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.

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