Four-Time Champ: Russell Claims 141-Pound Big Ten Title
Kellen Russell

March 4, 2012

Photo Gallery  | Highlights

Site: West Lafayette, Ind. (Mackey Arena)
Event: Big Ten Championships (Day 2 of 2)
U-M Team Standing: 7th Place of 12 Teams (66 points)
Next U-M Event: Thu-Sat., March 15-17 -- at NCAA Championships (St. Louis, Mo.)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell (High Bridge, N.J./Blair Academy) of the 14th-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team defeated Iowa's Montell Marion, 7-2, in the 141-pound title match at the Big Ten Championships Sunday (March 4) at Mackey Arena, becoming the first four-time conference champ in program history. He was also named Co-Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships, sharing it with Frank Molinaro, while the Wolverines placed seventh as a team.

Russell finished on three takedowns -- one in each period -- en route to his most lopsided victory in three career meetings against Marion. After getting in on several early single-leg shots, Russell finished one late in the period and rode out the remaining 22 seconds to carry a two-point lead into the second. Third-seeded Marion escaped quickly in the middle frame, but Russell responded with another deep single-leg shot; when the Hawkeye wrestler squared up to scramble, Russell used a bodylock to drive him to the mat.

The wrestlers traded escapes to preserve Russell's three-point advantage early in the third, and after just missing on a double-leg attempt on the edge, the Wolverine captain iced the match in the final seconds, dropping in on a single leg and finishing the takedown with one second left on the board. With the win, Russell improved to 28-1 on the season and extended his win streak to 21 straight matches.

Junior/sophomore Eric Grajales (Brandon, Fla./Brandon HS) won two consolation matches to take third place at 149 pounds, including a 5-1 decision over Indiana's sixth-seeded Taylor Walsh in the placing bout. The Wolverine sophomore, seeded second, scored off bodylocks early in both the first and second periods and spent the remainder of each frame on top. Walsh picked top to start the third and rode out the period, but Grajales still finished with 1:59 in time advantage.

Grajales won a marathon in the consolation semifinals, using an escape and subsequent rideout to defeat Ohio State's fifth-seeded Cam Tessari, 3-2, in the fourth tiebreaker. The two wrestlers exchanged rideouts in the first three tiebreaker rounds, before Grajales broke the deadlock in the fourth, using a hip heist to escape after nine seconds. He remained on top through the next 30-second go, twice returning Tessari to the mat and just hanging on to a leg through a last-second scramble to end the match after 15 minutes.

Senior Zac Stevens (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) used a third-period takedown to edge Purdue's fifth-seeded Cashé Quiroga, 3-2 in the consolation semifinal round. After a scoreless first period, Stevens took the first lead on escape midway through the second. He rode off Quiroga's time advantage under a minute early in the third and off a subsequent restart moments later, drove through a double leg to score the bout's only offensive points.

The Wolverines claimed two of their three seventh-place matches, earning bonus points with a medical forfeit at 165 pounds.

Fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip (Fremont, Mich./Hesperia HS) claimed a lopsided 9-2 decision at 174 pounds over Michigan State's sixth-seeded Curran Jacobs but could not quite finish on another takedown for the major. The Wolverine senior scored the bulk of his points in the first period, striking on an early single leg before taking Jacobs to his back for four points late in the frame. He drew a pair of stall calls while seeking another takedown and accumulated 1:44 in riding-time advantage.

Sophomore/freshman Max Huntley (Emerald Isle, N.C./Blair Academy) was unable to hang onto his early lead in a 5-5 TB2 loss to Nebraska's seventh-seeded James Nakashima in the 197-pound contest. Huntley took the initial lead on a single leg late in the first period, but Nakashima evened the score with a reversal in the waning seconds of the frame. The wrestlers traded escapes in regulation and each of the tiebreaker rounds, but Nakashima's one second of time advantage made the difference.

The Wolverines will take a two-week break to prepare for the NCAA Championships, scheduled for March 15-17 in St. Louis, Mo. Michigan will send at least six wrestlers to the national event and have an opportunity to add another when wild cards are announced on Wednesday (March 7).

Final Team Standings

 1. Penn State     149
 2. Minnesota      134
 3. Iowa           126
 4. Illinois       105.5
 5. Ohio State      91
 6. Northwestern    75
 7. MICHIGAN        66
 8. Nebraska        65
 9. Purdue          51.5
10. Indiana         41
    Michigan State  41
12. Wisconsin        9

Michigan Results (Day 2)
Numbers listed are tournament seedings

133 pounds - #6 Zac Stevens
Consolations - dec. #5 Cashé Quiroga (Purdue), 3-2
Third Place - dec. by #3 B.J. Futrell (Illinois), 6-5
Finished in fourth place with a 4-2 record

141 pounds - #1 Kellen Russell
Final - dec. #3 Montell Marion (Iowa), 7-2
Finished as the 141-pound champion with a 3-0 record

149 pounds - #2 Eric Grajales
Consolations - dec. #5 Cam Tessari (Ohio State), 3-2 TB4
Third Place - dec. #6 Taylor Walsh (Indiana), 5-1
Finished in third place with a 3-1 record

165 pounds - #6 Dan Yates
Seventh Place - win by forfeit over David Cheza (Michigan State)
Finished in seventh place with a 3-2 record

174 pounds - #4 Justin Zeerip
Seventh Place - dec. #6 Curran Jacobs (Michigan State), 9-2
Finished in seventh place with a 2-2 record

197 pounds - #4 Max Huntley
Seven Place - dec. by #7 James Nakashima (Nebraska), 5-5 TB2
Finished in eighth place with a 1-3 record

Day 1 Results

Big Ten Award Winners
Wrestler of the Year: David Taylor, PSU
Coach of the Year: Cael Sanderson, PSU
Freshman of the Year: Logan Steiber, OSU
Wrestlers of the Championships: Kellen Russell, U-M, Frank Molinaro, PSU


• The Big Ten Network will replay its broadcast of the championship round at noon on Monday (March 5).

• Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell became just the 11th four-time Big Ten champion in conference history and the first since Iowa's Mark Ironside accomplished the feat from 1995-98.

Four-time Big Ten Champions
Wrestler, SchoolYears (Wgts)
Verne Gagne, Minnesota1944 (175), 1947 (HWT), 1948 (191),1949 (HWT)
Arnold Plaza, Purdue1947, 1949-50 (121), 1948 (114 1/2)
Joe Scarpello, Iowa1947-48-49-50 (175)
Tom Milkovich, Michigan State1970-71 (134), 1972-73 (142)
Mike DeAnna, Iowa1977-78-79-81 (167)
Ed Banach, Iowa1980-81-82 (177), 1983 (190)
Barry Davis, Iowa1981-82, (118), 1983-85 (126)
Duane Goldman, Iowa1983-84 (177), 1985-86 (190)
Jim Heffernan, Iowa1983-85-86-87 (155)
Mark Ironside, Iowa1995-96-97-98 (134)

• Russell is the first-ever four-time Big Ten champion in Michigan program history. The Wolverines have had nine three-time champions: Snip Nalen, Mike Rodriguez, Max Pearson, Fritz Kellerman, Bob Fehrs, Jarrett Hubbard, John Fisher, Ryan Churella, Steve Luke.

• With a perfect 3-0 record en route to his 141-pound title, Russell boasts an impressive 14-0 career record at the Big Ten Championships.

• Russell needed overtime to claim both wins over Iowa's Montell Marion last season. He used a four-point move to win 9-5 SV in the road dual meet and persevered through a wild scramble to claim a 3-3 TB decision on 18 seconds of riding time.

• Senior Zac Stevens earned his highest ever Big Ten finish with his fourth-place showing at 133 pounds.

• Junior/sophomore Eric Grajales' 3-2 decision over Ohio State's Cam Tessari in the fourth tiebreaker was the longest match for a Wolverine wrestler under the latest overtime procedure.


U-M Fifth-year Senior Kellen Russell
On his plan for the final match ... "I just wanted to be more offensive and get my shots off. I knew that if I could start off shooting, either forcing something or creating a scramble, I'd be in good shape. (Assistant coach) Sean (Bormet) and (head coach) Joe (McFarland) were in my corner yelling for me to shoot the whole time. They knew he was going to step hard with that one foot, and my single would be there. That was my plan -- to get that single leg as many times I could."

On carrying his Big Ten performance into NCAAs ... "I was more offensive that I was yesterday, and it worked. I didn't get into trouble. I was comfortable. It was a good opportunity for me to see that I can take all those shots. Those shots are going to be there. I just need to be confident and take them."

On winning his fourth Big Ten title ... "It's great, especially for Michigan to have a four-time champ. It's great for the program. It gives me some confidence going into NCAAs in a couple weeks."

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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