Week #14: Wolverines to Send Seven to NCAAs This Week
MGOBLUE Justin Zeerip
MGOBLUE
Justin Zeerip
MGOBLUE

March 12, 2012

Pre-NCAA Interviews

THIS WEEK
Thu-Sat., March 15-17 -- at NCAA Championships (St. Louis, Mo.), 11 a.m./10 a.m. CDT
Live Results | ESPN3.com | Twitter | Facebook | Tournament Site | Brackets

Television Information
Thursday
Session I: ESPN3.com
Session II: ESPN3.com
Friday
Quarterfinals: ESPNU, ESPN3.com
Semifinals: ESPNU/ESPN3.com
Saturday
Championship Medal Round: ESPNU, ESPN3.com
Finals: ESPN, ESPN3.com

The University of Michigan wrestling team will send seven individual wrestlers to St. Louis, Mo., to compete in the 2012 NCAA Championships, scheduled for Thursday through Saturday (March 15-17) at the Scottrade Center. The Wolverines head into the NCAA tournament after placing seventh at the Big Ten Conference Championships (66 points) on March 3-4.

The NCAA Championships will take place in six sessions over three days, beginning at 11 a.m. CDT on Thursday (March 15) with pigtail matches and the first round. The second session will resume later that day at 6:30 p.m. and feature continued preliminary matches as well as the wrestleback first round. On Friday (March 16), wrestling will begin at 10 a.m. with the quarterfinal round and continued wrestlebacks. The fourth session is slated for 6 p.m. and will feature semifinals and wrestlebacks. On Saturday (March 17), the fifth session is scheduled for 10 a.m. and will wrap up the consolation bracket, featuring seventh-place, fifth-place and third-place matches at all weights. The finals are slated for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

The Wolverines have finished in the runner-up position at the NCAA Championships on five occasions (1928, '29, '67, '74, '05) and have posted 42 top-10 finishes in their 68 appearances at the tournament, including eight in a row under head coach Joe McFarland.

Individually, U-M has produced 21 NCAA champions and 172 All-Americans. With consistently strong performances at the NCAA tournament, Michigan has boasted at least one All-American in 19 of the last 20 seasons. Last season, the Wolverines sent eight qualifiers and crowned Kellen Russell as the 141-pound champion.

ESPN3.com will stream the championships.

Michigan's NCAA Championships Lineup

Wgt. Name Year/Elig. Hometown (High School)
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)
165 Dan Yates Jr./So. Hesperia, Mich. (Hesperia)
174 Justin Zeerip 5th/Sr. Fremont, Mich. (Hesperia)
197 Max Huntley So./Fr. Emerald Isle, N.C. (Blair Academy)
Hwt Ben Apland Sr./Jr. Woodridge, Ill. (Downers Grove South)

MICHIGAN BY THE NUMBERS:
Complete Statistics: Through March 4

BIG TEN TOURNAMENT NOTES

Blue Crew -- Senior Zac Stevens (133 pounds), fifth-year senior Kellen Russell (141), junior/sophomore Eric Grajales (149), junior/sophomore Dan Yates (165), fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip (174), sophomore/freshman Max Huntley (197) and senior/junior Ben Apland (Hwt) will serve as Michigan's contingent at the 2012 NCAA event. It will be the first ever NCAA appearance for Huntley, while the Wolverines' six other representatives earned return trips.

No "I" in Team -- With 172 NCAA All-America certificates in program history, the Wolverines rank fifth among the leading programs in the nation, trailing only the two powers from Iowa and the two powers from Oklahoma. Michigan has produced at least one All-American in 18 of the last 19 seasons. The Wolverines also rank eighth among the national elite with 21 NCAA individual titles in program history.

Coach Speak -- All four members of the Michigan coaching staff garnered NCAA All-America honors during their respective collegiate career. Head coach Joe McFarland was a four-time All-American and two-time NCAA finalist at 126 pounds, and assistant coach Sean Bormet was a two-time NCAA All-American at 158 pounds, reaching the finals as a senior (1994). Assistant coach Donny Pritzlaff captured two NCAA 165-pound titles and was a four-time All-American at Wisconsin, while volunteer coach Kyle Massey was an All-American heavyweight at Wisconsin.

The Champion -- Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell captured the fourth Big Ten 141-pound title of his career with a 7-2 decision over Iowa's Montell Marion in the championship bout. The Wolverine captain finished on three takedowns -- one in each period -- en route to his most lopsided victory in three career meetings against Marion.

Russell became just the 11th four-time Big Ten champion in conference history and the first since Iowa's Mark Ironside accomplished the feat from 1995-98. He is the first-ever four-time Big Ten champion in Michigan program history. The Wolverines have had nine three-time champions: Snip Nalen, Mike Rodriguez, Max Pearson, Fritz Kellerman, Bob Fehrs, Jarrett Hubbard, John Fisher, Ryan Churella and Steve Luke. He posted a perfect 14-0 record in three career appearances at the Big Ten Tournament.

Four-time Big Ten Champions
Wrestler, School Years (Wgts)
Verne Gagne, Minnesota 1944 (175), 1947 (HWT), 1948 (191),1949 (HWT)
Arnold Plaza, Purdue 1947, 1949-50 (121), 1948 (114 1/2)
Joe Scarpello, Iowa 1947-48-49-50 (175)
Tom Milkovich, Michigan State 1970-71 (134), 1972-73 (142)
Mike DeAnna, Iowa 1977-78-79-81 (167)
Ed Banach, Iowa 1980-81-82 (177), 1983 (190)
Barry Davis, Iowa 1981-82, (118), 1983-85 (126)
Duane Goldman, Iowa 1983-84 (177), 1985-86 (190)
Jim Heffernan, Iowa 1983-85-86-87 (155)
Mark Ironside, Iowa 1995-96-97-98 (134)

He's Outstanding -- Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell was named the Co-Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships at the conclusion of the Big Ten Championships (March 3-4), becoming the seventh Wolverine wrestler to garner the prestigious honor and first since its inception in 1967. He shared the award with Penn State's Frank Molinaro. Michigan has won just three other conference yearly awards -- former U-M head coach Dale Bahr earned the inaugural Coach of the Year award in 1988, while Joey Gilbert and Ryan Bertin claimed Freshman of the Year honors in 1990 and 2005, respectively.

WOLVERINE BITES

We're Going Streaking (Again) -- Senior/junior Kellen Russell enters the Big Ten Championships with an 21-match win streak after he posted a 3-0 record en route to his fourth Big Ten title. Russell has lost just once over the last two seasons -- a 6-5 decision to Ohio State's Hunter Stieber in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational quarterfinal round, which snapped his 46-match win streak. That streak covered three seasons and 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 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.

In the Bonus -- Both fifth-year senior Kellen Russell and junior/sophomore Eric Grajales have earned bonus points in about half of their matches this season. Russell has tallied bonus points in 16-of-29 matches (.552), boasting career highs with three technical falls and 11 major decisions, while Grajales has earned bonus in 10-of-24 matches (.417), similarly owning career bests in tech falls (3) and major decisions (5).

Climbing the Charts -- Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell enters the NCAA Tournament with a career record of 129-12 and outright possession of the 13th spot among Michigan's all-time wins leaders. Russell needs three 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 .915 ranks second among the Wolverines leaders in the category, trailing only Dave Porter (.944, 1966-68).

Nearing the Century Club -- Fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip sits at 97-66 in his career, closing in on Michigan's prestigious 100-Win Club. With three more wins, he will become the 35th Wolverine wrestle to tally 100 career victories.

Ironman -- Senior Zac Stevens was a consistent fixture in the Wolverine lineup over the last four seasons, appearing in every tournament and starting every dual meet -- a stretch of 66 consecutive duals -- at 133 pounds since his arrival on campus.

Dual Domination -- Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell closed out the dual-meet portion of his collegiate career with a stellar 62-6 dual record and did not lose a dual match in each of his final two seasons, winning 42 consecutive dual matches. Russell shares the fifth spot -- with Josh Churella (2005-08) -- among Michigan's all-time dual wins leaders. Churella boasted an identical 62-6 career dual record.

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 153-75-5 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).

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IN THE POLLS
The Wolverines 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:

Wt. Name IM AWN WIN D1CW
133 Zac Stevens 8 8 9 10
141 Kellen Russell 1 1 1 1
149 Eric Grajales 8 9 9 6
165 Dan Yates 14 13 NR 20
174 Justin Zeerip 12 9 9 5
197 Max Huntley 14 NR 20 18
Hwt Ben Apland 16 14 17 10

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423


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