Week #7: U-M Set to Take On No. 17 Northwestern, No. 7 Illinois

Jan. 4, 2012

Wolverine Wrestling Wrap

Friday, Jan. 6 -- at No. 17 Northwestern (Evanston, Ill.), 7 p.m. CST
Live Scoring | Live Video (fee) | Northwestern Website
Sunday, Jan. 8 -- vs. No. 7 Illinois (Cliff Keen Arena), 2 p.m.
Live Scoring | Live Video (fee) | Tickets | Promotions: Koozie Giveaway, Pre-Meet Clinic

The No. 8-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team (2-1, 1-0 Big Ten) will return to Big Ten Conference competition this weekend with duals against No. 17 Northwestern and No. 7 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.

Prior to Sunday's dual meet, the Wolverines will host a free clinic from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cliff Keen Arena. The clinic, the second of the 2011-12 season, is open to all ages and skill levels and will feature technique instruction from former Wolverine standouts Andy Hrovat and Tyrel Todd as well as members of the Wolverine team. No registration is necessary, and video cameras will be permitted. All clinic participants will receive free admission to the dual and a food voucher. [ Clinic Information ]

Michigan's Projected Starting Lineup

Wgt. Name Year/Elig. Hometown (High School)
125 Grant Pizzo Jr./So. Brighton, Mich. (Brighton)
133 Zac Stevens Sr./Sr. Monroe, Mich. (Monroe)
141 Kellen Russell 5th/Sr. High Bridge, N.J. (Blair Academy)
149 Eric Grajales Jr./So. Brandon, Fla. (Brandon)
157 Brandon Zeerip Jr./So. Fremont, Mich. (Hesperia)
165 Dan Yates Jr./So. Hesperia, Mich. (Hesperia)
174 Justin Zeerip Sr./Jr. Fremont, Mich. (Hesperia)
184 Hunter Collins Sr./Jr. Gilroy, Calif. (Gilroy)
197 Max Huntley So./Fr. Emerald Isle, N.C. (Blair Academy)
Hwt Ben Apland Sr./Jr. Woodridge, Ill. (Downers Grove South)

Complete Statistics: Through Dec. 29

LAST TIME OUT: at Mat Town Invitational
The Wolverines crowned five individual champions en route to the team title at the Mat Town Invitational last Thursday (Dec. 29). Michigan claimed five of its six championship matches as senior Zac Stevens (133 pounds), fifth-year senior Kellen Russell (141), junior/sophomore Dan Yates (165), fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip (174) and senior/junior Ben Apland (Hwt) are earned shutout victories to complete their perfect tournament showings. Michigan boasted 11 total placewinners and accumulated 141 points, finishing 15 points ahead of runner-up Pittsburgh. [ Full Recap ]

Holiday Bonus -- The Wolverines claimed 18 bonus wins at the Mat Town Invitational (Dec. 29), earning seven pins, one technical fall, eight major decisions and two medical forfeits. Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell claimed bonus points in each of his four wins. 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.

Big Ben -- Senior/junior Ben Apland posted a perfect 3-0 record en route to the heavyweight crown at the Mat Town Invitational (Dec. 29), avenging an earlier season loss to Kent State's 15th-ranked Brendan Barlow with a 2-0 decision in the championship match. Apland also picked up bonus points on a major decision in the quarterfinals and a semifinal pin over Drexel's Kyle Frey. The tournament win was the first for Apland in his collegiate career; he previously took runner-up honors five times, most notably at the 2010 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and 2010 Southern Scuffle.

Ironman -- Senior Zac Stevens has remained a consistent fixture in the Wolverine lineup over the last four seasons, appearing in every tournament and starting every dual meet -- a stretch of 57 consecutive duals -- at 133 pounds since his arrival on campus.

What Happens in Vegas -- Junior/sophomore Eric Grajales claimed his first collegiate tournament title, winning the 149-pound crown at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, held Dec. 2-3, with a 4-0 record, including three bonus wins. He earned a 9-1 major decision over Air Force's fifth-ranked Cole Von Ohlen in the championship match, scoring three takedowns and a reversal while accumulating 4:42 in riding-time advantage. Grajales is 9-2 on the season.

No Longer Streaking -- Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell saw his 46-match win streak come to an end in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational quarterfinal round, where he fell to Ohio State's Hunter Stieber, 6-5. The streak stands as the second longest in Michigan program history, trailing only John Fisher (1985-86, '88-89), who recorded 47 straight wins between his junior and senior seasons. Russell's win streak covered three different seasons, extending back to the 2009 NCAA seventh-place match. He posted an undefeated 38-0 season last year. Russell previously compiled win streaks of 18 matches as a freshman and 23 matches as a sophomore and has lost back-to-back matches on just two occasions his collegiate career -- at the 2008 National Duals and the 2008 NCAA Championships.

Dual Dominance -- Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell has not lost a dual match three seasons, winning 33 consecutive dual matches. The Wolverine captain started 1-1 in 2008-09 dual meets before claiming 16 straight dual appearances to close out the season. After sitting out the 2009-10 with injury, he went undefeated last year, posting a 16-0 record in dual meets. Russell boasts an impressive 53-6 dual record over his collegiate career.

Reversal of Fortune -- Fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip (Fremont, Mich./Hesperia HS) is 14-1 on the season, and among his victories are three decisions over opponents who previously beat him a year ago. He has claimed a pair of wins over Pittsburgh's Ethan Headlee, most recently defeating the Panther wrestler 4-0 in the Mat Town Invitational final. Zeerip also earned a decisive 9-4 victory over Michigan State's Curran Jacobs in the MSU Open semifinal round.

Boyle to Redshirt -- Junior Sean Boyle (Lowell, Mass./Blair Academy), the Wolverines' two-year starting 125-pounder, had surgery in December to mend a nagging pre-season injury and will now redshirt the 2011-12 season. Boyle, who went 28-15 last season, took fourth place at the 2011 Big Ten Championships and advanced to the NCAA Championships Round of 12, finishing just one match shy of All-America honors.

Calling the Shots -- Head coach Joe McFarland is in his 13th 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 149-70-5 record at the helm and has led 18 different student-athletes to four NCAA individual titles, 40 All-America citations and 18 Big Ten individual crowns.

Welcome Aboard -- Michigan added three new coaches to its staff this offseason -- assistants Sean Bormet and Donny Pritzlaff and volunteer coach Kyle Massey. Bormet rejoined the Wolverine program after molding the Overtime School of Wrestling into the nation's premiere wrestling club over the last 10 years. Bormet, a two-time All-American and Big Ten champion as a Wolverine wrestler (1991-94), previously spent one season as a Wolverine assistant coach (1999-2000). Pritzlaff served five seasons as an assistant coach at Wisconsin (2007-11) -- the last two as associate head coach -- where he guided the Badgers to three straight top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships, including a fourth-place finish in 2010. Massey spent the two seasons on the coaching staff at Wisconsin, serving one year as volunteer assistant coach (2009-10) and another as the Badgers' volunteer strength coach (2010-11).

Every week, members of the Michigan coaching staff will offer insider access to his program in the rapid-fire Wolverine Wrestling Wrap audio podcast. The Wolverine coaches will touch on topics ranging from his wrestlers, Michigan's opponents, strategy and the other events of the season in each weekly feature.

Facebook: Connect with the program, alumni and fans by clicking the "Like" button at facebook.com/michiganwrestling. Facebook is a social network service and website with more than 500 million active users.

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Michigan held onto the No. 8 position in the latest NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, released Tuesday (Jan. 3). [ Full Rankings ]

The Wolverines also boast seven individuals ranked among the top 20 wrestlers in their respective weight classes in the InterMat, Amateur Wrestling News, WIN Magazine or D1 College Wrestling polls:

133 Zac Stevens 17 13 15 17
141 Kellen Russell 2 1 1 2
149 Eric Grajales 4 3 4 4
165 Dan Yates 18 14 20 13
174 Justin Zeerip 6 7 10 5
197 Max Huntley 18 NR NR 21
Hwt Ben Apland 15 12 10 12

Friday, Jan. 13 -- vs. Indiana (Cliff Keen Arena), 7 p.m.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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