Weekly Release #12: Wolverines Host Big Ten Championships

March 2, 2010

Sat-Sun., March 6-7 -- host Big Ten Championships (Crisler Arena), 11 a.m./Noon
Tournament Page

The University of Michigan wrestling team will serve as host school for the 2010 Big Ten Championships on Saturday and Sunday (March 6-7) at Crisler Arena. The Big Ten Championships will take place in three sessions over the course of two days. Wrestling will begin on Saturday (March 6) with the first session slated to start at 11 a.m. with the first and quarterfinal rounds of all weights. Consolation action and semifinal matches will take place Saturday evening at 6 p.m. The Sunday (March 7) session will feature consolation finals at noon and championship finals approximately slated for 2:05 p.m. The championship round will be aired live on the Big Ten Network.

Michigan's Projected Starting Lineup

Wgt. Name Year/Elig. Hometown (High School)
125 Sean Boyle Fr./Fr. Lowell, Mass. (Blair Academy)
133 Zac Stevens So./So. Monroe, Mich. (Monroe)
141 Mark Weber So./So. Goodrich, Mich. (Goodrich)
149 Mark Boyer So./Fr. Battle Creek, Mich. (Pennfield)
157 Dave Johnson Jr./So. Jenison, Mich. (Jenison)
165 Aaron Hynes Sr./Jr. Mt. Morris, Mich. (Flint Kearsley)
174 Justin Zeerip Jr./So. Fremont, Mich. (Hesperia)
184 Hunter Collins So./Fr. Gilroy, Calif. (Gilroy)
197 Anthony Biondo Sr./Jr. Clinton Twp., Mich. (Chippewa Valley)
Hwt Ben Apland So./Fr. Woodridge, Ill. (Downers Grove South)

Complete Statistics: Through Feb. 21

Looking For Another Trophy -- Michigan is in search of its 12th Big Ten Championships title in school history, and first since 1973, when the Wolverines sent two individuals to the winner's podium to earn 76 points, beating runner-up Iowa by seven points. U-M owns the fourth-most conference team titles in Big Ten history with 11.

No "I" in Team -- With 122 conference individual titles in program history (coming from 82 different wrestlers), the Wolverines boast the second most of any Big Ten school behind Iowa with 184. U-M has claimed at least one champion in eight of the last nine seasons and have boasted three individual champions in each of the last two seasons -- the most of any Big Ten school.

A Young Crowd -- Six Wolverines -- freshman Sean Boyle (125), sophomore Mark Weber (141), sophomore/freshman Mark Boyer (149), junior/sophomore Dave Johnson (157), sophomore/freshman Hunter Collins (184) and sophomore/freshman Ben Apland (Hwt) -- will be making their Big Ten Championships debut this weekend. The other four members of U-M lineup have previously appeared in at least one conference tournament, including senior/junior captain Anthony Biondo (197), who will be making his third trip to the event.

The Host with the Most -- The University of Michigan will serve as the host of the Big Ten Championships for the 10th time in program history and first time since 1999. Michigan has placed among the top five in each previous instance hosting the conference meet, including first-place performances in 1960 and 1965 and runner-up finishes in 1937, 1952 and 1988. In Michigan's most recent host turn, in 1999, the Wolverines claimed fifth place with 76.5 points and no individual champions.

Need for (Pre) Seed -- The preliminary seeds for the 2010 Big Ten Wrestling Championships were announced on Monday (March 2) by conference officials. The pre-seeds are determined by a vote of the head wrestling coaches after consideration of regular-season results. Michigan has six seeded wrestlers -- No. 6 Zac Stevens (133 pounds), No. 6 Dave Johnson (157), No. 8 Justin Zeerip (174), No. 7 Hunter Collins (184), No. 3 Anthony Biondo (197) and No. 7 Ben Apland (Hwt). The championships bracket will be finalized on Friday (March 7) following the coaches meeting.

Big Players -- The Big Ten Conference has long been established as the toughest competition throughout the country. This year proves no different as eight Big Ten programs earned top-20 rankings in the final regular-season poll of the 2009-10 season. Iowa claimed the top spot on the national list that also included No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Minnesota, No. 10 Penn State, No. 13 Indiana, No. 14 Wisconsin, No. 21 Purdue and No. 23 Illinois.

The Youth of Today -- With a lineup predominantly made up of underclassmen and no seniors, the Wolverines are fielding one of the nation's youngest squads in 2009-10. Michigan's lineup consists of four freshmen, four sophomores and two juniors; it will return its entire rotation next season. U-M's is particularly youthful at the lowerweights, where true freshman Sean Boyle (125) and true sophomores Zac Stevens (133) and Mark Weber (141) have yet to use a redshirt year.

A Career Year -- Senior/junior captain Anthony Biondo capped the Big Ten dual season with a decisive 8-1 win over Northwestern's John Schoen. The Wolverine captain won six of his last eight matches, including a win over 15th-ranked Matt Powless, 6-0. Biondo boasts a 30-4 record on the season, already claiming seven more wins than his previous career high; he tallied a 23-13 record at 197 pounds in his first varsity season. In two years at 197 pounds, Biondo owns a solid 54-17 record while registering an 18-15 mark at 184 pounds last season. The Wolverine captain held onto the No. 8 position in the latest edition of the InterMat national rankings.

This Just-in -- Despite a setback in the Wolverines' dual finale at Northwestern, junior/sophomore Justin Zeerip has looked solid of late, earning wins in three of his last four Big Ten competitions. He secured a dominant 10-0 major decision on Feb. 12 against Indiana's Nick Avery and wrapped the weekend with a 5-3 decision over Wisconsin's Brendan Ard. Zeerip is 25-16 this season and has already surpassed his career high in the win category. Twelve of his 16 losses this season have come against nationally ranked competition. He owns a pair of wins over ranked competition this season, using a ride out in the third tiebreaker to beat Bucknell's 17th-ranked Shane Riccio, 2-1, in a 13-minute marathon at the Virginia Duals (Jan. 8-9) and similarly defeating Ohio State's 20th-ranked Dave Rella, 2-1, in the first tiebreaker in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Dec. 4-5) consolation semifinal round.

Super Dave -- Junior/sophomore Dave Johnson claimed a high-scoring 11-6 win over Northwestern's Kevin Bialka in the Wolverines' dual finale (Feb. 21) to claim his fourth win in Big Ten competition. Johnson used tilts to rack up five back points in the bout. He also owns a pair of nail-biter wins in Big Ten action. He overcame a three-point deficit -- with riding time -- against Michigan State's Anthony Jones (Jan. 29), using a pair of two-point tilts in the third period to win, 7-6. The previous weekend, he picked up a big 6-4 overtime win over Minnesota's Joe Grygelko (Jan. 23), using an extended scramble -- and a little luck -- to pick up the winning takedown with seven seconds left on the score clock. Johnson is 18-17 on the season.

Zac Attack -- Sophomore captain Zac Stevens has claimed victories in three of his last five bouts -- his first against Big Ten competition this season -- defeating Ohio State's Ian Paddock, 6-5, Penn State's Bryan Pearsall, 13-9, and Indiana's Matt Ortega, 6-3. Stevens is 21-14 this season and has more than doubled his previous career win total.

Calling the Shots -- Head coach Joe McFarland is in his 11th 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 136-64-5 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.

Every Thursday, head coach Joe McFarland will offer insider access to his program in the rapid-fire Thursday Throwdown audio podcast. McFarland will touch on topics ranging from his wrestlers, Michigan's opponents, strategy and the other events of the season in each weekly feature. [ Check out the latest episode on or subscribe to Michigan Athletics on iTunes ]

Michigan wrestling is now on Twitter. Sign up and follow the Wolverines (Michigan_wrestl) with up-to-the-minute news and information throughout the season and beyond. Twitter is a free casual, online social network that is designed to connect businesses, organizations and individuals. Each Twitter post (or "tweet") can be received on a user's cell phone via text or on the web.

Beginning with the 2009-10 academic year, the University of Michigan athletics department will no longer print media guides. U-M fans and media can still obtain all the information they're used to, only now it's available online. If you're looking for in-depth historical information, statistics, records, archives, etc., the Record Book is what you'll need. For more of a general overview of a team, the staff and student-athletes, check out the Yearbook. [ Check them both out in our new publications section ]

The Wolverines remain just outside of the top 25 in the latest national poll, released Tuesday (Jan. 5) by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Senior/junior Anthony Biondo lists as Michigan's lone ranked individual wrestler holding onto the No. 8 position in the latest InterMat rankings at 197 pounds.

Thu-Sat., March 18-20 -- at NCAA Championships (Omaha, Neb.)

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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