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.