Montoya, but since he is on's roster as Collins, that is how he will be referred to in all posts.

Anthony Biondo: Biondo keeps proving he's the best wrestler the team has this year, taking 3rd place overall, thanks to a 6-4 loss in sudden death to unranked Erik Schuth of Ohio. Despite the disappointing loss in the sems, Biondo rebounded nicely, beating #13 Jesse Strawn of Old Dominion 8-3 in the consolation sems, then beating #14 Dennis Drury of North Carolina 15-8 in the 3rd place match. Perhaps if he wasn't boned on the seeding, receiving the 3 seed despite a head to head victory this year over 1 seed and eventual champ Cam Simaz. Seeing Simaz win wasn't all that bad though, as he does hail from Allegan, MI.

Eddie Phillips: Phillips went 0-2...the only noteable thing is his loss to former teammate of Simaz at Allegan, Dan Craig.

Ben Apland: As disappointing as Phillips day was, Apland's was just about that good. He started out strong, with a pin and an 11-3 major decision, before dropping a match 6-5 to Christopher Bercher of Edinboro, who eventually took 3rd. It looked like Apland got another bad draw, as he fell into a matchup with #10 Ben Berhow of Minnesota, but he was able to take him down 3 times in the first and finish the match off with a big pin. He dropped his next match 3-1 in sudden death to David Morgan of Cal St. Bakersfield. Despite not placing, Berhow is a huge win for Apland, and not just catching him in a bad position, but taking him down multiple times and then pinning him. Apland is another one of those guys who has the potential to be a very good wrestler, but just isn't experienced enough in big matches to have put all the tools together yet. Hopefully this win will help nudge him in that direction

Overall, the team finished 14th, which isn't good, but certainly better than I expected them to. They haven't quite turned it around yet, and realistically that will have to wait until next season when they can get Russel and Grajales and Yates on the mat, but the younger wrestlers are starting to adjust to the college game, and the older wrestlers are starting to win the close matches against equal competition that they will need to win in order to really compete at a national level. Most of the wrestlers starting for Michigan have the talent and the technical knowledge to compete at the national level, and even for All-American status, it's now up to the coaching staff to show them that. So much of wrestling is confidence, confidence that you can choose down and get the one point escape, confidence that you can take a less than perfect shot and still finish it. If McFarland and Co. can get some of their wrestlers to open up a little more against the big boys, the ceiling for this team goes up a little, but the ceiling for next year and the following years skyrockets.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Michigan goes 1-1, Noone is surprised.

Michigan 22, Newberry 13
Michigan 9, Kent State 28

Sunday, Michigan wrestled its last meet before taking a break for Christmas, and again I cannot find video of it. This should get a lot better during the actual Big 10 season, as they do a decent job providing wrestling coverage, either on tv or online, as should any preview posts, which are a lot easier when I already know most of a teams lineup. Not that there would be a whole lot to watch here, Michigan beat a very good DII team in Newberry, 22-13, then lost to a pretty good DI team in Kent State, 23-9. Not a bad day really, Newberry is actually a decent test for some of the wrestlers, and Kent has some very good wrestlers and one outstanding one. On to the bullet points.

Sean Boyle: Boyle had his first 2-0 day Sunday, earning decisions over Troy Opfer of Kent State and DII #3 Matt Oliver. Pretty good day for Boyle, who has been struggling to adjust to college wrestling so far. They might not be great wins, but they are wins you can build on, and thats what this team needs the most right now, some serious building.

Zac Stevens: Steven's continues to wrestle tough, going 1-1 for the day, winning a 9-3 decision over Newberry's Sheridan Moran, and losing a 10-5 decision to #11 Danny Mitcheff of Kent State. I've really been impressed by Steven's this year, he's wrestled tough in every match, most of which, if not all, have been decisions. Judging from the score it looks like Mitcheff scored pretty well on his feet, but Stevens didn't give up any back points and was able to save team points by keeping him to only a decision. It takes a lot of pride and toughness to fight like that for 7 minutes against a more talented opponenent, especially when your team doesn't really have a realistic shot to win the meet, and that kind of toughness is a great thing to have on a wrestling team.

Mark Weber: Ugh, Weber had a frustrating day. He gave up 4 points, yet lost 2 matches, 2-1 to Deral Brown of Newberry, and 2-0 to Chase Skonieczn of Kent State. I guess its nice that he kept it close, but he's a sophomore, who was a 4 time state champ in high school. You'd like him to beat the mediocre kids, or at least take them down. Hopefully he does manage to put it together and become an NCAA qualifier type wrestler, I loved his offense in high school. I do love me some knee picks.

Mark Beaudry: Beaudry was another wrestler who went 0-2, dropping a 16-6 major decision to Latra Collick of Newberry and getting pinned in 4:46 by #11 Matt Cathell of Kent State.

Dave Johnson: Johnson went 1-1 Sunday, both of which were fairly close matches. He opened by defeating Mike Rogers of Newberry 4-1, and then dropped a 7-4 decision to Mallie Schuster of Kent State. Decent wrestling by Johnson here, nothing to get overly excited about, but solid, he beat a wrestler he should beat and was in the match against someone that was a little better than him.

Aaron Hynes: Hynes was the 2nd Wolverine to go 2-0, majoring Newberry's Josh Whitelock 16-4 and beating Kent State's Ross Trice 7-5. Definetly a good day for Hynes, he dominated an inferior wrestler and then was able to come up in crunch time against an opponent at about his level. Just another step in the building process for the program, as Hynes isn't really an All-American threat yet, but he might have a better record at NCAA's this year than he did last.

Justin Zeerip: Zeerip was, hands down, the most impressive Wolverine wrestler in either match. Against Newberry he pinned Curtis Chenoweth, 3:39 in, and then proceeded to tear up Keith witt of Kent State, 7-1, one takedown short of a major. Zeerip really is progressing nicely this year, when it opened it looked as though he couldn't shake the dissapointment of his freshman year, but he has really come on lately. If he can harness his ability, he will be an All-American caliber athlete, as he has talent to spare.

Hunter Collins & Erich Smith: Collins and Smith both competed at 184 and 197 on Sunday. Due to the abscence of Anthony Biondo, sidelined with a knee injury, Michigan had to bump one of their 184 Lb'ers up to 197 for both the meet against Kent State and Newberry. Early results were promising, as Collins scored 8 3rd period points on DII #2 Bryant Blanton to close the match at 184 to a one point, 12-11 decision by the end, and Smith took DII #1 Keeno Griffin to Sudden Victory overtime before losing 2-1 at 197. They couldn't hang with Kent States uppers though, Smith was pinned at 184 by #3 Dustin Kilgore, and Collins was handily defeated, 15-6, by Adam Cogar.

Ben Apland: Highly touted Hwy recruit Ben Apland made his dual meet debut sunday, notching a 7-1 decision over Newberry's Steven Butler, and losing 5-3 to #19 Brendan Barlow of Kent State. Pretty good debut if you ask me, fairly dominant first match and a very close match to a ranked wrestler? I mean, he's no Devin Pommeranke, but he might be better this year than I thought. Especially because last years starter, Eddie Phillips, has sat out the last 2 meets.

Really, not an awful day. It sucks to lose, especially to a team from Ohio, but thats life when you're in the midst of a down year. You can see the talent in this team starting to develop, Boyle getting better, Hynes winning matches, Apland wrestling well, Zeerip starting to showcase his incredible ability. It's certainly not pretty, and the bevy of injuries don't help, but the foundation is being laid here to build a champion in 2010.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cliff Keen: The Aftermath

Yeeck, another bad weekend for Michigan wrestling, as the hits just keep on coming. Just bullets as I've been incredibly busy in Richmond's wrestling room.

Sean Boyle: Boyle went 2-2 over the weekend, losing to 2 ranked wrestlers and beating 2 unranked ones. He lost a 7-2 decision to #11 Jared Patterson of Oklahoma, and a 10-5 decision to #17 Andre Gonzalez of Cal State Fullerton. Boyle might suffer this year due to an incredibly tough schedule, but he should be better for it in the future.

Zac Stevens: Steven's undefeated run came to an end in Las Vegas, losing 7-6 to #19 David Marble of Bucknell in his second match. Stevens finished the tournament 3-2, after losing 7-2 to #13 Steve Mytych of Drexel. Stevens might see some time ranked this year, as he has been hanging tough against good kids, even knocking off a few.

Mark Weber: Weber was a little unlucky, he drew his first match against #17 Kenny Hashimoto of Northern Colorado, and he lost 9-2. He finished 1-2 on the tourney, with no more matches against ranked opponents. A little dissapointing actually, I had hoped Weber could step in down a weight and be more competitive. It's too bad Kellen Russel is redshirting, this tournament is where he made his name, and shot up from outside the top 20 to ranked # 3 his freshman year.

Mark Beaudry: Beaudry went 1-2 over the weekend, his only ranked opponent was a respectable 11-7 loss to #18 Desmond Green of Buffalo to knock him out of the consolation bracket. Beaudry's obviously in a tough spot, and I'm personally amazed he has the strength to continue wrestling so soon. He's a better man than me.

Dave Johnson: Johnson scored the biggest upset in wrestling at the tournament, or even this year, when he gave #1 and returning National Champion Jordan Burroughs of Nebraska his first loss in 2 years. Granted, it may have been an Inj. Default because Burroughs tooth was knocked out, but still, take what you can get. He wasn't so lucky in the next match, dropped an 11-2 major to #14 Bryce Saddoris of Navy. He then lost his first match in consolations to drop to 3-2 on the tournament. Disregarding the fluke Inj. Default win over a far better wrestler, Johnson still had a good tournament, destroying some inferior competition and hanging in there with better wrestlers, including a 9-4 loss to previously ranked Colton Salazar.

Aaron Hynes: Hynes was another wrestler with a bad draw, dropping his first match wrestled to #17 P.J. Gillespie of Hofstra. Hynes then wrestled well, winning 2 matches, before dropping an 11-10 battle to someone whose full name appears on the bracket at "T Edwards" of Az. State. I'm kind of dissapointed he didn't do better, as I think Hynes should be beating kids around the #17-20 range, but he lost 2 close matches to decent wrestlers, so not an awful weekend.

Justin Zeerip: Zeerip had one of the better tournaments for Michigan wrestlers, and wrestled good enough to earn his first appearence on the national rankings, debuting at #19. Zeerip won 3 straight matches to start, including a 2-0 decision over Tyler French, who had just beaten the 4 seed and currenty #14 Nate Lee of Boise St. in a 4-3 decision. His first loss was a 6-2 decision at the hands of #7 Luke Manuel of Purdue. He finished the tournament 5-3, including a 2-1 decision over #20 David Rella of Ohio St, a 4-1 loss to #11 Ryan Patrovich of Hofstra, and a 3-2 loss to #8 Jeff James of Oklahoma. This tournament was a very good sign of his future, as he is starting to hang with the big boys and pose a real threat to knock someone off. Great sign for the future of Michigan wrestling, as Zeerip's success looks to be key to the success of the program.

Erich Smith: Smith had a quiet tournament, going 1-2, and wrestling zero ranked kids. I'm not sure what to say... I'd like to see what Hunter Collins has, but McFarland knows what he's doing. This is probably the teams biggest hole though...although 41 hurts a little more because we were supposed to be so good there.

Anthony Biondo: Probably the only Wolverine to have a better day than Justin Zeerip was Anthony Biondo, who sees his ranking shoot all the way up to #5 in the country after the tournament. Biondo's shot up the rankings is due almost entirely to him knocking off the #2 seed, and former Michigan 2 time state champ, now #6 Cam Simaz of Cornell. Of course, as with everything in Michigan sports, we can't just enjoy that, as Biondo had to injury default out to 6th place with a sprained MCL. Still, excellent wrestling by Biondo to knock off Simaz, 8-6, and really cement himself as an All-American caliber athlete. Now we just have to hope for a full and speedy recovery.

Ben Apland: I was a little surprised to see Apland here instead of Phillips, but I guess the coaches want to test him this year to make sure he's ready. He did OK in his first big time college action. He was 2-2 against no ranked wrestlers, notchign 2 pins, getting pinned once and decisioned once. Not a bad debut, though this weight class wasn't as ridiculously stacked as many of the others where

Overall, not an awful performance by Michigan, they just don't have the studs to really compete this year. Great to see Zeerip and Biondo step up their game on the big stage though, especially since both will be back next year, where the team will be much better. Good to see Steven's performign well too, its always good when athletes are rewarded for their hard work. Maybe they can work him somewhere into next years lineup even with Grajales expected to start.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The story of Michigan Sports: Blech

Well that was awful. I didn't bother previewing any of the 3 meets that happened over the past weekend, mainly because they weren't teams I thought would be able to hang with Michigan. I was wrong. Michigan dropped 2 of 3 matches, each by a single point, and barely beat their final opponent. I knew Michigan would have a down year, but losing to Bloomsburg and American is incredibly dissapointing, and some individual performances where just ugly. Just a quick recap of the weekend again, half because I don't have video, and half because I really wouldn't want to watch it even if I did.


- Zac Stevens continues to impress, he went 3-0 over the weekend, with one major decision. He didn't face any ranked opponents, but if he keeps winning he might see himself ranked sooner rather than later.

- Biondo was excellent, as usual. He was the only other Wolverine with a perfect record, and he tallied a Major and a Tech. Judging by the score, he wasn't taken down all tournament, always a great sign.

-Eddie Phillips had a good day, going 2-1, with one very dominant decision. Phillips probably won't be an All-American, but he is a bear of a wrestler, and can go out against top notch HWY's and save team points, an underrated skill.

-Justin Zeerip also went 2-1, recording a tech and a decision. Good to see Zeerip start winning, he is a key part of this teams future, and if he can live up to his potential he can compete for national titles. It's not a question of work ethic with Zeerip, just of getting better technically.


- We need to find a 157 Lb'er, badly. I'm sure Dave Johnson is a wonderful, hard working wrestler, but getting pinned in both 1 point losses is brutal. I'd understand if it was just Moley who pinned him against Bloomsburg, as top 5 kids can do that, but a kid ranked 15th should not be pinning a Michigan wrestler, ala Steve Fittery of American.

-Boyle hasn't been quite as good as I thought he would be. He is just a freshman so its understandable that he would struggle, and I commend him for staying off his back and keeping everyone he wrestled to decisions. I'm sure he'll be fine in the future, but with the Big10 so strong there, it might not be a very good year to be Sean Boyle.

- Man, just when I thought Hynes was really gonna break out, he goes 1-2 and loses to 2 unranked kids in fairly meek fashion, 7-2 each. I'm not particularly worried about him, he should be unranked after this week, just a little surprised by the results. He does have a textbook college skill set, and he will knock off some more big name competition, he just had a bad day. Maybe swine flu?

Yeah, not exactly the results I was hoping for. It's gonna be a rough year for Michigan, but then again, whats new? It's been tough for us in most sports lately, between the football program being torn down and struggling to set the foundation amidst a torrid downpour of bad luck, and the basketball team, what should be our saving grace after a season of repeated gut shots, suddenly looking like they may not be as good as everyone had thought they were. Dan Gable once said "Once you've wrestled, everything else is easy." It's true, after you experience the pain and dedication it takes to become a wrestler, most everything else in life seems easy. This is true right now about Michigan fandom, which seems to have become one heartbreaking loss after another, with a scandal thrown in every now and again.

It will not continue like this though, the future is brighter, and its right at the end of this tunnel. Football will be back, Basketball will be back, and Wrestling will be back, they will compete not only for Big 10 titles, but for National titles, because we are Michigan, that's what we do, and when we do, you will look back on these times and remember players like Brandon Graham and Manny Harris and Anthony Biondo. Guys who got caught in the middle of a bad time, but who busted their balls everytime because we might lose, but god damnit we're gonna lose going 150 miles an hour. They lead by example, and though they might not receive the fruits of their labor while on the team, they are setting a foundation. Guys like Craig Roh, and Darius Morris, and Eric Grajales, they see that, they see the effort these guys put in everyday, and they know that all they want to do is win one for Michigan. Some fans might forget these guys, they dont' want to remember the times when Michigan was bad, but don't think for a second that when Michigan turns around it's not because we have guys on the team who saw seniors work their asses off because they loved Michigan.

I know its tough to stay interested in tough times, its natural, losing sucks. Maybe you don't want to go to the games, and thats fine, maybe you don't even want to watch, and I don't care. But don't forget. Don't think when the turnaround comes that the seniors and juniors on these teams didn't play a huge part in it. After all, once you've been through something this trying, everything else seems a little easier.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Michigan falls to Lehigh, 21-9

Well that was...expected. Sadly, I cannot find a whole lot of video for this, so this post will be rather sparse in anything I can draw for the remainder of the season. Not many surprises in this match either, except for maybe the total lack of bonus points for either side, and of course, Zac Stevens upset of #12 Matt Fisk. In abscence of video to review, I'm just gonna break it down into good signs and bad signs from this meet, solely by looking at scores.

Bad: Not a whole lot here really, Michigan was outgunned in this meet from the start, Biondo was probably the only one who came in and was really favored to win. I'm a little dissapointed in Zeerip, as I really thought he would win his match, or at least notch a takedown. Boyle is a little dissapointing as well, but it was his first real meet in college and he lost to a much more experienced wrestler. 4-0 is kind of an ugly score for a match though, it would have been nice to see him notch and escape or 2 and be in the match at the end.

Good: The big thing here has to be Stevens beating Fisk. Stevens is starting because uber-recruit Eric Grajales is redshirting after knee surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered at a skate park, and its nice to see that it won't cost this team an enormous amount this year. Stevens was ok last year, always wrestled hard and usually kept matches close, but he just couldn't get wins in the incredibly tough Big Ten. Beating Fisk is a huge step for him, as it's probably the best opponent he's beaten in college, and shows that he could be a useful piece for this team, especially if Grajales and Russel bulk up over the course of their RS years and are at 41-49 next year. Good to see Hynes win, as always. I love me some Aaron Hynes as a sleeper in the Big 10 this year. Of course, with such a young team, its always good to see them not giving up Majors, and to be reassured that Phillips can wrestle with the top HWY's in the country and hold them to 3, something that is essential if you are going to be a good dual meet team.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lehigh preview

Thought I'd get this up a little early, as it should be a very busy weekend and I'm not sure when I'll get the time to do it later.

It's officially wrestling season now, and the first duel meet of the season is this Sunday at 2:00 P.M., at Cliff Keen Arena. Michigan enters this season unranked for the first time in...maybe my lifetime. This is mainly because they lost 2 of the better wrestlers to ever wear a maize and blue singlet, and because they are redshirting quite a bit of talent, including All-American Kellen Russel and All-Universe freshamn Eric Grajales. On to the weight by weight breakdown!

125: Michigan debuts a true freshman starter here, one of the top recruits from last years stellar class, Sean Boyle. It's been a mixed bag with Boyle in the 2 open meets so far this year, both losses at MSU were pins by lesser competition, one coming from Jared Germaine a few matches after he beat him 7-5. Lehigh is starting John McDonald this year, who was ranked similar out of High School to Boyle, but an injury his freshman year set him back, and he has yet to really live up to his potential. I think this is a close match, probably a swing match in the meet, but Lehigh will likely take a decision with the more experience McDonald. Lehigh leads 3-0

133: Lehigh has one of their big guns here, Sr. Matt Fisk, ranked 12th nationally, and a 3 time NCAA qualifier. Michigan will counter with Zac Stevens, a scrappy fellow who looks to be much improved from last year, especially on his feet. Stevens is a fighter, and he rarely looks out of a match, so I don't think Fisk, who has a penchant for getting bonus points, will be able to get anything more than a Major out of him, but I don't think Stevens is good enough yet to compete with the older and more talented Fisk. Lehigh leads 7-0

Damn...gonna miss Kellen Russel here, as Michigan will put out Soph. Mark Weber against Sr. Seth Ciasulli, another multiple time NCAA qualifier, and the #15 141 pounder in the country. Weber wrestled in spurts last year and never really looked impressive, but he's down a weight now and should be significantly better, just not good enough to beat a more experience Ciasulli, who should win a Major or maybe more. I'll say major just because I'm so damned optomistic. Lehigh leads 11-0

A battle of fairly uknowns here, as Mark Beaudry will take the mat for Michigan against, likely, Brian Tanen of Lehigh. Neither wrestler really stands out as better than the other at first glance, but I think Beaudry's experience from starting last year in an absolutely ridiculously stacked 149 lb Big 10 will give him the edge here, probably for a decision. Definetly a match Michigan needs to win if they want to win. Lehigh leads 11-3

Another fairly anonymous showdown here, as Michigan's Dave Johnson will wrestle Lehigh's Sean Bilodeau. Against, not much background on either wrestler here, could be another swing match, but I don't see Johnson winning against a returning starter. Biledoeau had 8 of his 14 wins last year come by more than a decision, so I'll give him a Major, but having never seen Johnson, this could easily swing in Michigan's favor. Lehigh leads 15-3

Ugh, right when we get into the meat of Michigan's lineup, Lehigh throws out another stud, Mike Galante, #10 nationally, to counter last years most surprising wrestler, Aaron Hynes. Galante is a returning NCAA qualifier, as is Hynes, but Galante has done more outside of that, and was higher rated coming out of Blair Academy. Still, I really, really like Hynes here. He has everything you want from a college wrestler, he's a terror in the legs, he's tough to ride, and he has a textbook High-C. I'm calling for it, Hynes with the upset, 6-5, riding time point wins it. Lehigh leads 15-6

This should be an absolute battle. Justin Zeerip is coming off a bit of a dissapointing season for Michigan, even though he qualified for NCAA's, but it came while wrestling way down in weight, which hurt his performance in a lot of matches. Alex Caruso, ranked #18, will take the mat for Lehigh, coming off a year that saw him also qualify for NCAA's. I feel Zeerip should be much improved this year, especially up at a more natural weight for him. I'll give this one to Michigan, just because I think Zeerip is the more talented wrestler and has a better background than Caruso, but I seriously doubt this match will be more than a 2-3 point match. Lehigh leads 15-9

This is the first weight there is some question as to who Michigan will start, Erich Smith won the wrestle-offs, but I think Hunter Collins is the starter due to his better performances in both Open tournaments this year. Sadly, it likely won't matter, as Lehigh probably has their second best wrestler at this weight, David Craig, ranked #12 nationally. Whoever goes out there needs to try and keep this match to a decision, but ultimately it should end up as more. I think at least a Major, but more likely a Tech. Fall for Lehigh. If so, it would all but assure a Lehigh victory. Lehigh leads 20-9

Michigan sends out their best wrestler not redshirting this year, Anthony Biondo, to face off against Joe Kennedy. Biondo is a returning NCAA qualifier, and is the lone Wolverine to enter this season ranked, coming in at #13. Kennedy actually spent most of last year, his freshman year, ranked, but an injury in his conference championships caused him to miss the postseason. This one should be a Wolverine victory, but Kennedy is certainly good enough to keep it at a decision. Lehigh leads 20-12

Another weight that doesn't have a definitive starter yet on the Michigan wrestling website, but it's probably returning starter Eddie Phillips over RSFr. Ben Apland. Whoever it is has quite the task, as they go up against Lehigh's best wrestler, Zach Rey. Rey comes in ranked #5th in the country after making it to the quarterfinals of the NCAA's as a RsFr. last year. Phillips can frustrate some good HWY's on his feet, as he's good at staying out of vulnerable positions, and his high school background at Lakeshore, where all they did was throw, will probably keep him from getting put to his back, still, he likely loses a decision here. Lehigh wins 23-12

So doesn't look great for Michigan's chances, especially considering I gave them the benefit of the doubt in many matches and was pretty consverative with predicting bonus points. Lehigh is a very good team though, and the matchups just aren't very good for Michigan.