Week #6: Third-Seeded Wolverines Head to 31st Annual Virginia Duals

Jan. 4, 2011

Fri-Sat., Jan. 7-8 -- at Virginia Duals (Hampton, Va.)
    Friday -- vs. Liberty, 11 a.m. • Live Results
    Friday -- vs. Buffalo/Virginia, 3 p.m.
    Remaining schedule to be determined
Brackets | Virginia Duals Website

The No. 15-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) returns to dual-meet competition at the 31st annual Virginia Duals on Friday and Saturday (Jan. 7-8) in Hampton, Va. With the third seed in the tournament, U-M will square off against Liberty in the first round at 11 a.m. Friday and will wrestle again at 3 p.m. against either Buffalo or Virginia in the quarterfinals or consolation bracket. All matches will be held at the Hampton Coliseum. Michigan will be one of 16 NCAA Division I teams competing in the tournament. Among this year's field will be four ranked teams, including No. 2 Penn State, No. 9 Lehigh and No. 23 Kent State.

Michigan's Projected Lineup

Wgt. Name Year/Elig. Hometown (High School)
125 Sean Boyle So./So. Lowell, Mass. (Blair Academy)
133 Zac Stevens Jr./Jr. Monroe, Mich. (Monroe)
141 Kellen Russell Sr./Jr. High Bridge, N.J. (Blair Academy)
149 Eric Grajales So./Fr. Brandon, Fla. (Brandon)
157 Aaron Hynes 5th/Sr. Mt. Morris, Mich. (Flint Kearsley)
OR Brandon Zeerip So./Fr. Fremont, Mich. (Hesperia)
165 Dan Yates So./Fr. Hesperia, Mich. (Hesperia)
174 Justin Zeerip Sr./Jr. Fremont, Mich. (Hesperia)
184 Hunter Collins Jr./So. Gilroy, Calif. (Gilroy)
197 Anthony Biondo 5th/Sr. Clinton Twp., Mich. (Chippewa Valley)
Hwt Ben Apland Jr./So. Woodridge, Ill. (Downers Grove South)

Complete Statistics: Through Dec. 30

The Wolverines posted a 2-3 record en route to eighth place at the 2010 Virginia Duals -- their first appearance at the prestigious dual tournament in 10 years -- earning wins over Bucknell (21-15) and Clarion (29-15) while falling to No. 13 Kent State (27-9) and twice to No. 23 Virginia (23-10, 19-13). Anthony Biondo headlined Michigan's individual performers at the dual event, posting a perfect 5-0 record, including a pair of wins over 16th-ranked Brent Jones of Virginia, while Sean Boyle swept his day-two matches en route to a 4-1 weekend record.

Behind champion Kellen Russell and eight total placewinners, the Wolverines claimed fourth place (132 points) at the annual Southern Scuffle (Dec. 29-30), finishing just a half point behind third-place Oregon State. Russell defeated a pair of top-10 opponents en route to the 141-pound title, while for the second straight tournament, junior/sophomore Ben Apland joined him in the championship round with a runner-up effort at heavyweight.

The Leader and Best -- Senior/junior captain Kellen Russell confirmed his No. 1 national ranking with his 6-0 effort at the Southern Scuffle (Dec. 29-30), defeating a pair of top-10 opponents en route to the 141-pound crown -- his second big tournament win in a month's time, adding to the individual crown from the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Dec. 3-4). Russell defeated Minnesota's No. 2-ranked Mike Thorn, 6-2, in the championship bout, using takedowns in the first and third periods and 1:08 in riding-time advantage.

We're Going Streaking -- Senior/junior Kellen Russell remains one of the nation's lone undefeated wrestlers -- with a perfect 16-0 record -- and has done so against a tough field at 141 pounds. Among Russell's wins this season, he was defeated six ranked opponents, including three top-five opponents in Minnesota's No. 2 Mike Thorn, Illinois' No. 3 Jimmy Kennedy and Cal Poly's No. 4 Boris Novachkov. The Wolverine captain is no stranger to starting a season on a tear; he kicked off 2007-08, his true freshman campaign, with an 18-0 record before falling twice at the National Duals. Russell's longest winning streak is 23 straight matches, which he recorded during his sophomore season.

Big Ben -- Junior/sophomore heavyweight Ben Apland claimed second place at the Southern Scuffle (Dec. 29-30) -- his second runner-up tournament showing of December -- after losing a heartbreaker to Penn State's sixth-ranked Cameron Wade, 4-2, on a late turn in the championship match. Apland is now 8-4 on the season. Using the latest InterMat poll, his losses have come against the No. 1, No. 3, No. 7 and No. 11 nationally ranked heavyweights.

Quite a Debut -- Sophomore/freshman Brandon Zeerip made an impact in his varsity debut at the Southern Scuffle (Dec. 29-30), posting a 5-2 record en route to fourth place at 157 pounds. He advanced to the semifinals, earning a 7-3 decision over Cornell's Craig Eifert in the quarterfinals, before falling to eventual champion David Taylor of Penn State and splitting a pair of bouts in the wrestlebacks. Zeerip is 21-7 on the season. He won the freshman/sophomore 157-pound title at the EMU Open (Nov. 6) and placed eighth at the Nittany Lion Open (Dec. 4).

Holiday Bonus -- The Wolverines racked up big points en route to their fourth-place showing at the Southern Scuffle, earning bonus points in half (24/48) of their tournament wins. Michigan tallied 12 falls, eight major decisions, an injury default and three forfeit victories. Sophomore Sean Boyle, junior Zac Stevens, fifth-year senior Anthony Biondo and junior/sophomore Ben Apland set the tone with two pins apiece.

Dual Domination -- Senior/junior Kellen Russell held off a late charge against Lehigh's Stephen Dutton on Nov. 19 to secure a 6-5 decision and extend his dual winning streak to 18 consecutive matches. The Wolverine captain sat out last season with injury but, after starting 1-1 in 2008-09 dual meets, won 16 consecutive dual appearances to close out the season. Russell boasts an impressive 38-6 dual record over his collegiate career.

Calling the Shots -- Head coach Joe McFarland is in his 12th season as head coach of the Michigan wrestling team. Since taking over the reins in 1999, McFarland has helped mold Michigan into a highly touted national contender, guiding the U-M wrestling squad to three Big Ten dual-meet championships (2004, '05, '06) and eight consecutive top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships (2001-08), including an NCAA runner-up performance in 2005. He is the third-winningest coach in program history with a 137-65-5 record at the helm and has led 18 different student-athletes to three NCAA individual titles, 39 All-America citations and 17 Big Ten individual crowns.

The Wolverines held on to the No. 15 position in the latest NWCA/USA Today Division I Team Coaches poll, released Tuesday (Jan. 4). Michigan also boasts seven individuals ranked among the top 25 wrestlers in their respective weight classes in the InterMat, Amateur Wrestling News, WIN Magazine or Division I College Wrestling polls:

125 Sean Boyle NR NR 15 24
133 Zac Stevens 18 15 NR 21
141 Kellen Russell 1 1 1 1
165 Dan Yates NR 14 NR 21
174 Justin Zeerip NR NR NR 21
197 Anthony Biondo 15 14 20 15
Hwt Ben Apland 8 11 7 8

Friday, Jan. 14 -- vs. Purdue (Cliff Keen Arena), 7 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 16 -- at Central Michigan (Mount Pleasant, Mich.), 2 p.m.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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