Russell Reaches Second Straight 141-Pound NCAA Final
Zac Stevens

March 16, 2012

Notes | Photo Gallery  | Kellen Russell (YouTube)

Site: St. Louis, Mo. (Scottrade Center)
Event: NCAA Championships (Day 2 of 3)
U-M Team Standing: 10th of 70 Teams (34 points) after Day 2
Next U-M Event: Saturday, March 17 -- at NCAA Championships - Day 2 (St. Louis, Mo.), 10 a.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- University of Michigan fifth-year senior Kellen Russell (High Bridge, N.J./Blair Academy) will have an opportunity to defend his 141-pound title after rallying to claim his semifinal match on the second day of competition at the NCAA Wrestling Championships on Friday (March 16) at the Scottrade Center. With a pair of Wolverines securing All-America status, U-M sits in 10th place with 34 points.

Russell will face Iowa's third-seeded Montell Marion in tomorrow's final, which begin at 6:30 p.m. CDT on ESPN. Russell is 3-0 all-time against Marion, most recently defeating the Hawkeye wrestling, 7-2, in the Big Ten final two weeks ago.

Russell, the top seed at 141 pounds, avenged his only loss of the last two seasons in the semifinal round, rallying to defeat Ohio State's fifth-seeded Hunter Stieber, 5-2. Stieber struck first, about a minute into the first period, on a throw by to a single leg, but Russell escaped quickly and again early in the second to even the score. He took his first advantage midway through the middle frame, wrapping up a single leg out of a duck-under attempt before riding out the period and the entirety of the third to accumulate 2:24 in time advantage and seal his return trip to the finals.

The Wolverine captain knocked off Minnesota's ninth-seeded Nick Dardanes, 7-3, in the morning quarterfinal round behind three takedowns -- one in each frame. He struck quickly, converting on a duck under just 20 seconds into the bout and padded his advantage with a high crotch midway through the second. He spent most of the match's final 20 seconds defending a deep single shot but scrambled to come around top himself, icing the bout with another last-second takedown.

Senior Zac Stevens (Monroe, Mich./Monroe HS), in his third and final appearance at the NCAA Championships, registered a decisive win in his first consolation match at 133 pounds, defeating Edinboro's seventh-seeded A.J. Schopp, 9-5, to secure his first-ever All-America citation.

Stevens struck on a pair of takedowns in the first period, scoring first on an early hip toss before adding a head in the hole late in the frame. After Schopp picked top in the third following a scoreless second period, Stevens switched for a quick reversal and padded his lead with another takedown midway through the period. He allowed a throwaway takedown at the buzzer but added a point for riding time.

Stevens gave up a pair of pins in his other day-two matches, including a quarterfinal loss to Oklahoma State's top-seeded Jordan Oliver in the morning round. Oliver converted on a single leg on the edge about a minute into the match and after tilting Stevens for two back points, wrapped up a cradle to end the bout at 2:34.

Michigan lost a pair of decisions in the All-America round as junior/sophomore Eric Grajales(Brandon, Fla./Brandon HS) and fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip (Fremont, Mich./Hesperia HS) finished just a match shy at 149 and 174 pounds, respectively.

Grajales dropped both of his day-two matches, including a lopsided 12-5 decision to fourth-seeded Donnie Vinson from Binghamton in the evening round. Vinson built a sizable early advantage in the first period, scoring a takedown, reversal and two back points, and despite scoring an early reversal of his own, Grajales couldn't recover. The Wolverine lost to Penn State's top-seeded Frank Molinaro, 10-2, in the quarterfinal, hanging close through the first half of the match before giving up three takedowns and a two-point near fall in the second half.

Zeerip won his first two consolation matches on the day before falling to Iowa's fifth-seeded Ethen Lofthouse, 5-2, in the evening session. The Hawkeye wrestler used a third-period takedown and 2:04 in riding-time advantage to provide the difference. Zeerip battled to close decisions during the morning wrestlebacks, including a 3-1 overtime win over Pittsburgh's Ethan Headlee on a single leg with 21 seconds remaining in the extra frame.

The Wolverines also lost a pair of wrestlers out of the morning wrestlebacks as junior/sophomore Dan Yates (Hesperia, Mich./Hesperia HS) and senior/junior Ben Apland (Woodridge, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) dropped their second losses of the tournament. Apland lost a heartbreaker in his second match of the day, falling to Nebraska's 11th-seeded Tucker Lane, 3-1, in overtime. Apland appeared to have control in a headlock position midway through the extra frame but was awarded no points before Lane slipped his head out to score the takedown.

The NCAA Championships will resume tomorrow (Saturday, March 17) with the fifth session starting at 10 a.m. CDT at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. The morning session will feature third-, fifth- and seventh-place matches. The finals will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CDT and will be televised live on ESPN.

Team Standings (After Day 2)

 1. Penn State     124
 2. Minnesota      101.5
 3. Iowa            93
 4. Cornell         86
 5. Ohio State      60
 6. Illinois        57.5
    Lehigh          57.5
 8. Oklahoma State  57
 9. Virginia Tech   35
10. MICHIGAN        34

U-M Results (Day 2)
Numbers listed are tournament seedings

133 pounds - #8 Zac Stevens
Quarterfinals - pinned by #1 Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State), 2:34
Consolations - dec. #7 A.J. Schopp (Edinboro), 9-5
Consolations - pinned by #6 Devin Carter (Virginia Tech), 1:42
Seventh Place - vs. #11 Steven Keith (Harvard)

141 pounds - #1 Kellen Russell
Quarterfinals - dec. #9 Nick Dardanes (Minnesota), 7-3
Semifinals - dec. #5 Hunter Stieber (Ohio State), 5-2
Final - vs. #3 Montell Marion (Iowa)

149 pounds - #8 Eric Grajales
Quarterfinals - major dec. by #1 Frank Molinaro (Penn State), 10-2
Consolations - dec. by #4 Donnie Vinson (Binghamton), 12-5
Eliminated with a 2-2 record

165 pounds - Dan Yates
Consolations - dec. by Kyle Blevins (Appalachian State), 3-1
Eliminated with a 1-2 record

174 pounds - #11 Justin Zeerip
Consolations - dec. Jim Resnick (Rider), 5-2
Consolations - dec. Ethan Headlee (Pittsburgh), 3-1 SV
Consolations - dec. by #5 Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa), 5-2
Eliminated with a 3-2 record

Heavyweight - Ben Apland
Consolations - dec. Steve Andrus (Michigan State), 7-2
Consolations - dec. by #11 Tucker Lane (Nebraska), 3-1 SV
Eliminated with a 2-2 record

Day 1 Results

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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