Week #12: Wolverines to Begin Cliff Keen Duals This Weekend

Feb. 8, 2012

Wolverine Wrestling Wrap - Episode 10

NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals
Saturday, Feb. 11 -- vs. Missouri/Cal Poly - NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals (Piscataway, N.J.), 4 p.m. [ Live Scoring | Live Video | Tournament Page ]

The No. 11-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team (6-5) will make its return to the revamped NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals this Saturday (Feb. 11), traveling to Piscataway, N.J., to compete in one of the tournament's four regional sites. The No. 2-seeded Wolverines received a first-round bye and will face the winner of the Missouri/Cal Poly match in the semifinal round at 4 p.m. All dual meets will be held at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).

Saturday, Feb. 11
Rutgers Athletic Center (Piscataway, N.J.)

Round 1
Match 1 -- #5 Seed Rutgers vs. #4 Seed Kent State, 2 p.m.
Match 2 -- #3 Seed Missouri vs. #6 Seed Cal Poly, 2 p.m.

Round 2
Match 3 -- #1 Seed Minnesota vs. Match 1 Winner, 4 p.m.
Match 4 -- #2 Seed Michigan vs. Match 2 Winner, 4 p.m.

Round 3
Match 5 -- Match 3 Winner vs. Match 4 Winner, 6 p.m.
Match 6 -- Match 1 Loser vs. Match 2 Loser, 6 p.m.

The 2012 NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals will represent the first ever regional team dual meet tournament. Coined "Mat Mayhem," the ultimate goal of the revamped National Duals is to create a premier national dual meet championship that will become a platform for growing spectator and media interest in wrestling both at the institutional and national levels.

The tournament consists of 24 teams broken into four six-team regionals. Each region will wrestle three rounds on two mats at each facility with teams seeded 1-6. The winners from the first-round matches will move into the semifinals against the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. The winners of the semifinal matches will then advance to the final round. The winner of each region will move on to compete on Feb. 19, for the national championship. The host site for this event will be announced soon.

Below is the breakdown of the 24 participating teams by their regional sites:

Piscataway, N.J. -- Rutgers, Minnesota, Kent State, Michigan, Missouri, and Cal Poly.
Ames, Iowa -- Iowa State, Iowa, Oregon State, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Northern Iowa.
Ithaca, N.Y. -- Cornell, Central Michigan, Oklahoma, Purdue, Illinois, and American.
Stillwater, Okla. -- Oklahoma State, Boise State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Chattanooga.

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 5th/Sr. 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 Feb. 5

LAST TIME OUT: at Ohio State, at Penn State
The Wolverines dropped their final two Big Ten duals of the season, falling on the road to No. 6 Ohio State (24-13, Feb. 3) and No. 2 Penn State (34-7, Feb. 5). Michigan claimed four matches in the former and were poised the take its first lead late in the OSU contest; instead the Buckeyes took three of the final four bouts to pull away. Junior/sophomore Eric Grajales and senior/junior Ben Apland claimed wins over ranked opposition at 149 pounds and heavyweight, respectively. The Wolverines claimed a pair of early wins against Penn State and trailed by just three points at intermission, before the Nittany Lions claimed bonus in four of the last five bouts to claim their share of the Big Ten title. [ Recaps: Ohio State | Penn State ]


Dual Dominance -- Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell has not lost a dual match three seasons, winning 41 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 61-6 dual record over his collegiate career. He was the only Wolverine to win both his bouts in U-M's trip to OSU and PSU.

Climbing the Charts -- With his weekend wins, fifth-year senior Kellen Russell improved his career record to 125-12 and claimed a share of the 13th spot among Michigan's all-time wins leaders, where he is tied with current assistant coach Sean Bormet (1991-94) and Scott Rechsteiner (1982-83, '85-86). Russell needs seven more wins to reach the 11th position, currently held by Mark Churella (132, 1976-79) and Andy Hrovat (132, 1999-2002). His current career win percentage of .912 ranks second among the Wolverines leaders in the category, trailing only Dave Porter (.944, 1966-68).

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 65 consecutive duals -- at 133 pounds since his arrival on campus.

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.

Grajales Goes Six Straight -- Junior/sophomore Eric Grajales (Brandon, Fla./Brandon) won five straight decisions before falling in his bout against Penn State. He is 15-4 overall and 7-3 in duals this season.

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 153-74-5 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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Despite its two weekend losses, Michigan moved up a spot, back to the No. 11 position in the latest NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, released Tuesday (Feb. 7). [ 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 16 15 13 16
141 Kellen Russell 1 1 1 1
149 Eric Grajales 6 6 6 3
165 Dan Yates 13 11 NR 23
174 Justin Zeerip 8 6 6 7
197 Max Huntley 15 14 17 16
Hwt Ben Apland 10 11 8 8

Sat-Sun., March 3-4 -- at Big Ten Championships (West Lafayette, Ind.)
Thu-Sat., March 15-17 -- at NCAA Championships (St. Louis, Mo.)

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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