Notes & Quotes: NCAA Championships (Day 3)

March 17, 2012

Recap |  Photo Gallery 


• Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell joins Snip Nalan (1953, '54), Dave Porter (1966, '68), Jarrett Hubbard (1973, '74), Mark Churella (1977, '78, '79) and Ryan Bertin (2003, '05) as Michigan's multiple-time NCAA champions.

• With his 134-12 career record, Russell shares the eighth position among U-M's all-time winningest wrestlers with Joe Pantaleo (1985-89), Airron Richardson (1995-98) and Greg Wagner (2002-06). His career winning percentage of .918 trails only Dave Porter (.944, 1966-68).

• With 22 NCAA individual trophies, U-M ranks seventh among all NCAA Division I programs.

• Michigan has also boasted at least one finalist in seven of the last eight seasons. The Wolverines have won their last three individual trips to the NCAA finals.

• Russell and senior Zac Stevens' All-America accolades up Michigan's overall program total to 174 since 1928. U-M ranks fifth among all Division I programs in the category.

• In his 12 years at the helm of the Wolverine wrestling program, head coach Joe McFarland has guided 19 different wrestlers to five NCAA titles, 42 All-America honors and 17 Big Ten individual crowns.

• This weekend's total attendance of 112,393 sets a new NCAA Wrestling Championships record, while tonight's 18,919 attendance set a new single-session record.


Michigan Head Coach Joe McFarland
On Kellen Russell's finals match ... "It was a nail biter. To see him keep his composure and his focus and gut out another tough victory against a tough opponent, that is impressive. I'm very proud of him. Ever since we walked into our room, he's been a low-maintenance guy, totally focused on doing the right things, and he's been a great role model and leader in program. It's incredible to see him win his second NCAA title. That on top of four Big Ten titles. What an outstanding career."

On senior Zac Stevens ... "I'm really proud of him, and I'm very happy for him. Over the years, I've seen the effort that he's put into it and the leadership that he's contributed to the program. I couldn't be happier for him. He just continued to get better and improve over his career. Some of that was him believing that he deserved to be there. I was proud of the way he did it. He came back through the wrestlebacks and beat two kids that he had lost to during the season and just really gutted out some close wins to get on that podium."

U-M Fifth-Year Senior Kellen Russell
On the difference between this year and last year's NCAA title performances ... "I think I wrestled a lot better this whole tournament. I kept the matches from being so close. The final was really close. He had a pretty good game plan to keep that one leg back. That's what I was taking him down with at Big Tens. Overall, I think I controlled it pretty well. I gave up one takedown, fell asleep a little bit. But the whole tournament I felt more comfortable and confident in my shots and everything. It's good to be here a couple times before."

On going into overtime ... "I didn't want to go into overtime. I gave up that takedown, and he went into defense after that. It's always harder when a guy defends you pretty hard. He usually comes pretty hard at me. He changed the game plan a little bit. In overtime, I didn't want to go into the tiebreaker again. I knew I needed to take him down, get it done and get my offense going."

On missing riding-time advantage by one second ... "It didn't disappoint me. I didn't do what I had to do on top. I didn't want to win on riding time. I wanted to get that takedown; I wanted to score those points. It was kind of a bummer I had to go into overtime, but it feels a lot better to win on getting that takedown rather than the riding time."

On Iowa's Montell Marion ... "A lot of guys are a little more defensive with me, but him and I always kind of went at it, butted heads. He's a great competitor, really good wrestler. All of our matches were always tough. There were some takedowns. He's not usually an easy takedown to score, so his matches are always fun. You know there's going to be some scrambles, getting in and out of shots. It's wrestling. He's just a great competitor."

On the addition of assistant coaches Sean Bormet and Donny Pritzlaff ... "They just bring the level of competition up in the room. They expect so much in the room, whether you're a true freshman that didn't even place at states or if you're returning national champ. They have the same expectation for everybody, and that raises the competitive level in the room. It definitely helped me get to the point where I am right now, where I'm scoring more, going into overtime less often -- not never -- but less often for sure. Without them, I don't think I would have that same attack on my feet and the drive to score the whole time."

On his legacy at Michigan ... "I never really thought about it. I don't think about it too much. I see guys like Mark Churella Sr., who comes in once in a while; to me he's like a hero -- three-time national champ and he's a great guy. I don't really look at myself that way. I'm really thankful for the people who got me to Michigan and the guys who came before me, because without them I definitely wouldn't be where I am today. Hopefully, I can just kind of have that impact on some guys that are coming in and try to mentor them like they mentored me and make sure they're making the right decisions, off the mat as well as on the mat."

U-M Senior Zac Stevens
On his tournament performance ... "I gave up two pins this weekend, so you're never going to be too happy about that. In the matches that I won, I went out and scored a lot of points. I gave up a lot of points this weekend. These guys are good. I just really opened up a lot. I felt like I left it all out on the line. I wanted to be aggressive. When you're aggressive, with my offense, you're going to score points and you're going to give up some points."

On his seventh-place match ... "I had the match won; I was up by five. I locked up a bottom cradle. I told Donny [Pritzlaff] before the match that I wanted to get the pin so I'd have the most pins on the team. So, Donny and Joe were yelling for me to go for it. I put him on his back. Good thing I got the count and didn't have to go into overtime."

On earning his first All-America honor ... "If you look at all my results throughout my career -- in high school, I was 7th-3rd-2nd-1st in the state. Here I didn't qualify my freshman year then I went 0-2 as a sophomore, 2-2 as a junior and placed as a senior. I was just getting a little better every year. I expected to be an All-American. I came out here wanting to win the tournament. It didn't happen. But you have to be happy with getting on the podium."

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