Stevens, Russell, Grajales Advance to NCAA Quarterfinals
Eric Grajales

March 16, 2012

Photo Gallery 
• Postmeet Video (YouTube): Zac Stevens | Kellen Russell

Site: St. Louis, Mo. (Scottrade Center)
Event: NCAA Championships (Day 1 of 3)
U-M Team Standing: Tie-13th Place (15 points) after Day 1
Next U-M Event: Friday, March 16 -- at NCAA Championships - Day 2 (St. Louis, Mo.), 10 a.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The University of Michigan wrestling team advanced three individuals to the quarterfinal round of the 2012 NCAA Championships on Thursday (March 15) at the Scottrade Center. With another three wrestlers still alive in the wrestlebacks, the Wolverines sit in 13th place (15 points) after the first day of competition.

Senior Zac Stevens (Monroe, Mich./Monroe HS), fifth-year senior Kellen Russell (High Bridge, N.J./Blair Academy) and junior/sophomore Eric Grajales (Brandon, Fla./Brandon HS) all posted perfect 2-0 first-day records to advance to the quarterfinals. It will be the second NCAA quarterfinal appearance in as many years for Russell and Grajales -- Russell also appeared as a freshman -- and the first for Stevens.

Stevens, seeded eighth at 133 pounds, won a wild one over Purdue's ninth-seeded Cashe Quiroga, 14-9, in the second round, taking advantage of a sizable early advantage and withstanding a late surge by the Boilermaker wrestler. After scoring on a quick takedown in the first, Stevens added seven points in the second on a takedown and five back points, catching Quiroga rolling for two then adding three more late. The Boilermaker converted on three takedowns, predominantly out of flurries, in the third period, but Stevens used a reversal, two escapes and 1:04 in time advantage to hang on.

Stevens used a late surge of his own to claim his first-round match, 5-0, against Cornell's Nick Arujau. After a scoreless first period and getting ridden for most of the second, Stevens took the bout's first lead on a reversal late in the middle frame. Starting on top in the third, he fought to stay in control before flattening Arujau out on a restart midway through and using a leg turk to tack on three back points.

Russell, the top seeded and defending NCAA champion at 141 pounds, cruised to a 10-2 major decision over Hofstra's Luke Vaith in the evening session, using four takedowns, including two in the opening period, to control the match from start to finish. After finishing on a double leg late in the third period, he rode out the remainder of the match to seal up the bonus point.

The Wolverine captain converted on a pair of takedowns to ease past Missouri's Nick Hucke, 6-1, in the first round. Russell finished a single leg in the first and, after losing and regaining his riding-time advantage, he locked up a cradle out of a third-period scramble, earning the takedown but unable to take it over for back points. He ended the bout with 1:35 in time advantage.

Grajales, seeded eighth at 149 pounds, took advantage of an early score to claim a 4-1 decision over Virginia Tech's Nick Brascetta in the second round. The Wolverine finished on an arm about a minute into the opening period and rode for time advantage before allowing an escape late in the frame. He picked up an escape of his own in the second and scooted of a late single-leg attack to keep the third period scoreless.

Grajales claimed a busy but low-scoring match in the morning session, edging Penn's Stephen Robertson, 3-0, on a second-period takedown. The wrestlers traded several scoring opportunities in the first frame, before Grajales broke through in the second, countering a single-leg shot to come around and drive through a single leg of his own for the match's lone takedown.

Junior/sophomore Dan Yates (Hesperia, Mich./Hesperia HS) and fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip (Fremont, Mich./Hesperia HS) both sacrificed early advantages in losing back-to-back heartbreakers against seeded opponents in the second round.

After scoring on an early single leg and riding for time advantage, Yates led his 165-pound match against Wyoming's second-seeded Shane Onufer deep into the third period. The Cowboy wrestler evened the score, however, on a reversal midway through the final frame, rode off Yates' riding-time advantage and subsequently turned the Wolverine for three points in the closing 10 seconds of the bout to win 6-3.

Zeerip struck first against Cal Poly's sixth-seeded Ryan DesRoches, finishing on a single leg about a minute in, but the Mustang wrestler evened the score late in the with single leg of his own. The wrestlers traded escapes in the second and third and after a scoreless sudden-victory period, DesRoches earned a quick escape in the tiebreaker before riding out Zeerip to win 5-4.

Yates and Zeerip won their first-round matches in similar fashion, scoring on single-leg takedowns in the first period.

Senior/junior heavyweight Ben Apland (Woodridge, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) also split his first-day matches, earning a 5-0 decision against Pittsburgh's P.J. Tasser in the evening session to bounce back from a first-round loss. Apland converted on late takedowns in both the first and second periods against Tasser, including a double leg in the final 10 seconds of the first to claim the only lead he needed.

Sophomore/freshman Max Huntley (Emerald Isle, N.C./Blair Academy) was eliminated from the competition after dropping a pair of decision losses.

Michigan will return competition for the NCAA Championships' third session on Friday (March 16) at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. The morning session begins at 10 a.m. CDT and will feature quarterfinal matches and continued wrestleback competition.

Team Standings (After Day 1)

 1. Penn State	     38.5
 2. Minnesota	     33
 3. Oklahoma State   28.5
 4. Cornell          27.5
 5. Iowa             26
 6. Illinois	     23
 7. Oklahoma	     19.5
 8. Ohio State	     19
 9. Lehigh           18
    Nebraska	     18
    Northwestern     18
12. Wyoming          17.5
13. MICHIGAN	     15
    American	     15

U-M Results (Day 1)
Numbers listed are tournament seedings

133 pounds - #8 Zac Stevens
First Round - dec. Nick Arujau (Cornell), 5-0
Second Round - dec. #9 Cashe Quiroga (Purdue), 14-9
Quarterfinals - vs. #1 Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State)

141 pounds - #1 Kellen Russell
First Round - dec. Nick Hucke (Missouri), 6-1
Second Round - major dec. Luke Vaith (Hofstra), 10-2
Quarterfinals - vs. #9 Nick Dardanes (Minnesota)

149 pounds - #8 Eric Grajales
First Round - dec. Stephen Robertson (Penn), 3-0
Second Round - dec. Nick Brascetta (Virginia Tech), 4-1
Quarterfinals - vs. #1 Frank Molinaro (Penn State)

165 pounds - Dan Yates
First Round - dec. Tristan Warner (Old Dominion), 3-1
Second Round - dec. by #2 Shane Onufer (Wyoming), 6-3
Consolations - vs. Kyle Blevins (Appalachian State)

174 pounds - #11 Justin Zeerip
First Round - dec. Greg Zannetti (Rutgers), 3-2
Second Round - dec. by #6 Ryan DesRoches (Cal Poly), 5-4 TB
Consolations - vs. Jim Resnick (Rider)

197 pounds - Max Huntley
First Round - dec. by #6 Brent Haynes (Missouri), 5-0
Consolations - dec. by Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State), 3-2
Eliminated with a 0-2 record

Heavyweight - Ben Apland
First Round - dec. by #3 Clayton Jack (Oregon State), 4-1
Consolations - P.J. Tasser (Pittsburgh)

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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