Five Champions Pace Wolverines to Mat Town Invitational Title
Ben Apland

Dec. 29, 2011

Notes & Quotes

Site: Lock Haven, Pa. (Thomas Fieldhouse)
Event: Mat Town Invitational
U-M Team Standing: 1st Place of 11 Teams (141 Points)
Next U-M Event: Friday, Jan. 6 -- at Northwestern (Evanston, Ill.), 7 p.m. CST

LOCK HAVEN, Pa. -- The No. 8-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team crowned five individual champions en route to the team title at the Mat Town Invitational on Thursday (Dec. 29) at Lock Haven's Thomas Fieldhouse. The Wolverines, who boasted 11 total placewinners, accumulated 141 points in their first Mat Town appearance, finishing 15 points ahead of runner-up Pittsburgh.

Michigan claimed five of its six championship matches, earning shutout victories in all five, as senior Zac Stevens (Monroe, Mich./Monroe HS), fifth-year senior Kellen Russell (High Bridge, N.J./Blair Academy), junior/sophomore Dan Yates (Hesperia, Mich./Hesperia HS), fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip (Fremont, Mich./Hesperia HS) and senior/junior Ben Apland (Woodridge, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) won at 133, 141, 165 and 174 pounds and heavyweight, respectively.

Stevens, Yates and Apland captured their titles in similar fashion, using escapes and rideouts to claim 2-0 shutout decisions in their respective championship matches. Stevens defeated Pittsburgh's 19th-ranked Shelton Mack in the 133-pound championship -- his second win over the Panther wrestler this season -- after riding out the second period and earning an immediate escape in the third. The Wolverine senior, ranked 15th in the latest InterMat poll, earned a pair of bonus wins in the preliminary rounds, including a quick first-period pin against Franklin & Marshall's Robert Ruiz.

Yates earned a mild upset over Drexel's 16th-ranked Joe Booth in the 165-pound final on a second-period escape and subsequent third-period rideout. He opened the tournament with back-to-back major decisions over Drexel's Anson Worrell (14-1) and Bloomsburg's Chris Smith (13-2). The tournament title was the second for Yates this season.

Apland avenged an earlier loss to Kent State's 15th-ranked Brendan Barlow with his 2-0 heavyweight championship win. He earned his points on a second-period rideout and a third-period escape. Apland, ranked 18th, went 3-0 and claimed bonus points on a major decision in the quarterfinals and a semifinal pin over Drexel's Kyle Frey.

Russell went 4-0 with four bonus wins at 141 pounds, including an 8-0 major decision against Kent State's 12th-ranked Tyler Small in the championship. The Wolverine captain, ranked second, converted on takedowns in the first and third periods, earned a third-period reversal and added an escape and riding time to cruise to his second tournament win of the season. Russell is 16-1 on the season.

Zeerip used a big second period to cruise past Pittsburgh's Ethan Headlee in the 174-pound championship, earning a quick escape before finishing on a single leg and riding out the period. He ended the match with 1:10 in time advantage. It was his second win over Headlee this season. Zeerip, ranked fifth, went 3-0 en route to his second tournament title and earned falls in both of his earlier matches. He improved to 14-1 on the season.

Michigan's additional finalist, sophomore/freshman Max Huntley (Emerald Isle, N.C./Blair Academy), dropped a narrow 3-1 decision to Pittsburgh's sixth-ranked Matt Wilps on an early takedown in the 197-pound final. Huntley went 3-1 in the tournament, opening the day with back-to-back pins in the preliminary rounds.

Junior/sophomore Brandon Zeerip (Fremont, Mich./Hesperia HS) rebounded from an overtime pin in the semifinals against seventh-ranked Frank Hickman of Bloomsburg to place third at 157 pounds with a 5-1 record. He defeated Kent State's 20th-ranked Mallie Shuster, 8-4, in the placing match, scoring on a pair of takedowns before adding a two-point near fall.

Junior/sophomore Mike Hillock (Massillon, Ohio/Perry HS), fifth-year senior Dave Johnson (Jenison, Mich./Jenison HS) and senior/junior Hunter Collins (Gilroy, Calif./Gilroy HS) placed fifth at 149, 165 and 184 pounds, respectively, while sophomore/freshman Jake Salazar (Midway, Utah/Wasatch HS) took sixth at 157 pounds to round out U-M's placewinners.

The Wolverines will return to Big Ten Conference competition next weekend with duals against Northwestern and Illinois. U-M will travel to Evanston, Ill., on Friday (Jan. 6) for a 7 p.m. CST contest against Northwestern before heading home to face Illinois at 2 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 8) at Cliff Keen Arena. Before the Sunday's dual, Michigan will host a free wrestling clinic from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cliff Keen Arena. Fans can purchase tickets for the meet in advance via the U-M Ticket Office.

Team Standings

 1. MICHIGAN             141
 2. Pittsburgh           126
 3. Kent State           110.5
 4. Bloomsburg            91.5
 5. Columbia              87
 6. Drexel                72.5
 7. Lock Haven            51
 8. Franklin & Marshall   27.5
 9. VMI                   27
10. Old Dominion          26.5
11. Sacred Heart           2

Michigan Results
Numbers listed are tournament seedings

125 - #3 Grant Pizzo
First Round - dec. by Chace Small (Pittsburgh), 8-2
Consolations - dec. by Robert Dyar (Columbia), 6-3
Eliminated with a 0-2 record

133 - #1 Zac Stevens
First Round - pinned Robert Ruiz (Franklin & Marshall), 2:49
Quarterfinals - major dec. Troy Opfer (Kent State), 12-3
Semifinals - dec. #4 Nick Wilcox (Bloomsburg), 7-4
Final - dec. #3 Shelton Mack (Pittsburgh), 2-0
Finished as the 133-pound champion with a 4-0 record

141 - #1 Kellen Russell
First Round - major dec. Richard Durso (Franklin & Marshall), 12-3
Quarterfinals - tech. fall Zeb Stewart (VMI), 19-4
Semifinals - major dec. #4 Frank Cimato (Drexel), 20-6
Final - major dec. #2 Tyler Small (Kent State), 8-0
Finished as the 141-pound champion with a 4-0 record

149 - #5 Mike Hillock
First Round - dec. Andrew Murano (Franklin & Marshall), 10-5
Quarterfinals - dec. #4 Bryce Busler (Bloomsburg), 4-2
Semifinals - major dec. by #1 Ian Miller (Kent State), 13-4
Defaulted to fifth place with a 2-1 record

157 - #4 Brandon Zeerip
First Round - pinned Andy Candiello (Kent State), 5:20
Quarterfinals - dec. #5 Austin Sommer (Drexel), 9-5
Semifinals - pinned by #1 Frank Hickman (Bloomsburg), 7:41
Consolations - dec. #6 Jake Salazar (Michigan), 3-2
Third Place - dec. #2 Mallie Shuster (Kent State), 8-4
Finished in third place with a 4-1 record

157 - #6 Jake Salazar
First Round - dec. Troy Reaghard (Pittsbugh), 3-2
Quarterfinals - dec. by #3 Jake O'Hara (Columbia), 8-3
Consolation - dec. Andy Candiello (Kent State), 10-3
Consolations - dec. by #4 Brandon Zeerip (Michigan), 3-2
Fifth Place - dec. by #5 Austin Sommer (Drexel), 6-4
Finished in sixth place with a 2-3 record

165 - #2 Dan Yates
First Round - major dec. Anson Worrell (Drexel), 14-1
Quarterfinals - major dec. Chris Smith (Bloomsburg), 13-2
Semifinals - dec. #6 Eren Civan (Columbia), 6-2
Final - dec. #1 Joe Booth (Drexel), 2-0
Finished as the 165-pound champion with a 4-0 record

165 - Dave Johnson
First Round - major dec. Kevin Hartnett (Bloomsburg), 17-6
Quarterfinals - dec. by #1 Joe Booth (Drexel), 4-1
Consolations - dec. #6 Seth Creasy (Lock Haven), 5-4
Consolations - dec. #5 Carry Joseph (VMI), 8-2
Consolations - dec. by #6 Eren Civan (Columbia), 7-4
Fifth Place - dec. Brett Miller (Old Dominion), 7-2
Finished in fifth place with a 4-2 record

174 - #1 Justin Zeerip
First Round - Bye
Quarterfinals - pinned Adam Fondale (Columbia), 3:22
Semifinals - pinned #5 Matt Fullowan (Franklin & Marshall), 2:32
Final - dec. #2 Ethan Headlee (Pittsburgh), 4-0
Finished as the 174-pound champion with a 3-0 record

174 - Collin Zeerip
First Round - dec. Alex Rinaldi (Drexel), 4-2
Quarterfinals - pinned by #2 Ethan Headlee (Pittsburgh), 2:10
Consolations - dec. Jonathon Rizzitello (Sacred Heart), 3-2
Consolations - dec. by #6 Stephen West (Columbia), 3-1
Eliminated with a 2-2 record

184 - #2 Hunter Collins
First Round - dec. John Dommert (VMI), 10-3
Quarterfinals - dec. Zach Heffner (Lock Haven), 7-1
Semifinals - pinned by Brandonn Johnson (Kent State), 3:42
Consolations - major dec. by #3 Andy Vaughn (Pittsburgh), 11-3
Fifth Place - won by medical forfeit over #5 Conor Black (VMI)
Finished in fifth place with a 3-2 record

184 - Chris Heald
First Round - dec. by #4 Nick Mills (Columbia), 4-2
Consolations - dec. by #5 Conor Black (VMI), 3-1
Eliminated with a 0-2 record

197 - #2 Max Huntley
First Round - pinned Renaldo Cuko (Sacred Heart), 1:30
Quarterfinals - pinned #7 Colin Ely (Franklin & Marshall), 4:56
Semifinals - dec. #3 Richard Perry (Bloomsburg), 3-2
Final - dec. by #1 Matt Wilps (Pittsburgh), 3-1
Finished in second place with a 3-1 record

Hwt - #2 Ben Apland
First Round - Bye
Quarterfinals - major dec. #7 Matt Tourdot (Old Dominion), 10-2
Semifinals - pinned #3 Kyle Frey (Drexel), 6:22
Final - dec. #1 Brendan Barlow (Kent State), 2-0
Finished as the heavyweight champion with a 3-0 record

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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