Dec. 6, 2011
The No. 8-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team (1-1, 0-0 Big ten) will kick off the Big Ten Conference portion of its 2011-12 schedule on Sunday (Dec. 11), hosting Wisconsin at 2 p.m. at Cliff Keen Arena.
Prior to Sunday's dual meet, the Wolverines will host a free clinic from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Cliff Keen Arena. The clinic, the first of the 2011-12 season, is open to all ages and skill levels and will feature technique instruction from Olympic hopefuls Josh Churella and Jimmy Kennedy as well as members of the Wolverine team. No registration is necessary, and video cameras will be permitted. All clinic participants will receive free admission to the dual and a food voucher. [ Clinic Information ]
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||Sr./Jr.||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)|
MICHIGAN BY THE NUMBERS:
Complete Statistics: Through Dec. 3
LAST TIME OUT: at Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational
The Wolverines claimed second place (116 points) at the 30th annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational behind seven individual placewinners, including 149-pound champion Eric Grajales. Michigan held the team lead for the majority of the first day after posting a 9-0 record in the first round with eight bonus wins, including six pins but wrapped the day winning three of their seven quarterfinal matches. Justin Zeerip took second at 174 pounds, while Kellen Russell placed third at 141 and Zac Stevens took fourth at 133 to round out U-M's top-four performers. [ Recaps: Day 1 | Day 2 ]
What Happens in Vegas -- Junior/sophomore Eric Grajales claimed his first collegiate tournament title last weekend, winning the 149-pound crown at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Dec. 2-3) with a 4-0 record, including three bonus wins. He earned a 9-1 major decision over Air Force's fifth-ranked Cole Von Ohlen in the championship match, scoring three takedowns and a reversal while accumulating 4:42 in riding-time advantage. Grajales is 9-2 on the season.
No Longer Streaking -- Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell saw his 46-match win streak come to an end in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational quarterfinal round, where he fell to Ohio State's Hunter Stieber, 6-5. The streak 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's win streak covered three different seasons, extending back to the 2009 NCAA seventh-place match. He posted an undefeated 38-0 season last year. 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.
Bouncing Back -- Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell posted a 6-1 record en route to third place at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Dec. 2-3), claiming four straight consolation wins after a quarterfinal loss. Among his second-day victories, Russell used a mere two seconds of riding time to edge Cal Poly's then-No. 2-ranked Boris Novachkov, 2-2 in the third tiebreaker, in the consolation semifinals. In four career appearances at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Russell won twice at 141 pounds and twice took third place. He boasted an impressive 22-2 career record at the annual Vegas event.
Reversal of Fortune -- Fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip (Fremont, Mich./Hesperia HS) is 10-1 on the season, and among his victories are two decisions over opponents who previously beat him a year ago. Zeerip used a pair of reversals to edge Pittsburgh's Ethan Headlee in his most-recent match (Nov. 19), avenging a 3-1 sudden-victory loss to the Panther wrestler in last season's dual opener. In his season debut at the Michigan State Open (Nov. 12), Zeerip earned a decisive 9-4 victory over Michigan State's Curran Jacobs in the semifinal round. Jacobs had previously defeated the Wolverine, 6-5 in the tiebreaker, at the 2011 Big Ten Championships.
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 148-70-5 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).
THE WOLVERINE WRESTLING WRAP PODCAST
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. [ Wolverine Wrestling Wrap - Episode 5 (12/6/11) ]
Michigan wrestling is now on Twitter. Sign up and follow the Wolverines (umichwrestling) 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.
Michigan wrestling is also on 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.
IN THE POLLS
Michigan climbed a spot -- to the No. 8 position -- in the latest NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, released Tuesday (Dec. 6). [ Full Rankings ]
The Wolverines also boast eight 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:
Thursday, Dec. 29 -- at Mat Town Invitational (Lock Haven, Pa.), 9 a.m.
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423