Dec. 29, 2011
N O T E S
Michigan has placed among the top two in both of its tournament appearances this season. The Wolverines previously took second place at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Dec. 3-4) behind one champion and seven placewinners.
The Wolverines claimed 18 bonus wins in the tournament, earning seven pins, one technical fall, eight major decisions and two medical forfeits.
Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell has earned bonus points in 62.5 percent of his wins this season. He boasts 10 bonus wins: one pin, two tech falls and seven major decisions.
Senior/junior Ben Apland previously lost to Kent State's Brendan Barlow, 3-1 in overtime, in the consolation round at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
Senior Zac Stevens and fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip both defeated Pittsburgh wrestlers in the finals for the second time this season. Stevens defeated Shelton Mack, 10-2, in the dual meet, while Zeerip earned a 4-2 decision over Ethan Headlee.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Joe McFarland
On the Wolverines' overall effort ... "I think overall we wrestled pretty well. We started a little sluggish, but we got better as the day went on and that was good to see. Some wrestlers competed better than others. We had five champs, and I thought all those guys did a great job. We had some other guys that were right there and were very close to getting into the finals themselves. But overall this was a great tournament for our guys coming off the break. Now we're bringing home some things that we'll work on -- as a team as well as some individual things."
On the Mat Town Invitational ... "I liked the fact that it was a one-day event, and I liked the timing of it. It enabled us to come back, get some training in, compete all day and then give us a week to get ready for Northwestern and Illinois. It was a good tournament."
On heavyweight Ben Apland's performance ... "I thought Ben looked sharp. He had a nice win in the finals and competed well throughout the tournament. Obviously that helps his confidence. I thought he did a good job."
On dominant performances from Kellen Russell and Justin Zeerip ... "Both of those guys wrestled hard. They were very aggressive, attacked well and kept piling up the points. I was very pleased with both of them."
U-M Senior Zac Stevens
On his tournament ... "I thought I wrestled pretty aggressively. I was able to get my offense going and wrestled through every position. I faced a couple kids that seemed content with backing away, but I kept going after them. In the finals, he was trying to keep it close, tie me up and slow me down. Last time, I wore him down, but today he didn't really give me that opportunity. I got the win, so I was pleased."
On Michigan's overall performance ... "I thought everybody wrestled hard. I think we lost some matches that we should have won, but you're always going to have that. Everybody put full effort into it. We won the tournament. It was a good refresher coming off the break. It's encouraging that we're doing well as a tournament team. We're putting together good rounds, getting bonus points, and wrestling hard all the way through the lineup."
U-M Senior/Junior Ben Apland
On avenging his earlier loss to Kent State's Brendan Barlow ... "I wrestled a smarter, more controlled match this time. I had a good plan going in. It's always a good feeling to beat someone that you lost to. It's good for your confidence, and it suggests I'm moving in the right direction for the rest of the season."
On returning from the holiday break ... "We had a nice little break after finals, so this was a good tournament to get a few matches in, make sure we're still in shape, and get a chance to compete before we continue our dual-meet season. I think the team wrestled pretty well. That's a good sign for the rest of our season."