Michigan overcomes early deficit to top Spartans

Sunday, February 5, 2017 - 4:07pm

Redshirt junior Ernest Battaglia won his first start since defaulting out of a match against Illinois on Jan. 20.

Redshirt junior Ernest Battaglia won his first start since defaulting out of a match against Illinois on Jan. 20. Buy this photo
Max Kuang/Daily

 

EAST LANSING — Following the 149-pound bout, things looked bleak for the No. 10 Michigan wrestling team. 

Redshirt sophomore Malik Amine had raced out to an early 7-2 lead, but was unable to hold on as Michigan State’s Nick Trimble stormed back to earn a 13-8 victory. The Wolverines trailed 9-4 at that point and were in danger of taking their second-straight loss to an in-state foe following a loss to Central Michigan last Thursday.

But senior Brian Murphy put the Wolverines (4-4 Big Ten, 8-5 overall) back on track by earning two third-frame takedowns to ensure a 5-1 triumph over Austin Thompson in the 157-pound weight class. Redshirt freshmen Logan Massa and Myles Amine followed up Murphy’s performance with technical falls to springboard Michigan to a 24-9 lead. The score could have been more lopsided had redshirt junior Ayoola Olapo’s injury not forced the Wolverines to forfeit the heavyweight match, giving the Spartans (1-7, 4-10) the final six points of the meet.

“We mentioned briefly after we got back from Central Michigan, ‘Don’t forget how we felt when we got back,’ ” said Michigan coach Joe McFarland. “We had to make sure that we wrestled better today, and I think for the most part we did.”

Massa scored early and often in the 165-pound bout, nabbing six takedowns in the first period to take a 12-5 advantage. He added four more takedowns in the next two stanzas en route to his 23-8 win over former high-school teammate Drew Hughes, putting Michigan ahead for good. Massa’s individual record this season is now 23-1.

Amine also had a stellar bout, earning five takedowns and 3:28 of riding time in the first two periods, which gave him a 13-3 lead. But Amine was most dominant in the third period, as he used a double-leg and a near fall to secure the 21-5 technical-fall victory.

“We’ve talked a lot about bonus points,” McFarland said. “If you’re working towards bonus points, that means you’re wrestling aggressively and you’re working hard.”

Yet the most surprising result of the day was that of redshirt junior Ernest Battaglia in the 184-pound bout. In his first start since defaulting out of a match against Illinois on Jan. 20, Battaglia netted three takedowns, eight back points and 2:05 of riding time en route to a 16-5 major-decision win.

“Bouncing back with this win, especially against an in-state rival, it’s always nice,” Battaglia said. “You just sometimes have to weather the storm and stay solid.”

Redshirt freshman Jackson Stiggow sealed the dual meet for the Wolverines with a 7-1 victory over the Spartans’ Matt Okaiye. Stiggow nearly earned a major-decision on a potential takedown near the end of the third period but did not receive the call from the official.

The middle and heavyweights were not the only ones who found success against the Spartans, though.

Redshirt freshman Stevan Micic dominated his match at 133 pounds, as he cruised to a 10-2 major decision win over Javier Garcia. Micic outscored Garcia 6-0 in the third period thanks to 2:06 of riding time, two stalling points and a single-leg takedown.

With Sunday’s triumph, Michigan has now won its last seven dual meets against Michigan State and is 69-35-3 in the all-time series.