Week #13: at NCAA Championships

March 15, 2011

Thu-Sat., March 17-19 -- at NCAA Championships (Philadelphia, Pa.)
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Television Information
Session I: ESPN3.com
Session II: ESPN3.com
Quarterfinals: ESPNU, ESPN3.com
Semifinals: ESPNU
Championship Medal Round: ESPNU
Finals: ESPN, ESPN3.com

The No. 11-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team will send eight individual wrestlers to Philadelphia, Pa., to compete in the 2011 NCAA Championships, scheduled for Thursday through Saturday (March 17-19) at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wolverines head into the NCAA tournament after placing fifth at the Big Ten Conference Championships (87.5 points) on March 5-6.

The NCAA Championships will take place in six sessions over three days, beginning at 11 a.m. on Thursday (March 17) 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 18), wrestling will begin at 10:30 a.m. with the quarterfinal round and continued wrestlebacks. The fourth session is slated for 7 p.m. and will feature semifinals and wrestlebacks. On Saturday (March 19), the fifth session is scheduled for 11 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 7:30 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 20 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 three qualifiers to the NCAA event.

Michigan's NCAA Championships 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)
165 Dan Yates So./Fr. Hesperia, Mich. (Hesperia)
174 Justin Zeerip Sr./Jr. Fremont, Mich. (Hesperia)
197 Anthony Biondo 5th/Sr. Clinton Twp., Mich. (Chippewa Valley)
Hwt Ben Apland Jr./So. Woodridge, Ill. (Downers Grove South)

Complete Statistics: Through March 6

Blue Crew -- With eight NCAA qualifiers, the Wolverines will send their largest contingent to the national championships in five years -- since sending nine in 2006. Sophomore Sean Boyle (125 pounds), junior Zac Stevens (133), senior/junior Kellen Russell (141), sophomore/freshman Eric Grajales (149), sophomore/freshman Dan Yates (165), senior/junior Justin Zeerip (174), fifth-year senior Anthony Biondo (197) and junior/sophomore Ben Apland (Hwt) will serve as Michigan's contingent at the 2011 NCAA event. Half of the Wolverines' qualifying contingent will make their first NCAA appearance, while Russell, Biondo and Zeerip will all make their third career NCAA trip.

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. Last season marked the first time in 17 years that Michigan produced no All-Americans. The Wolverines also rank ninth among the national elite with 20 NCAA individual titles in program history.

The Champion -- Senior/junior Kellen Russell captured the third Big Ten 141-pound title of his career with an 8-4 decision over Minnesota's Mike Thorn in the championship bout. The Wolverine captain used a first-period takedown and a five-point reversal early in the third to control the match throughout. Russell previously claimed back-to-back crowns in 2008 and 2009, while Thorn took the 141-pound title during Russell's redshirt year last season. He owns a perfect 11-0 record in three career appearances at the Big Ten Tournament.

Russell is the 47th wrestler to capture three Big Ten individual titles in conference history and the 10th Michigan wrestler to achieve the feat. After becoming the fifth Wolverine to win a Big Ten individual title as a freshman and the second, joining Jarrett Hubbard (1971-74), to win in each of his first two seasons, Russell is the first ever wrestler in U-M program history to win Big Ten titles in his first three seasons. Hubbard won three Big Ten 150-pound titles in his career -- as a freshman and sophomore (1971-72) and again as a senior (1974) -- as well the NCAA titles in 1973 and 1974. No Wolverine has ever captured four Big Ten titles.

Picture Perfect -- With his perfect 33-0 record, senior/junior Kellen Russell enters the NCAA Championships as one of only 13 undefeated wrestlers remaining in the country. He has achieved the feat against a particularly tough field at 141 pounds. He owns a total of 10 wins over the rest of the nation's top-six-ranked wrestlers, including three wins apiece against Minnesota's No. 2 Mike Thorn and Penn State's No. 6 Andrew Alton and two wins against Illinois' No. 3 Jimmy Kennedy. He has dealt both Kennedy and Cal Poly's No. 4 Boris Novachkov their only losses on the season.

We're Going Streaking -- Senior/junior Kellen Russell 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. Dating back to the seventh-place match at the 2009 NCAA Championships, Russell owns a 34-match winning streak, tying the third longest win streak in Michigan program history. He also posted a 23-match win streak during his sophomore season. In fact, Russell has lost back-to-back matches on just two occasions his collegiate career -- at the 2008 National Duals and the 2008 NCAA Championships.

Turning it On -- Sophomore/freshman Eric Grajales has been on fire of late, winning 12 of his 18 matches since the New Year, including six wins with bonus points. The Wolverine rookie knocked off the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds -- Northwestern's Andrew Nadhir and Indiana's Kurt Kinser -- en route to the Big Ten 149-pound final two weeks ago. Grajales was slated to wrestle at 133 pounds this season before bumping up to 149 just three days prior to the dual opener against Pittsburgh. He owns five wins over ranked opponents this season.

Reaching the Century Mark -- Fifth-year senior captain Anthony Biondo collected his 100th collegiate win with his 10-5, rally-inducing decision against Ohio State's Peter Capone on Jan. 28. With a career mark of 103-45, Biondo becomes the 33rd member of the Wolverines' prestigious 100-Win Club and the first since former Wolverines Steve Luke and Tyrel Todd surpassed the 100-win milestone during the 2008-09 season. Senior/junior captain Kellen Russell also stands within striking distance of the win milestone, carrying a 96-11 career record into weekend action.

Tough Score -- Senior/junior Kellen Russell has only allowed six takedowns this season -- two of which came in the third period against Iowa's Montell Marion. He has also allowed takedowns against Lehigh's Stephen Dutton, Hofstra's Vicente Varela, Penn State's Andrew Alton and, most recently, against Illinois' Jimmy Kennedy in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Russell has only trailed late in a match twice this season -- against Marion and in his first of three meetings against Alton. He converted on takedowns in the final 20 seconds to win both. For his part, Russell owns 64 takedowns on the season.

Give Me Just a Little More Time -- Senior/junior Kellen Russell's 6-4 overtime win over Illinois' No. 4 Jimmy Kennedy in the Big Ten Championships semifinals was his fourth overtime appearance in six matches. He also claimed three straight overtime wins to end the Big Ten dual season, defeating Penn State's No. 7 Andrew Alton, 3-1 in the tiebreaker, before beating Minnesota's No. 2 Mike Thorn, 3-1, and Iowa's No. 3 Montell Marion, 9-5, in sudden victory. He owns a career 8-0 record in overtime matches.

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 finalist at 126 pounds. Assistant coach Kirk Trost captured the 1986 NCAA heavyweight title for Michigan and was a two-time All-American, while Mike Kulczycki earned 2001 All-America honors at 149 pounds. First-year volunteer coach Brian Dolph claimed the 1990 NCAA 150-pound crown and was a three-time All-American during his career at Indiana. McFarland served as his head coach during his final two seasons.

Boy-O-Boyle -- With 25 total wins on the season, sophomore Sean Boyle has already surpassed his win total from a year ago (20). He went 8-5 in dual-meet competition, including a 5-3 mark in Big Ten duals. Boyle also owns career highs in dual wins (8), pins (2) and major decisions (4).

A Reversal of Fortune -- After returning from a two-week absence from injury, senior/junior captain Justin Zeerip ended the Big Ten dual season on a high note, earning back-to-back wins over Big Ten wrestlers to whom he had previously lost. Zeerip kicked off the Wolverines' road victory against Wisconsin with an upset win against 12th-ranked Ben Jordan, using 1:25 in riding-time advantage to secure a 2-1 decision and avenge a 4-1 loss in the wrestleback round at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. The following week, he used an early takedown to edge Minnesota's No. 12 Scott Glasser, 4-1. It was Zeerip's first win over Glasser in four career meetings.

Zeerip is one of six different Michigan wrestlers to flip a loss to a familiar opponent this season. Sophomore Sean Boyle, sophomore/freshman Eric Grajales, sophomore/freshman Dan Yates and fifth-year senior Anthony Biondo all achieved the feat in Michigan's win over Lehigh at the Virginia Duals, while sophomore/freshman Brandon Zeerip avenged an early season loss to Central Michigan's Eric Cubberly with a dominant 19-7 major decision in the road dual. Grajales also flipped his loss against Indiana's Kurt Kinser with his 7-4 decision at the Big Ten Championships.

Freshman Phenoms -- Michigan's starting lineup this season featured three freshmen at consecutive weights -- Eric Grajales (149), Brandon Zeerip (157) and Dan Yates (165) -- and the trio played a big role in the Wolverines' dual success, combining for a 15-8 record in Big Ten duals with two pins, a technical fall and two major decisions.

Dual Domination -- With fall against Michigan State's Levi Stance in the Wolverines' dual-meet finale, senior/junior Kellen Russell extended his dual winning streak to 32 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 52-6 dual record over his collegiate career.

A Strong Start -- Michigan won seven of 10 individual matches in each of its first five Big Ten duals of the season en route to a 5-0 start -- the Wolverines' best start in conference action since going 8-0 en route to the 2005-06 Big Ten dual-meet title. Three of U-M's Big Ten wins came against ranked competition -- No. 6 Wisconsin (26-9, Feb. 4), No. 19 Northwestern (22-12, Jan. 21) and No. 21 Purdue (28-13, Jan. 14).

Marked Improvement -- The Wolverines' 21-18 semifinal victory over No. 9-ranked Lehigh provided the highlight of its 3-1 record and runner-up effort at the Virginia Duals (Jan. 7-8). Michigan claimed six individual wins against the Mountain Hawks, taking five of the first six matches, and five Wolverine wrestlers avenged losses from U-M's 25-6 road loss against Lehigh earlier this season (Nov. 19). Sophomore Sean Boyle (125), sophomore/freshman Eric Grajales (149), fifth-year senior Aaron Hynes (157), sophomore/freshman Dan Yates (165) and fifth-year senior Anthony Biondo (197) all avenged decision losses in the previous meeting, while senior/junior Kellen Russell (141) claimed his second win over the Mountain zHawks this season.

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 147-69-5 record at the helm and has led 18 different student-athletes to three NCAA individual titles, 39 All-America citations and 18 Big Ten individual crowns.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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