Michigan clutch in close matches
On Sunday, everything was clicking in timely fashion for the Michigan wrestling team. With eight seconds left in his match, redshirt sophomore Malik Amine pounced for a successful takedown, propelling him to a win over Lehigh’s Laike Gardner, the 11th-ranked wrestler in the nation in the 149-pound weight class.
Combining clutch late-match points with signature hard-nose wrestling, the 14th-ranked Wolverines dominated No. 10 Lehigh on Senior Day, coming away with a 24-13 victory, increasing their winning streak to three.
Redshirt senior Conor Youtsey started off the meet for the Wolverines in the 125-pound weight class. Lehigh’s Darian Cruz — ranked eighth in the country — utilized early riding time and a takedown to gain the advantage. Youtsey mounted a comeback, but with a late takedown and an escape, Cruz struck first for the Mountain Hawks with a 4-2 win.
However, Michigan turned on the jets starting at the 133-pound weight class, powering their way to five straight wins.
“Our effort was there, our guys are doing a good job of imposing our will on theirs,” said Michigan coach Joe McFarland. “If you do that and put yourself in the driver’s seat, we got a lot of momentum early on.”
Redshirt freshman Stevan Micic — the seventh-ranked wrestler at 133 pounds — started this push, firing off takedown after takedown and driving his way to a 21-4 victory via technical fall.
But it was redshirt freshman Sal Profaci who jumpstarted the momentum of the whole dual with his 3-2 decision over Lehigh’s Randy Cruz in the 141-pound match. Profaci shot early and claimed the first two points of the match. As Profaci seemed commanding, his foe was countering most of his shot attempts. Cruz scraped back two points to tie the bout, but Profaci’s control over the duration of the matchup awarded him the crucial winning point through riding time.
Amine, senior Brian Murphy and redshirt freshman Logan Massa followed suit, all prevailing through a decision, a fall and another decision, respectively. Murphy put the crowd on its feet with his pin at 1:50, capping off Michigan’s dominant start to the dual.
“I just trust the process, and honestly stay in the match and just battle,” Amine said. “The kid was tough and I knew it was going to be a close match. I was chipping away at him. … I scored the takedown and I think that was the turning point in the match.”
Redshirt freshman Myles Amine and redshirt junior Aaron Calderon both dropped the next two matchups. Amine’s loss of riding time and late forfeit of takedowns led to his 6-2 defeat, while Calderon allowed some escapes, ultimately resulting in his 6-4 loss.
Redshirt freshman Jackson Striggow reversed the momentum, though, with his 9-0 major decision over Lehigh’s Tom Murray. Striggow’s multitude of takedowns paired with over one minute of riding time led to his success, effectively clinching the match for the Wolverines.
With a win over a top-10 team, Michigan is peaking at the right time, while it capped its season at Cliff Keen Arena in style.