Week #5: at Southern Scuffle

Dec. 27, 2010


Wed-Thu., Dec. 29-30 -- at Southern Scuffle (Greensboro, N.C.), 10 a.m.
Tournament Page | Live Brackets | Video

After its three-week break for final exams and the holidays, the No. 15-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team will return to competition at the Southern Scuffle on Wednesday and Thursday (Dec. 29-30) in Greensboro, N.C. Action will begin Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum's Special Events Center. It will be the Wolverines' second consecutive appearance at the annual tournament.

In its eighth year, the Southern Scuffle will feature more than 400 wrestlers from 30 teams. Among the teams slated to appear are No. 1 Cornell, No. 3 Minnesota, No. 4 Penn State, No. 13 Oregon State and No. 23 Kent State.

Former Wolverine All-American Tyrel Todd (2006-09) will headline Michigan's free wrestling clinic on Sunday, Jan. 2, from 10 a.m.-noon at the Bahna Wrestling Center. The clinic is open to all ages and skill levels and will feature technique instruction from Todd and members of the Wolverines' coaching staff. For any further information regarding the clinic, please contact the Michigan wrestling office at 734-647-1223.

Michigan's Projected Southern Scuffle Lineup

Wgt. Name Year/Elig. Hometown (High School)
125 Sean Boyle So./So. Lowell, Mass. (Blair Academy)
125 Grant Pizzo So./Fr. Brighton, Mich. (Brighton)
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)
157 Aaron Hynes 5th/Sr. Mt. Morris, Mich. (Flint Kearsley)
157 Brandon Zeerip So./Fr. Fremont, Mich. (Hesperia)
165 Dan Yates So./Fr. Hesperia, Mich. (Hesperia)
174 Justin Zeerip Sr./Jr. Fremont, Mich. (Hesperia)
184 Hunter Collins Jr./So. Gilroy, Calif. (Gilroy)
197 Anthony Biondo 5th/Sr. Clinton Twp., Mich. (Chippewa Valley)
Hwt Ben Apland Jr./So. Woodridge, Ill. (Downers Grove South)
Hwt Chad Bleske 5th/Sr. Washington, Mich. (Romeo)

Complete Statistics: Through Dec. 5

Anthony Biondo and Dave Johnson placed third at 197 pounds and eighth at 157 pounds, respectively, to pace the Wolverine team to 14th place (54 points) at the 2009 Southern Scuffle in U-M's first appearance at the annual holiday tournament. Michigan held sixth place and boasted four quarterfinalists -- Biondo, Sean Boyle (125 pounds), Zac Stevens (133) and Justin Zeerip (174) -- after the first day of competition but slipped to 14th after a tough second day.

Behind the efforts of four Wolverine placewinners, including 141-pound champion Kellen Russell, Michigan claimed sixth place (86.5 points) at the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Dec. 3-4), just 4.5 points out of the top five. In addition to Russell, the Maize and Blue earned placing performances from junior/sophomore Ben Apland, who was second at heavyweight, fifth-year senior captain Anthony Biondo, who took fourth at 197 pounds, and sophomore/freshman Dan Yates, who defaulted to eighth place at 165.

The Maize and Blue was to open its Big Ten Conference season at Wisconsin on Dec. 12, but after weather and travel delays prevented the Wolverines from making the trip, the dual was postponed and rescheduled for 7 p.m. CST on Friday, Feb. 4.

What Happens in Vegas -- Senior/junior Kellen Russell became just the eighth Wolverine wrestler all-time to win two individual Cliff Keen Invitational titles, capturing the 141-pound crown with a 5-0 record. He defeated three ranked opponents, including Illinois' No. 2 Jimmy Kennedy and Cal Poly's No. 9 Boris Novachkov in his final two matches. Russell used a quick attack and solid defense to edge Novachkov in the championship match, striking on a first-period duck under before battling through a couple late scrambles to win, 3-2. His victory against Kennedy in the semifinals came early when Russell converted on a duck early in the first before catching the Illini wrestler in a half to earn his first pin of the season at the 1:16 mark. With the weekend performance, Russell was named the Big Ten Conference Wrestler of the Week and climbed to the nation's No. 1 ranking at 141 pounds in all major polls. He is a perfect 10-0 on the season.

Dual Domination -- Senior/junior Kellen Russell held off a late charge against Lehigh's Stephen Dutton on Nov. 19 to secure a 6-5 decision and extend his dual winning streak to 18 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 the season. Russell boasts an impressive 38-6 dual record over his collegiate career.

Big Ben -- Behind his solid runner-up performance at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Dec. 3-4), junior/sophomore Ben Apland made his debut in the national rankings, settling at the No. 9 spot in the latest InterMat poll. Apland knocked off three straight ranked opponents en route to the heavyweight final, including a 6-2 decision against Central Michigan's fifth-ranked Jarod Trice in the semifinals. Apland has wrestled exclusively ranked opponents this season, going 3-3 through his first six matches of the year. Using the latest InterMat poll, Apland losses have come against the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 8 nationally ranked heavyweights.

Calling the Shots -- 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 137-65-5 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.

The Wolverines moved up several spots to the No. 15 position in the latest NWCA/USA Today Division I Team Coaches poll, released Tuesday (Dec. 21). Michigan also boasts six individuals ranked among the top 25 wrestlers in their respective weight classes in the InterMat, Amateur Wrestling News, WIN Magazine or Division I College Wrestling polls:

125 Sean Boyle NR NR NR 23
133 Zac Stevens 19 13 NR 20
141 Kellen Russell 1 1 1 1
174 Justin Zeerip NR NR NR 25
197 Anthony Biondo 15 12 16 18
Hwt Ben Apland 7 12 8 7

Fri-Sat., Jan. 7-8 -- at Virginia Duals (Hampton, Va.), 9 a.m.
Friday, Jan. 14 -- vs. Purdue (Cliff Keen Arena), 7 p.m.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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