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.