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.

Michigan gets Commitment from Zeb Hilyard

Sorry about the lateness, but I've been busy lately, what with coaching and school and such. Last week Michigan received a commitment from Zeb Hilyard of Hudson, MI. Hilyard is a 3 time state qualifier in division 4, winning it his sophomore season at 112 and losing last year, oddly enough to the 3rd Zeerip Brother, at 119. I might actually get to see him wrestle in person this saturday at a scrimmage up at MSU, if I do I'll try and get a little bit of an in person scouting report done.

Monday, November 9, 2009

And so it begins...

The 2009-10 Michigan wrestling season kicked off this weekend with the Eastern Michigan open, one of the bigger preseason tournaments in the country. I can't get too in depth into results today, I've got a friend working on the rest of the weight class previews and me and him are gonna hash out exactly what happened here, as he knows more about CMU and some of the other kids who went to HS in Michigan than I do.

There was some encouraging news for Michigan as a team though, Aaron Hynes and Mark Weber both took 2nd in the open division, and Phillips won the title up at HWY. Weber lost a close match in the finals to Purdue's Juan Archuletta, after he beat MSU's starter Colin Dozier. There wasn't really any nationally recognized kids at 41, Northwestern was there so I was suprised that Sulzer wasn't there, maybe he's up. Hynes cruised to the finals but Jarrod King, returning NCAA champ, was waiting to major him. It's nice to see that going up a weight wont' hurt him much. Phillips at HWY was interesting...McFarland said earlier he would be down at 197. Biondo is the obvious starter there though, so he might end up being at HWY. Speaking of Biondo, he took 2nd as well, losing to 14th ranked Logan Brown of Purdue, 4-3. Not much new there, Biondo should be around that level of competition all year. Justin Zeerip also placed 3rd, his one loss a 3-1 overtime defeat at the hands of 11th ranked Luke Manuel.

EMU also has a Freshman/Sophomore division, where 3 Wolverines placed. Sean Boyle, likely your starter at 125, took 3rd, his one loss a 5-3 decision in the Semi-finals. Dan Yates, another member of the stacked 2009 recruiting class, took 3rd, losing his first match then absolutly destroying everyone in the consolations, with only one match lasting the full 7 minutes. That is total and complete domination. Dan Yates is a bad, bad man. Michigan also had a champ here, Hunter Collins, who managed to win in every way possible with a bye, a pin, a tech, a major, and a decision. He wrestled for the cycle.

The placements here reaffirm my belief that Michigan will be a decent team this year, probably to 20, but next year will compete for a national title. Boyle, Zeerip, Hynes, and Collins should all have breakout years, and Mark Weber may join them, and once again, Dan Yates is a bad, bad man.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Joe McFarland on the New Facility. Via Flowrestling

Just saw this, and thought it would be a good watch for anyone interested in the Michigan wrestling team. Joe McFarland goes on a tour of the new wrestling facility in a 2 part video on, with many interesting video's in the sidebar.

Very long link goes here.

From the looks of it, the new facility with be top notch in every way, even including a camera and 52" HD tv for all 3 of the custom ordered 50' X 50' mats. You really have to give it up for everyone at the university for doing such a stellar job with this, now McFarland has to put it to good use and get us some more titles.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Max Huntley Commits to Michigan

Yesterday, the University of Michigan wrestling team received its first commitment of the 2009-10 recruiting class, Max Huntley of Blair Academy. Huntley had committed to Missouri earlier this month, but announced yesterday he would continue his wrestling career at UofM. Huntley actually graduated last year, but was 17 and decided to take a prep year at Blair Academy before moving on to college. He has performed well at a number of prestigious tournaments, winning the Walsch Ironman and the Beast of the East, and placing second at Fargo, earning him the top ranking in's 197 pound prospect rankings.

Apparently, when Coach McFarland said he wanted to get some recruits in the 184-197 lb range, he was serious. Huntley is a huge pickup for Michigan, not only does it give them an excellent wrestler with potential at NCAA titles, but it also keeps that Blair Academy pipeline open. Blair is consistently the top wrestling school in America, with occaisonal challenges from St. Ed's or St. Paris-Graham, and they put out All-Americal level talent in droves each year. Huntley makes the third wrestler from Blair in four years to pick Michigan, the first two being Kellen Russell and Sean Boyle.

Huntley likely fits in at 197, he's a pretty big 189 pounder right now, which means a probable redshirt as Biondo will occupy that spot next year. They will probably find a way to slot him into the lineup the next year though, on what is starting to look like a National Championship quality team. The future of Michigan wrestling continues to shine bright.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Joe McFarland Interview at Wrestlingaddix

Michigan Wrestling headman Joe McFarland was recently interviewed by In it he talks a little about Steve Lukes national championship run last year, his very good recruiting class last year and how they are coming along, and goes down the lineup to give a much clearer picture of where everyone is around the team. He even includes EEEE BARWIS. I highly recommend listening for anyone interested in Michigan wrestling.

Here's your link:

He mentions in there that Kellen Russel may take a redshirt, and it's now apparent that he will. This team is not built for this year though, as McFarland mentions, he could have 7 freshman or sophomore starters this year, and that doesn't include his 2 best recruits, both project as All-American type wrestlers. This year may not be the greatest year in Michigan history, but this team will compete in the next 3 or 4 years for National Titles.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Whose back around the Big Ten: 149

Another weight class where the Big 10 is top heavy, as the top 3 wrestlers in the country all wrestle for Big 10 schools. With such good competition, some might think the individual title is up in the air, but nothing could be farther from the truth. With that, onward into the profiles!

Brent Metcalf, Sr., Iowa: Metcalf has had quite an interesting time in college, taking his redshirt year at Virginia Tech, then following coach Tom Brands to Iowa along with one of the best recruiting classes college wrestling has ever seen. Metcalf was forced to sit out his first season at Iowa due to transfer rules, and since he first stepped on the Mat as a sophomore has lost only 2 matches, each to Darrion Caldwell. With Jake Herbert leaving, Metcalf is easily the most dominant wrestler in the country, compiling a 37-1 record last with with an unheard of 20 pins, 6 techs, and 7 majors. After losing his title in the championship match last year, it wouldn't surprise me if he has forgone sleep in order to train non-stop for this year. I don't care how good anyone at Michigan has gotten, the best hope for us is to try and hold him to a tech fall. I highly recommend watching him this year at the Big 10 tournament, held in Ann Arbor.

Lance Palmer, Sr., OSU: Also a very, very good wrestler, Palmer is a 3 time All-American, with an 8th place finish and two 4th's. He finished last year 27-3, with 7 pins and a handful of majors and techs. He's ranked 2nd coming into the year, and that will probably end up where he's ranked going out of it. I'm not sold with his number of pins that Michigan won't be able to find someone able to take him the distance, but a major is probably the most likely outcome.

Kyle Ruschell, Sr., Wisconsin: Ruschell finshed last years NCAA tournament in 3rd place, and he picks up right where he left off, ranked 3rd at the moment. Ruschell should challenge Palmer this year for 2nd in both the Big 10 and NCAA tournaments, but I don't think either will have a realistic shot at 1st. His lack of bonus points against Big 10 competition should mean Michigan can escape with a major here, but he is talented enough to get more.

Andrew Nadhir, Sr., Northwestern: Nadhir is currently ranked 15th in a weight class that sees dramatic talent dropoff after #3, so I'm not entirely sure what to think of him. He's a solid wrestler, and has actually beaten Palmer once before, but he doens't have the accolades to show he can consistently compete against the top dogs. Michigan might be able to pick up a win here, but if they can't I wouldn't expect Nadhir to get anything more than a decision.

Wow, the Big 10 will lose a lot of talent here after this year, with all 4 ranked wreslters being seniors, and 3 of them multiple All-American performers. Michigan has decent options here so I'm not worried about this weight class all that much, I'm sure at least one Big Ten freshman, maybe David Taylor if he got big enough, will step up and make some noise, but overall its kind of feast or famine here, Michigan is either going to have a shot to win this matchup or they are sending a kid out to try and stay off his back.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Whose back around the Big Ten: 141

Finally, a weight class Michigan has a shot at dominating this year. 141 is one of the most loaded weights in the Big 10, with 7 wrestlers in the top 25, 4 of which in the top 10, but Michigan has one of those big guns, Kellen Russel, who you can read a little more about in the post about Michigans returning wrestlers.

Reece Humphrey, Sr., OSU: Humphrey moves up a weight after placing 2nd at NCAA's at 133 last year to MSU's Franklin Gomez. Probably a good move for him and the team, as he clears the way for a very highly touted recruit, and comes into this year ranked #1. Humphrey was 26-3 last year, with 9 pins, and finished 2nd at the Big 10 tournament last year. I think he's probably overrated in the preseason polls, and I'm not expecting him to hold onto that ranking for long. Set it in stone, Russel will beat him, and Humphrey will not finish higher than 3rd in the Big 10.

Joey Slaton, Sr., Iowa: Slaton was recently in trouble with the law for shoplifting, so all of this is based on the assumption that he isn't kicked off the team, or Tom Brand's doesn't actually kill him. Slaton made a run to the NCAA finals in 2008, only to be pinned in a matter of seconds by Coleman Scott of Okie St. Last year was lost to Slaton, as he got too big for the 133 weight class, evident by his match against ISU, where he started strong against Fanthorpe but gassed out in the 2nd period and got manhandled. He has a little more experience at the weight than Humphrey as he wrestled there sometimes last year, and is currently ranked 8th, but Russel still has the advatage here, and it should be another decision for the Wolverines.

Frank Molinaro, So., PSU: Molinar is a bit of an odd case, as he placed 8th in both the NCAA and Big 10 tournament, despite only winning 1 match at Big 10's. He finished 3 wins above .500 with a 19-16 record, and wasn't really impressive, but comes into the season ranked 8th. I'm not sure what to think of him overall, I think he should improve with his new coach, Cael Sanderson, but I don't know if he'll be able to repeat his tournament success. Either way, Russel beat him twice last year 3-1, and this year should be no different.

Mike Thorn, Jr., Minnesota: Despite leading the Big 10 in wins last year with a 29-15 record, Thorn came in seeded 4th and took 5th. He qualified for NCAA's but suffered a quick 0-2 exit. He also lead the Big 10 in pins, but I think that is likely a result of favorable matchups for him outside of the conference, as he was 6-14 against ranked opponents. He should improve that mark this year, but he won't do it against Russel.

Ryan Prater, Jr., Illinios: Prater qualified for NCAA's last year by taking 8th in the Big 10 tournament, despite having an 11-15 record for the season, and enters this season ranked 14th. Barely missed becoming an All-American after scoring a giant upset by pinning Kellen Russel. Yeah, thats not happening again. Michigan actually doesn't wrestle Illinios this year in the Big 10 schedule, so Russel won't face him unless its at a tournament, and I don't expect he will get caught again.

Keith Sulzer, Sr., Northwestern: Another wrestler with a so-so record, 19-12, who qualified for the NCAA tournament. Sulzer got in by finishing 5th at the Big 10 tournament, but fell short of All-American status. He enters the year ranked 18th, and a ways back from the top tier talent in this weight class. Surprise, Russel should earn a decision here, unless he gets caught in really terrible position on a scramble.

Well, 141 is certainly much deeper than 133, and I left Russel of this list because I already wrote about him. It's one of the Big 10's deepest weights, and thankfully one of Michigans strongest, as they have their best wrestler slotted in here. Russel has been ranked 1st at various times throughout his career and is more than capable of beating everyone here. I really expect this is his year to win a national title and get the monkey off his back after winning consecutive Big 10 titles and entering 2 NCAA tournaments with a top seed but failining to finish higher than 7th.

Whose back around the Big Ten: 133

The second in a ten part series looking at Non-Michigan returning wrestlers around the Big 10 who come into this year ranked in the top 25. 133 isn't as deep in the Big 10 as 125 is, but there are still a group of 3 very good wrestlers.

Franklin Gomez, Sr., MSU: Another returning Big 10 champ, Gomez is also defending the NCAA title, and currently ranked #1. He was 27-2 last year, and capped off his season with a dramatic 5-4 win over OSU's Reece Humphrey. Gomez is obviously an excellent wrestler, but he doesn't earn a ton of bonus points. Whoever wrestles here for Michigan next year, likely Zac Stevens, should be able to get out of here and only give up a major, maybe a tech if Gomez is really on, but it won't matter much, MSU might not win a match outside of this one.

Jayson Ness, Sr., Minnesota: Ness was 38-8 last year, and finished 4th in the Big 10, but 3rd nationally. Yes, the Big ten is that ridiculously deep, the 4th place wrestler can take 3rd at NCAA's. Despite coming into the season ranked #2, if I had to put money down on a National Champion at this weight class, Ness would be my pick. He put on a ridiculously dominant performance last year, notching 19(!) pins and 7 majors, and knocking off the top ranked wrestler twice in the course of one week last year. Normally I would notch this down as a pin against an unranked Michigan wrestler, but when wrestling Michigan last year, he only managed to pick up a major, which ended up saving the Wolverines 2 points and won them the meet. I'm not as sold on beating Minnesota this year, but I'm confident Stevens can stay off his back against Ness and hold him to just a major.

Daniel Dennis, Sr., Iowa: This was a great story last year, as Dennis, a wrestler who had never won even a state title in high school, exploded onto the scene. Ranked #1 for stretches during the season, he finished the season 5th in the Big 10 and 7th at NCAA's, despite going through the Big 10 dual meets without a loss. Dennis is very solid, not spectacular, in any area other than the obvious Tom Brands conditioning, and will enter this year ranked 5th. He won't give away any match he wrestles, but he's not going to dazzle you, and will probably only get Iowa a decision or a major against Michigan.

133 is a lot like 125 without the back end talent. 3 top 5 wrestlers is a lot, even for the Big 10, but the talent dropoff is significant past them, and Michigan should be able to pick up some points here throughout the season.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Whose back around the Big 10: 125

Today is the first in a series of posts detailing the notable non-Michigan returning wrestlers in the Big 10. Notable means they will have a shot to place at NCAA's this year, so anyone who placed last year or is ranked this year. The first weight class in this series is, what else, 125.

Angel Escobedo, Sr., Indiana: Your 2008-09 Big 10 Champion, Escobedo finished the season with a 26-5 record and a 5th place finish at NCAA's. Already a 3-time All-American, and 2008 NCAA champ, he comes into the season ranked 2nd nationally, and will be the favorite to repeat as Big 10 champ. Against Michigan, really you just have to hope you can get out of it and only give up 3, as 13 of his 26 wins last season were for bonus points, with a whopping 8 pins.

Brandon Precin, Sr., Northwestern: Ok, this ones a little odd, as Precin doesn't show up on the preseason Coaches Poll despite finishing 3rd at Nationals, and knocking off the defending champ, the previously mentioned Mr. Esobedo. I have no idea why, as he was a Junior last year, and has beaten 2 of the top 5 wrestlers, pinning one. In any case, Precin was 2nd at Big 10's, 3rd at NCAA's, and finished with a record of 33-4. For his Career he's a 2 time All-American, and a 3 time All-Big ten performer. Same outlook as Escobedo for Michigan, he's a major threat to get bonus points, with 7 pins and 7 majors last year. I'm baffled by the lack of preseason rankings though, I did a quick google search, and found nothing that said he wasn't wrestling this year, so hopefully it was just a mistake by the voting comittee. It would be a shame to lose such a great wrestler, especially in a year where he should compete for a national title.

Zach Sanders, So., Minnesota: Sanders was a RsFr last year, and he started off his career with a bang. He went 35-7, finishing 5th in the Big 10 and 7th at NCAA's. He comes into the season ranked 4th nationally, and is another big ten wrestler with National Title aspirations. He actually lead the Big 10 in major's and techs last year in his weight class, with 7 and 9 respectively, and notched 6 pins. I hate to be repetitive, but the goal for any Michigan wrestler here would be to just stay off his back and try to hold Sanders to just a decision.

Brad Pataky, Jr., PSU: The first wrestler on this list who isn't a returning All-American, Pataky actually finished higher in the Big 10 tournament last year than Sanders. He wrestled his first season in 05-06, then took 2 consecutive redshirts, one of which was an Olympic redshirt, so last year was his sophomore season. He went 28-9 last year, and finished 4th in the Big 10, qualifying for NCAA's where he did not place. Oddly enough, he was incredibly dominant in the Big 10 dual meet schedule, finishing with a 7-1 record and some very dominant wins over excellent wrestlers. He's not as much of a threat to put up bonus points as the previous 3 wrestlers, but I'm not sure anyone Michigan has will be able to beat him. Pataky starts the year ranked 8th nationally.

Nikko Triggas, Jr., OSU: Triggas is a the first wrestler here who failed to place at Big 10's last year, but he could be more dangerous in a duel meet. Triggas still qualified for NCAA's last year under an at-large bid, but failed to place there as well. Last year he went 22-17, with a whopping 13 pins. He's a very explosive wrestler, in that he can put someone on their back at anytime. He's the first wrestler on this list who I think a Michigan kid has a shot at beating, mainly because he was beaten 17 times last year. Still, it would be a very good thing to get out of this match only giving up 3, or even 4.

B.J. Futrell, So., Illinios: A true freshman last year, Futrell comes into this year ranked 17th nationally, and is coming off a season that saw him take 6th in the Big 10 and qualify for an NCAA bid with a 25-14 record. He did manage to score bonus points 14 times last year, which is an impressive rate, including 6 pins, but I'm willing to bet a lot of those came against weaker competition. Michigans 125 Lb'er might have a chance, but even if he loses I'm confident he won't give up more than a major.

Well, that would be all of the Big 10 wrestlers who come into this season ranked among the top 25 nationally. Obviously, this weight is stacked in conference, and Michigan will have to hope for a Kellen Russel type breakout from Sean Boyle to give them someone who can really hang with the big dogs.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009-10 Wolverine Wrestling: A Primer

I am aware that wrestling is sort of an oddball sport, so with that in mind, here is a breakdown of what the team will probably look like this year. Some of the spots will be more open than others, and the picture will become much clearer after the Nov. 1st Maize 'n Blue intersquad duels, where a few of the starting spots will be up for grabs.

125: Last year, this spot was all Micheal Watts, and he did a decent job at it. The Big Ten was ridiculously loaded here, so his record wasn't really reflective of his talents, but he was a solid wrestler, and its hard to replace a ranked senior and expect the spot to improve. Prime candidates for the job this year are either Bret Marsh or Sean Boyle. Marsh was a state champion from Dexter, MI, and redshirted last year as a freshman. Boyle is a freshman this year, and originally hailed from Lowell, MA, until he transfered to Blair Academy in NJ, probably the best wrestling school in the country, and if not, its no lower than 2nd. Boyle was a 2 time prep-national champ, and was Intermat's #32 recruit nationwise. I think Boyle has the edge hear, but I have seen neither wrestle live. Boyle definetly has the higher ceiling than Marsh, but the team is going to be giving ground against almost all B10 125 Lb'ers, so they might redshirt him and tell Marsh to stay off his back.

133: Mike Sears and Zac Stevens each saw time in this spot last year, and neither was especially good or bad. Personally I liked Stevens better because he seemed to have more of a chance to win some of the ugly matches than Sears did. None of that matters this year though, as Michigan pulled in Eric Grajales out of Brandon, FL. Grajales was either the # 1 or 2 recruit, depending on who you ask. Intermat had David Taylor, recently commited to PSU, ahead of him, but it was close everywhere. Grajales wrestled in Florida HS competition since 7th grade, and finished with an overall record of 292-6. The last match he lost was in 8th grade, when he took 2nd in the state, and since then he won over 200 straight matches and 4 Florida state titles. He even tried out for the Olympics in 2008, and is a 5 time greco-roman national champ. He will step in, be the starter, and will, in all likelyhood, be an All-American this year, in pretty difficult weight class.

141: Ah, the first returning starter, Kellen Russel. Russel will be a Jr this year, and has been excellent over the course of his career at Michigan. He has been ranked as high as #1 in the country at various times since his freshman year upset of J Jaggers, and has been consistently excellent. His best trait is he is one of, if not the best scrambler in the country. He's not particularly great at forcing offense, and it sometimes shows in his lack of bonus point decisions, but he is incredibly difficult to take down, and always seems to come out of a scramble in better position. Russel comes into this year ranked 3rd, and will have a shot at a national title.

149: This weight was a question mark last season, and it looks to be the same way this year. Mark Weber, a 4 time state champ came in last year, but Mark Beaudry, a 4 time placewinner, 1 time champ got the nod in all but the Cliff Keen Classic. I'm not sure if that burns Webers RS or not, but it won't matter much this season. Beaudry is older than Weber, but probably has a lower ceiling. It probably won't matter much who gets the nod, they are both about equal at this point, and even if one is better than the other it wasn't matter against the 3 buzzsaws at this weight in the B10.

157: Last year, this weight turned out to be surprisingly good for Michigan, as Aaron Hynes surprised everyone who had never seen him by qualifying for Nationals. Hynes is back this year, and I think he can continue to improve and really become one of Michigans better wrestlers. Hynes comes into this year ranked 18th by Intermat, but has a decision over 14 Kurt Kinser, and a 13-3 Major over 13 Colton Salazar. He's not an exciting wrestler, but he does 3 things very well, he has a great high crotch, he's tough to ride, and he is an absolute nightmare in the legs. I wouldn't be shocked if he advanced even further and was able to attain All-American status this year in a weight that's not as dangerous as others.

165: Another surprising national qualifier here, as Justin Zeerip managed to make his way to St. Louis. Zeerip looked Ok throughout the year, and managed to upset then 20th Dan Vallimont, but always looked a little too thin, and seemed to gas a little in really tough matches. It is my personal opinion that he was wrestling here because the team needed him to, and with holes opening up in the lineup, he should move up this year. It's not a knock against him, but sometimes you just can't perform like you are capable of at certain weights. I'm not entirely sure of his replacement, but I would bet it is his former teammate from high school, Dan Yates. Yates was a 3 time state champ out of Hesperia, MI, and will be a freshman this year. I'm hoping he can stay down enough to be able to wrestle here, as he wrestled 160 in high school and looked absolutly gigantic for a 160 pounder. Still, he was Intermats 12th overall recruit, and is as physically gifted as they come, and if he does step in, I expect him to make a run at qualifying for nationals.

174: Yeah...You may have heard of the guy who was here last year. Steve Luke, National Champion, 3 time All-American, 3 time Big Ten Champ. This is where I think Zeerip ends up, which would make it 2 times he has had to step into a lineup spot and replace an All-American, Eric Tannenbaum being the first. He should be up for the challenge though, as he can be physically dominant over most wrestlers he faces. Zeerip is a big threat to get bonus points, as he can force the action from neutral, and is explosive enough to put on some pinning combinations. Will he win Nationals? Probably not, but I think he'll be exciting to watch and give the team another weapon.

184: Last year this weight was occupied by Anthony Biondo, who moved down from 197 to allow Ty Todd to move up from here, more on that later. Biondo was able to make it to Nationals here, and tallied a victory over #13 Vince Jones of Nebraska. With 197 open again, it looks like Biondo will be moving back up, leaving this spot up for grabs. The man in the drivers seat for the starting gig is probably Hunter Collins, who was a 4 time California placewinner, and 1 time champ. California does not seperate wrestling into divisions based on school size, so that is a serious accomplishment. In addition, he competed well on the national level, taking 2nd at senior nationals and placing in many other tournaments. He should step in and be ok, although I have to qualify that by saying I have never seen him wrestle and have no idea.

197: Ty Todd, another incredibly decorated senior, wrestled here last year. 3 time All-American and 1 time B10 champ, he was one of the most entertaining wrestlers I've ever seen. He actaully moved up from 184, probably because he wanted a shot at winning a B10 or National title, something that, quite frankly, noone had last year, thanks to an unstoppable wrestling machine named Jake Herbert, who pinned or tech falled multiple time All-Americans last year. This year 197 goes back to Anthony Biondo, who comes in ranked 16th by intermat. Biondo should be one of the better wrestlers on the team this year, and have a shot at a B10 title in a rare B10 weight devoid of big stars.

HWY: This might just be me, but heavyweight just seems boring to me. Eddie Phillips is the starter here, and he was the starter last year, and he was pretty good. I saw him wrestle a few times, and the one thing I came away with is that heavyweights never do anything. I know they have to be careful not to get thrown, and I don't blame them for being hesitant to shoot on someone who weights 270 Lb's, I just can't get into watching it. Still, this weight class is wide open for the most part, Phillips probably won't beat the studs, but he'll knock someone off. The one good thing I can say for him is that he seems to stay out of dumb situations, and he doesn't let the other wrestler put him on his back or pile up points against him. Those are good traits for this weight class, as a lot of kids are pin or get pinned.

Keep in mind that a lot can change during an offseason, so its not a question of if I'm wrong, but what I'm wrong about. Obviously the guys who are returning national qualifiers will be starters, but some probably got Barwisized and moved up a weight, and I didn't take into account one highly recruited wrestler they had from 2 years ago who wasn't on the team because he was on a mission trip. I believe his name is Jake Salazar, and he'd fit in somewhere in the 65-84 range, assuming his mission is over and he wouldn't redshirt. I'll revisit this after the Nov. 1 Maize n Blue intersquad meet and it should be MUCH more accurate, like, 100%.

Friday, October 9, 2009

So it begins

"More enduringly than any other sport, wrestling teaches self-control and pride. Some have wrestled without great skill - none have wrestled without pride." - Dan Gable

I started wrestling in my Junior year of High School. One of the coaches mentioned it to my parents as a way to improve my conditioning and balance for football. I knew we had a very good program at my high school. The 2 state championship banners hanging in our gym reminded anyone who ever went in there who the best sports team in Richmond was. What I didn't know was was how much work wrestling was, or exactly how much it can engulf your life for the four months or so it goes on. From November to the beginning of March that year, Sunday had a new meaning to me, as it was the only day out of the week I ever saw the sun. Everyday it was up at 6:00 to school, and when school was done, it was practice. I often didn't leave until 7:00 at night. If it was saturday, I was up at the school at 6:00, waiting on a ride to a tournament that might not be over with until 7:00 or 8:00 at night.
Needless to say, I wasn't prepared, and thought about quitting. Thankfully, I started to improve, and not be everyones takedown dummy. Soon I was hooked, I looked forward to wrestling outside of practice, against real competition. After a senior year where we did end up winning states, I was away from wrestling for a while, until I came back to coach the kids at my old high school. Attempting to better understand the sport, I started really following college wrestling, and even started posting some wrestling information on, in the form of predictions and recaps. I noticed that it was difficult to find information about wrestling on the internet, my main resources were and, and it sometimes took a lot of digging to get all the information to put together a good post.
Sadly, college wrestling has been going through tough times lately, its not a very profitable sport to begin with, and many colleges are closing down their programs. I think a big part of that is that people just don't have the means to get enough information to get interested in it. I'm hoping to change that a little bit for Michigan Wrestling fans, by getting all of the stories together and filtering them through a fan's view. Hopefully this blog will help get interest in Michigan Wrestling up, as it is a great program that deserves great fans.