March 22, 2014
Site: Oklahoma City, Okla. (Chesapeake Energy Arena)
Event: NCAA Championships (Day 3 of 3)
U-M Team Standing: 17th Place of 72 Teams (35 points)
Next U-M Event: Season Complete
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Fifth-year senior Eric Grajales (Brandon, Fla./Brandon HS) and senior/junior Steve Dutton (Miller Place, N.Y./Rocky Point HS) finished out the NCAA Championships with wins, claiming third at 149 pounds and seventh at 141, respectively, on Saturday (March 22) at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Wolverines finished in 17th place with 35 points.
Grajales closed out his collegiate career with a win, earning a 4-2 decision over Edinboro's eighth-seeded David Habat in the third-place medal match. After just missing on an early single-leg attempt, Grajales, seeded ninth, converted on his second, dropping down on a single and finishing the takedown on the edge midway through the opening frame. He rode out the remainder of the period but lost his time advantage with Habat reversed him in the third. The Fighting Scot wrestler let him go late but could not score again as Grajales held on for the decision. It was his second win over Habat in the tournament.
Grajales rallied late to defeat Lehigh's 15th-seeded Mitch Minotti, 6-4, in the consolation semifinals. The Wolverine senior struck first, scoring on a first-period single leg on the edge, but Minotti reversed and rode out the period before adding a second-period takedown to carry a narrow lead into the third. Minotti selected the bottom position and Grajales took advantage, cradling him up midway through the frame to collect three back points. With the win, Grajales avenged his previous season loss to Minotti in the Midlands final.
Dutton used a similar third-period rally to defeat Franklin & Marshall's Richard Durso, 6-5, in the seventh-place bout at 141 pounds. After giving up a takedown in the first period and a reversal in the second, Dutton trailed by four points -- including riding time -- in the third when he scrambled out of a Durso leg attack and locked up a cradle for five points. The wrestlers went off the mat to force a restart with 21 seconds remaining, and Dutton stayed on top, riding out the match to seal the decision win.
Both Wolverines garnered NCAA All-America honors for the first time in their careers. They earned the 175th and 176th All-Americancitations in program history and 43rd and 44th under head coach Joe McFarland's tenure. Michigan has boasted at least one All-American in 21 of the last 23 seasons.
Top-20 Teams (After Session V)
1. Penn State 109.5 2. Minnesota 104 3. Oklahoma State 96.5 4. Iowa 78.5 5. Edinboro 62 6. Ohio State 57 7. Cornell 53 8. Virginia Tech 49 9. Northwestern 46 10. Oklahoma 45 11. Nebraska 43.5 12. Iowa State 42 13. Illinois 41 14. Missouri 40.5 15. UNI 40 16. Wisconsin 36 17. MICHIGAN 35 18. Lehigh 29.5 19. NC State 24 20. Maryland 21
U-M Results (Day 3)
Numbers listed are tournament seedings
141 -- #13 Steve Dutton
Seventh Place - dec. #12 Richard Durso (Franklin & Marshall), 6-5
Finished in seventh place with a 5-2 record
149 -- #9 Eric Grajales
Consolations - dec. #15 Mitch Minotti (Lehigh), 6-4
Third Place - dec. #8 David Habat (Edinboro), 4-2
Finish in third place with a 6-1 record
N O T E S
Fifth-year senior Eric Grajales, seeded ninth at 149 pounds, earned four wins over higher-seeded opponents en route to third place, most notably back-to-back wins over Cornell's third-seeded Chris Villalonga and Oklahoma's fourth-seeded Kendric Maple in last night wrestlebacks.
Grajales improved to 3-0 in career meetings against Edinboro's David Habat.
Grajales previously fell to Lehigh's Mitch Minotti, 5-4, this season in the 149-pound final at the Midlands Championships.
Senior/junior Steve Dutton, seeded 13th at 141 pounds, earned two wins over higher-seeded opponents.
Dutton improved to 3-0 in career meetings against Frankin & Marshall's Richard Durso. The two had previously met when Dutton wrestled for Lehigh.
The Wolverine duo's All-America accolades up Michigan's overall program total to 176 since 1928. U-M ranks fifth among all Division I programs in the category.
Grajales finished his collegiate career with an 89-42 record. Fifth-year senior Dan Yates, who was eliminated yesterday, wrapped his career with a 113-48 mark. Both were four-time NCAA qualifiers.
In his 14 years at the helm of the Wolverine wrestling program, head coach Joe McFarland has guided 21 different wrestlers to five NCAA titles, 44 All-America honors and 17 Big Ten individual crowns.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Joe McFarland
On Eric Grajales' All-America performance ... "He had a great weekend. He lost a tough one in the quarters and was able to put that behind him, regroup and accomplish what he was capable of doing. He's had trouble in the past bouncing back in the past because he hangs onto losses a little bit. But you've got to have amnesia at this tournament. You've got to understand the importance of putting it behind you and getting ready for your next bout, because the guys that can't are the ones up in the stands. He earned all these matches. None of these matches were very easy for him. He had to dig down deep and do some things that were challenging -- win those third periods, turn guys, get riding points. When you break it down, it was a pretty incredible performance."
On Steve Dutton's All-America performance ... "I think Steve had a great tournament. He fought his way back, dug down deep and won some tough matches against tough kids. That seventh-place match was a perfect example. He was in a tough situation going into the third period, needing some points to win. He got that takedown into a cradle and turned the kid. That's a gutsy performance. I think he got the monkey off his back. He's an All-America. In our sport, that's every kid's dream. Now he can focus on continuing to get better and get ready for next year so he can be right in the hunt."
On the team performance ... "I think it was a great experience for our young guys to come in here, but historically this tournament has been tough on freshmen. I just weren't scoring like we should have been scoring. In some cases, we were wrestling not to lose. We need that hunger to go out and score points and dominate. A lot of our young guys didn't do what they needed to do to put themselves in a position to win. I think they saw a good dose of what that entails -- you've got to take risks and extend yourself in these matches. We didn't do that to the degree we needed to in a lot of those losses we took."
On individuals building from disappointing finishes ... "It should be a motivator for them. None of these guys are happy at all about not making the podium. You've got to carry that feeling and remember it every time things get difficult in a training session, every time you need to get up early in the offseason for a run. You've got to think about where you want to be next year and think about how that felt when you exited early from the tournament. If you're a champion, you use these experiences as motivators, and I think all these guys will do that."
U-M Fifth-Year Senior Eric Grajales
On finishing the tournament with four straight wins ... "I just wanted to go out there and go after it. Coach [Donny] Pritzlaff said to me after one of my earlier matches that I don't perform when I wait and wrestle defensive; I win matches when I go out and chase the other guy and go after what I want. I tried to concentrate on that, and it really helped me be successful these last four matches. After that quarterfinal loss, I had to go back to my hotel room and question myself. I was able to come out and prove to myself more than anything what I was capable of."
On his feeling during his Round of 12 match ... "I felt a lot better after. My nerves were all over the place. But once I got that lead, got on top and started controlling the match, I felt really comfortable. That's where I'm good -- when I'm comfortable and forcing action. It made me confident toward the end of the match.
On finally earning All-America honors ... "It's a great feeling. I'm happy, and I'm satisfied. I've got a smile on my face, and it'll stay there for a little while."
U-M Senior/Junior Steve Dutton
On his seventh-place win ... "I wish I had scored as many points in the first and second period as I did in the third, but you take what you can get. I didn't wrestle great early on, but you've just got to find a way to win. I came out on top. In my mind, you always want to end on an odd number; you don't want to end your season with a loss. I've done that before, and while some might say that's a good motivator, I'd much rather end the season on a high note."
On earning All-America honors after a tough two seasons with injury ... "It's a relief and it's something to build on. You always have really high expectations for yourself. I certainly did coming in here this weekend. Seventh is great; being an All-American is great, but I want to build on that next year and be on the top of the podium."
On his overall tournament performance ... "Overall, it was pretty good. I tried to keep that mindset of 'one more match.' It was disappointing to lose in the round of 16 to [Devin] Carter, but he made the final and good luck to him. Losing last night was also disappointing. I'd have much rather finished higher than seventh, but I'll take it this year and build on it. There's always room for improvement, and that'll be my goal next year."
Contact: Leah Howard (firstname.lastname@example.org)