Friday, January 22, 2010

Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Michigan at the Southern Scuffle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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