March 16, 2012
N O T E S
Michigan will send a wrestler to the NCAA finals for the eighth time in eight years.
The Wolverines have boasted at least one NCAA All-American in 20 of the last 21 seasons.
Michigan's two All-Americans are the programs most since crowning three in 2008-09.
Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell extended his win streak to 25 straight matches.
With his win in the semifinals, Russell improved to 133-12 in his collegiate career and took sole possession of the 11th spot among Michigan's all-time winningest wrestlers. He needs one more win to reach the eighth spot, currently held by Joe Pantaleo (1985-89), Airron Richardson (1995-98) and Greg Wagner (2002-06).
Russell lost to OSU's Hunter Stieber, 6-5, in the quarterfinal round of this season Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 2. It was his only loss in two seasons -- a span of 72 matches.
Senior Zac Stevens previously lost to Edinboro's A.J. Schopp, 4-0, at the Michigan State Open on Nov. 13.
Fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip ended his career with a 100-68 record. With his final win, he became the 35th Wolverine wrestle to tally 100 career victories.
Q U O T E S
U-M Fifth-Year Senior Kellen Russell
On giving up the early lead in his semifinal match ... "I was just upset with myself, because I knew I had to push my shots and I wasn't doing it. Probably was good it happened at first there, kind of got me rolling for the rest of the match. It was big that I got my escape right away. I knew I was going to have to get to his legs. I knew I had to score a takedown to win. Once I got to his legs, I was pretty confident, even though I know he's pretty good at rolling around. I felt good."
On wrestling particularly well of late ... "I think starting from Big Ten finals to now, it's been the best matches I've wrestled in a long time, just because I'm being more offensive, I'm opening up a little more, taking shots. It's leading me to score more points. So I think overall, I'm wrestling better. I'm still not giving up a lot of points."
On being more aggressive ... "It's kind of one of those things that you live right on the edge. When you win by a point, you never know what's going to happen. I learned that in Vegas when I wrestled [Hunter] Stieber last time. I was probably looking to go into overtime, but I ended up losing by a point instead. After that, I decided it's time to change my mindset, go out there, score my points, attack more. My senior year, it's more fun to win those matches by a couple points than just one point in overtime."
On facing Iowa's Montell Marion for the second time in two weeks ... "I had a pretty big game plan. I'm sure he'll come back with something different. I just need to keep my attacks going. It should be an exciting match. All I want to do is be more offensive, whether it's attacking a single or high crotch. The main plan is to stay offensive."
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