Three Semifinalists Headline Wolverines at Cliff Keen Invitational
Justin Zeerip

Dec. 2, 2011

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Site: Las Vegas, Nev. (Las Vegas Convention Center)
Event: Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Day 1 of 2)
U-M Standing: 2nd Place of 34 Teams (65.5 Points) after Day 1
Next U-M Event: Saturday, Dec. 3 -- at Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational - Day Two (Las Vegas, Nev.), 9 a.m. PST

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- With three semifinalists and another five alive in the consolation bracket, the No. 9-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team holds second place (65.5 points) after the first day of competition Friday (Dec. 2) at the annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Wolverines sit 5.5 points behind first-place Ohio State.

Michigan held the team lead for the majority of the first day after posting an incredible 9-0 record in the first round with eight bonus wins, including six pins, but the Wolverines wrapped the day with an inconsistent evening session, winning three of their seven quarterfinal matches.

Senior Zac Stevens (Monroe, Mich./Monroe HS), junior/sophomore Eric Grajales (Brandon, Fla./Brandon HS) and fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip (Fremont, Mich./Hesperia HS) all advanced to the Cliff Keen Invitational semifinal round for the first time in their careers. Grajales and Zeerip both earedn bonus points with big quarterfinal victories at 149 and 174 pounds, respectively.

Grajales avenged one of his two season losses, cruising to a 19-4 technical fall over Indiana's Taylor Walsh. Grajales gained an immediate and significant lead against Walsh with two first-period throws -- a body lock for five points in the opening 15 seconds and a headlock for four points at the buzzer. Grajales scored three takedowns in the second and, after earning a point on a locked-hands call, used an escape to stop the match at the 6:56 mark. The Wolverine wrestler also earned bonus points with a second-round pin against Cal Baptist's Dylan Cataline (2:12).

Zeerip converted on four takedowns -- two in the second period -- to roll past Wisconsin's Frank Cousins Jr., 11-1, in the 174-pound quarterfinal round. Zeerip, seeded fourth, accumulated 5:29 in riding-time advantage and held Cousins to just a second-period escape. The Wolverine senior, who opened the day with quick 28-second fall against Harvard's Bryan Pazano, improved to 9-0 on the season.

Stevens, seeded fifth, kicked off the Wolverines' quarterfinal round with a victory at 133 pounds, edging Oregon State's fourth-seeded Garrett Drucker, 6-2, on takedowns in the first and third periods. He earned bonus points in both of his preliminary matches, pinning Nebraska Kearney's Kazuhiro Fujinara at 5:30 and earning a 16-0 technical fall against Western Wyoming's Richard Serna.

Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell (High Bridge, N.J./Blair Academy), junior/sophomore Brandon Zeerip (Fremont, Mich./Hesperia HS), sophomore/freshman Max Huntley (Emerald Isle, N.C./Blair Academy) and senior/junior Ben Apland (Woodridge, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) lost their quarterfinal bouts to drop into the wrestlebacks. All will need to win their first consolation match tomorrow to ensure top-eight placement.

Russell saw his win streak halted at 46 matches with a 6-5 loss to Ohio State's eighth-seeded Hunter Stieber in the 141-pound quarterfinal round. Russell struck first with a first-period takedown, but Stieber won scrambles in the second and third frames -- the latter coming in the match's final 30 seconds -- to seal the win. The Wolverine captain won big in his first match of the tournament, using five takedowns and six back points to earn a 17-2 technical fall over Drexel's Frank Cimato.

Brandon Zeerip, seeded ninth, lost to Cornell's top-seeded, two-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake, 6-0, in his 157-pound quarterfinal. Dake scored the bulk of his points in the first period on a takedown and two-point near fall and accumulated 1:41 in time advantage. Zeerip picked up a mild upset in the second round, edging Wisconsin's eighth-seeded Shawn Perry, 3-2, on a late takedown.

For the second time in three weeks, Huntley carried a late lead against Pittsburgh's third-seeded Matt Wilps but could not hang on, falling 6-4 after giving up a late takedown and subsequent rideout. Huntley converted on a second-period single leg and earned a reversal midway through the third to gain a late two-point lead. Wilps escaped quickly, however, and immediately finished on a single leg of his own to steal away the match. Huntley earned a decisive 10-5 win over Cal Poly's sixth-seeded Ryan Smith in the second round, scoring on three first-period takedowns and a second-period reversal.

Apland lost to Ohio State's Peter Capone, 5-2, after a tough third period in his heavyweight quarterfinal match. Capone carried a narrow one-point lead into the third but, with Apland starting on the mat, turned the Wolverine wrestler for two and added a late takedown. Apland earned bonus in both of his preliminary matches, including a quick first-period pin against Western Wyoming's Trey Kirk (1:50).

Junior/sophomore Dan Yates (Hesperia, Mich./Hesperia HS) went 3-1 in the morning session, rebounding from a second-round loss with back-to-back wins in the 165-pound consolation bracket. He posted a pair of major decisions, shutting out Indiana's Sawyer Morris, 8-0, in the first round before cruising past Stanford's Bret Baumbach, 11-1, in his first wrestleback match. He closed out the latter bout with a big third period, scoring a reversal and five back points to earn the extra point.

The Wolverines return to the mats tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 3) for the second and final day of competition at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. The morning session, featuring the semifinals and continued wrestlebacks, is slated for a 9 a.m. PST start at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Top 10 Teams (After Day 1)

 1. Ohio State       69
 2. MICHIGAN         63.5
 3. Cornell          61
 4. Wyoming          58
 5. Oregon State     56.5
 6. Edinboro         49
 7. Nebraska         48.5
 8. Hofstra          43.5
 9. Kent State       40.5
10. Cal Poly         39

Michigan Results

125 - Grant Pizzo
First Round - dec. Kory Mines (Edinboro), 8-6
Second Round - dec. by #6 Tyler Iwamura (Cal State Bakersfield), 7-2
Consolations - dec. by Brian Bokoski (North Carolina), 4-1
Eliminated with a 1-2 record

133 - #5 Zac Stevens
First Round - pinned Kazuhiro Fujinara (Nebraska Kearney), 5:30
Second Round - tech. fall Richard Serna (Western Wyoming), 16-0 (5:08)
Quarterfinals - dec. #4 Garrett Drucker (Oregon State), 6-2
Semifinals - vs. #1 Logan Stieber (Ohio State)

141 - #1 Kellen Russell
First Round - tech. fall Frank Cimato (Drexel), 17-2 (6:28)
Second Round - dec. Josh Strait (Boise State), 3-1
Quarterfinals - dec. by #8 Hunter Stieber (Ohio State), 6-5
Consolations - vs. #10 Nathan Pennesi (West Virginia)

149 - #5 Eric Grajales
First Round - Bye
Second Round - pinned Dylan Cataline (Cal Baptist), 2:12
Quarterfinals - tech. fall #4 Taylor Walsh (Indiana), 19-4 (6:56)
Semifinals - vs. David Habat (Edinboro)

157 - #9 Brandon Zeerip
First Round - pinned Elijah Jackson (Cal Poly), 3:43
Second Round - dec. #8 Shawn Perry (Wisconsin), 3-2
Quarterfinals - dec. by #1 Kyle Dake (Cornell), 6-0
Consolations - vs. Corey Mock (North Carolina)

165 - #6 Dan Yates
First Round - major dec. Sawyer Morris (Indiana), 8-0
Second Round - dec. by #11 Stephen Burak (Northern Colorado), 9-6
Consolations - major dec. Bret Baumbach (Stanford), 11-1
Consolations - dec. Kyle DeBerry (Arizona State), 4-0
Consolations - vs. #9 Marshall Peppelman (Cornell)

174 - #4 Justin Zeerip
First Round - pinned Bryan Pazano (Harvard), 0:28
Second Round - dec. Ty Vinson (Oregon State), 8-2
Quarterfinals - major dec. Frank Cousins Jr. (Wisconsin), 11-1
Semifinals - vs. #1 Nick Amuchastegui (Stanford)

184 - Hunter Collins
First Round - injury def. Casey Newburg (Kent State), 2:45
Second Round - pinned by #1 Steve Bosak (Cornell), 2:02
Consolations - dec. by Cody McAninch (Northern Colorado), 8-6
Eliminated with a 1-2 record

197 - Max Huntley
First Round - pinned Hanna Malak (Menlo), 1:01
Second Round - dec. #6 Ryan Smith (Cal Poly), 10-5
Quarterfinals - dec. by #3 Matt Wilps (Pittsburgh), 6-4
Consolations - vs. Lukasz Stala (Cornell)

Hwt - #4 Ben Apland
First Round - pinned Trey Kirk (Western Wyoming), 1:50
Second Round - major dec. L.J. Helbig (Wyoming), 11-3
Quarterfinals - dec. by #12 Peter Capone (Ohio State)
Consolations - Kevin Barrett (Nebraska Kearney)

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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