Weekly Release #13: Three Wolverines Head to NCAA Championships

March 17, 2010

Thu-Sat., March 18-20 -- at NCAA Championships (Omaha, Neb.), 11 a.m./9:30 a.m./10 a.m. CDT
Live Results | Championships Central
» Live Video: Session 1 | Session 2

The University of Michigan wrestling team will send three individual wrestlers to Omaha, Neb., to compete in the 2010 NCAA Championships, scheduled for Thursday through Saturday (March 18-20) at the Qwest Center.

The NCAA Championships will take place in six sessions over three days, beginning at 11 a.m. CDT on Thursday (March 18) 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 19), wrestling will begin at 9:30 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 20), 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. Saturday evening.

The ESPN networks will live broadcast four rounds of the 2010 NCAA Championships. The quarterfinals, semifinals and medal matches will be aired on ESPNU, while Saturday's championship finals will be on ESPN, starting at 6:30 EDT. ESPN360.com will simulcast the broadcast.

Michigan's NCAA Championships Lineup

Wgt. Name Year/Elig. Hometown (High School)
133 Zac Stevens So./So. Monroe, Mich. (Monroe)
174 Justin Zeerip Jr./So. Fremont, Mich. (Hesperia)
197 Anthony Biondo Sr./Jr. Clinton Twp., Mich. (Chippewa Valley)

Complete Statistics: Through March 7

Blue Crew -- Sophomore Zac Stevens (133 pounds), junior/sophomore Justin Zeerip (174) and senior/junior Anthony Biondo (197) will serve as Michigan's NCAA contingent at the 2010 NCAA event. Zeerip and Biondo own previous experience at the national event after each wrestled a weight class lower at the 2009 tournament. Stevens, who earned one of seven wild-card selections at 133 pounds, will be making his first NCAA appearance.

Big Ten Recap -- Seven Michigan wrestlers placed among the top seven at their individual weight classes at the Big Ten Championships (March 6-7). Under the previous qualifier system, all seven would have advanced to the NCAA Championships. The Wolverines placed 10th with 57.5 points -- Michigan's lowest finish in program history.

No "I" in Team -- With 171 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. U-M has claimed at least one All-American in each of the last 19 years, including three -- Kellen Russell (141), Steve Luke (174) and Tyrel Todd (197) -- at last season's tournament. The Wolverines also share the eighth spot among the national elite with 20 NCAA individual titles in program history.

Return to the Top -- The Wolverines saw their streak of eight consecutive top-10 NCAA finishes come to an end last season as U-M finished 11th -- just a half point shy of the 10 spot. U-M was one of only four elite programs to achieve a similar feat over the stretch. During his U-M tenure, head coach Joe McFarland has coached 15 different wrestlers to three NCAA titles and 37 All-America plaques.

Need for Seed -- The seeds and brackets for the 2010 NCAA Wrestling Championships were announced on Wednesday (March 10) by NCAA officials. Michigan boasts one seeded wrestler in seventh-seeded Anthony Biondo at 197 pounds. Michigan's remaining two qualifiers are unseeded their individual weight classes.

Zac Attack -- Sophomore captain Zac Stevens continued his winning trend going 2-2 at the Big Ten Championships and claiming seventh place, which was good enough for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. This marks Steven's first qualification to the tournament. Steven's ended the dual season with victories in three of his last five dual meets -- 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 24-16 this season and has more than doubled his previous career win total.

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 dual competitions and qualifying for nationals via a fourth-place finish and 3-2 record at the Big Ten Championships. Zeerip's wins included a fall against Penn State's Justin Ortega and a 2-1 decision over fourth seeded David Rella of Ohio State. He secured a dominant 10-0 major decision (Feb. 12) against Indiana's Nick Avery and wrapped the weekend with a 5-3 decision over Wisconsin's Brendan Ard. Zeerip is 28-19 this season and has already surpassed his career high in the win category. Thirteen of his 19 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 twice defeating Ohio State's 20th-ranked Dave Rella, 2-1, once in the first tiebreaker in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Dec. 4-5) consolation semifinal round and once in the consolations at the Big Ten Tournament.

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 and then going on to place third at the Big Ten Championships and qualifying for nationals. The Wolverine captain has won eight of his last 10 matches, with both losses coming to seventh-ranked Trevor Brandvold of Wisconsin. Biondo boasts a 33-5 record on the season, already claiming 10 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 57-18 record while registering an 18-15 mark at 184 pounds last season.

The Youth of Today -- With a lineup predominantly made up of underclassmen and no seniors, the Wolverines fielded one of the nation's youngest squads in 2009-10. Michigan's lineup consisted 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.

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 final national poll, released Tuesday, Feb. 23, by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Senior/junior Anthony Biondo lists as Michigan's lone ranked individual wrestler, moving up a spot to the No. 7 position in the latest InterMat rankings at 197 pounds.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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