Russell Advances to Championship Round at Big Tens
Ben Apland

March 3, 2012

Photo Gallery 

Site: West Lafayette, Ind. (Mackey Arena)
Event: Big Ten Championships (Day 1 of 2)
U-M Team Standing: 8th Place of 12 Teams (50 points) after Day 1
Next U-M Event: Sunday, March 4 -- at Big Ten Championships - Day 2 (West Lafayette, Ind.), 1 p.m.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell (High Bridge, N.J./Blair Academy) advanced to the 141-pound final to headline the No. 14-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team's performance on the first day of competition at the Big Ten Conference Championships on Saturday (March 3) at Mackey Arena. With another five competitors alive in the wrestlebacks, the Wolverines hold the eighth spot (50 points) after the first day.

Russell, the top seed at 141 pounds, will make his fourth appearance in the Big Ten championship round after posting a pair of first-day wins. Like the previous three time, he advanced after earning a dramatic overtime win in the semifinals -- this time, a 3-1 decision against Minnesota's fourth-seeded Nick Dardanes. After the wrestlers traded little more than escapes through regulation, the Wolverine captain took advantage of a late flurry in the sudden-victory frame, wrapping up a double leg to score the match's first takedown with just five seconds remaining on the clock.

Russell beat Penn State's Bryan Pearsall, 6-0, in the morning quarterfinals, scoring on single legs in the first and third periods and earning a pair of escapes. Russell improved to 27-1 on the season and extended his current win streak to 20 straight matches.

Junior/sophomore Eric Grajales (Brandon, Fla./Brandon HS) just missed on advancing to his second straight 149-pound final appearance after falling 9-7 to Minnesota's third-seeded Dylan Ness. Grajales, seeded second, built up an early advantage in the first, hitting a double leg and quickly locking up a cradle for an additional two backs point, but Ness used a big move of his own to steal away the lead in the second. Grajales was driving through on a double leg when Ness countered, putting the Wolverine wrestler on his back for five points. Grajales earned a reversal in the third to pull within one, and after riding off Ness' time advantage, he cut him in search of the takedown but ran out of time.

Grajales avenged an earlier-season loss in the quarterfinals, scoring takedowns in the first and third periods and accumulating 2:03 in riding-time advantage en route to a 6-2 decision over Illinois' seventh-seeded Eric Terrazas.

Senior Zac Stevens (Monroe, Mich./Monroe HS) posted a 3-1 record on the day and earned bonus points in all three victories with two pins and a major decision. He lost to Illinois' third-seeded B.J. Futrell, 10-5, after giving up an early and sizable deficit through two periods but rebounded well in the evening wrestleback rounds. Stevens capped the day with an 11-2 win over Nebraska's seventh-seeded Ridge Kiley, using a headlock to score five points in the first period before adding two more takedowns -- one apiece -- in the final two frames.

Junior/sophomore Dan Yates (Hesperia, Mich./Hesperia HS), fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip (Fremont, Mich./Hesperia HS) and sophomore/freshman Max Huntley (Emerald Isle, N.C./Blair Academy) will wrestle for seventh place at 165, 174 and 197 pounds, respectively, after splitting consolation matches in the evening session.

Yates, who went 2-2 on the day, earned extra points in his first consolation matchup -- a 14-2 major decision over Purdue's Kyle Mosier. The sixth-seeded Wolverine scored three takedowns -- one in each period -- and six first-period back points to cruise to the win. He lost a 7-2 decision to Minnesota's seventh-seeded Cody Yohn in the next match, however, giving up takedowns in the first and third periods.

Zeerip also earned bonus points in his first consolation bout but dropped his other two matches on the day, including a quarterfinal rematch against Ohio State's fifth-seeded Nick Heflin. The wrestlers traded only escapes for the bulk of regulation, before the Buckeye broke the tie with a double-leg takedown within the final five seconds of regulation to win 3-1. He lost a similarly close contest to Illinois' eighth-seeded Jordan Blanton, 3-2, on a second-period single leg.

Huntley also went 1-2 on the day to drop into the seventh-place match at 197 pounds. After sacrificing an early advantage in a 6-4 quarterfinal loss to Illinois' fifth-seeded Mario Gonzalez, Huntley bounced back with a win in his first wrestleback, earning an 8-4 decision over Michigan State's Nick McDiarmid. The Wolverine rookie scored the bulk of his points in the first period, taking McDiarmid to his back on a quick single leg and adding a reversal after a subsequent injury timeout. Huntley closed the day with a 2-0 loss to top-seeded Sonny Yohn of Minnesota on an escape and riding time.

The Wolverines lost four competitors after the first day of competition as junior/sophomore Grant Pizzo (Brighton, Mich./Brighton HS), junior/sophomore Brandon Zeerip (Fremont, Mich./Hesperia HS), fifth-year senior Dave Johnson (Jenison, Mich./Jenison HS) and senior/junior Ben Apland (Woodridge, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) were all eliminated from the competition after suffering losses during the evening wrestleback session.

With the Big Ten heavyweight division earning 10 NCAA automatic qualifying bids, Apland wrestled an additional match against Illinois' Pat Walker after the conclusion of the second session, earning a win by fall (4:54) to punch his ticket to the NCAA tournament. The win did not count toward Michigan's point total.

Michigan will wrap up action at the Big Ten Championships tomorrow (Sunday, March 4) at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. The third session is slated to begin at 1 p.m., while the finals will start at 3 p.m. and be aired live on the Big Ten Network.

Team Standings (After Day 1)

 1. Minnesota       117
 2. Iowa            112.5
 3. Penn State      110
 4. Illinois         81.5
 5. Ohio State       76
 6. Northwestern     61.5
 7. Nebraska         56.5
 8. MICHIGAN         50
 9. Purdue           47.5
10. Indiana          35.5
    Michigan State   35.5
12. Wisconsin         9

Michigan Results (Day 1)
Numbers listed are tournament seedings

125 pounds -- Grant Pizzo
First Round - major dec. by #3 Nico Megaludis (Penn State), 12-3
Consolations - dec. by #5 Levi Mele (Northwestern), 5-0
Eliminated with a 0-2 record

133 pounds - #6 Zac Stevens
First Round - pinned Jameson Oster (Northwestern), 1:38
Quarterfinals - dec. by #3 B.J. Futrell (Illinois), 10-5
Consolations - pinned Brandon Fifield (Michigan State), 1:30
Consolations - major dec. #7 Ridge Kiley (Nebraska), 11-2
Consolations - vs. #5 Cashé Quiroga (Purdue)

141 pounds - #1 Kellen Russell
First Round - Bye
Quarterfinals - dec. #8 Bryan Pearsall (Penn State), 6-0
Semifinals - dec. #4 Nick Dardanes (Minnesota), 3-1 SV
Final - vs. #3 Montell Marion (Iowa)

149 pounds - #2 Eric Grajales
First Round - Bye
Quarterfinals - dec. #7 Eric Terrazas (Illinois), 6-2
Semifinals - dec. by #3 Dylan Ness (Minnesota), 9-7
Consolations - vs. #5 Cam Tessari (Ohio State)

157 pounds - Brandon Zeerip
First Round - dec. by #8 Jackson Morse (Illinois), 5-3
Consolations - dec. by #7 Tommy Churchard (Purdue), 3-2
Eliminated with a 0-2 record

165 pounds - #6 Dan Yates
First Round - dec. David Cheza (Michigan State), 11-4
Quarterfinals - major dec. by #3 Robert Kokesh (Nebraska), 12-4
Consolations - major dec. Kyle Mosier (Purdue), 14-2
Consolations - dec. by #7 Cody Yohn (Minnesota), 7-2
Seventh Place - vs. David Cheza (Michigan State)

174 pounds - #4 Justin Zeerip
First Round - Bye
Quarterfinals - dec. by #5 Nick Heflin (Ohio State), 3-1
Consolations - tech. fall Drake Stein (Purdue), 16-1 (7:00)
Consolations - dec. by #8 Jordan Blanton (Illinois), 3-2
Seventh Place - vs. #6 Curran Jacobs (Michigan State)

184 pounds - Dave Johnson
First Round - dec. by #5 C.J. Mangrum (Ohio State), 6-4
Consolations - dec. by #6 Braden Atwood (Purdue), 6-2
Eliminated with a 0-2 record

197 pounds - #4 Max Huntley
First Round - Bye
Quarterfinals - dec. by #5 Mario Gonzalez (Illinois), 6-4
Consolations - dec. Nick McDiarmid (Michigan State), 8-4
Consolations - dec. by #1 Sonny Yohn (Minnesota), 2-0
Seven Place - vs. #7 James Nakashima (Nebraska)

Heavyweight - #3 Ben Apland
First Round - Bye
Quarterfinals - dec. by #6 Bobby Telford (Iowa), 6-4)
Consolations - dec. by Cole Tobin (Wisconsin), 7-1
Qualifying Match* - pinned Pat Walker (Illinois) 4:54
Eliminated with a 0-2 record

* Does not count toward Big Ten team scoring

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

Sign up for Michigan Insider to be the first to learn about 2017-18 Michigan wrestling ticket opportunities.