Led by Coon, sophomore wrestling class doesn't miss a beat

Allison Farrand/Daily
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By Ben Fidelman, Daily Sports Writer
Published September 18, 2014

Adam Coon, like he as all season, dominated the competition this summer.

Only this time, he traded in his maize and blue singlet for one with “USA” on the chest.

The sophomore was selected to compete for Team USA in the FILA World Championships in Croatia, and was the only wrestler to enter both the Greco-Roman and freestyle tournaments. He took home bronze medals in both.

Michigan wrestling coach Joe McFarland wants his team to learn from all competitions, and Coon believes he has learned from last year’s postseason and this summer’s international events. Coon said watching many of the competing nations, including Iranians, Georgians and Russians, allowed him to see what it was like to have flawless technique and be extra aggressive — something he’s now focusing on back in Ann Arbor.

“If I can combine both of those,” Coon said. “I will be absolutely unstoppable. Perfect technique with the aggression to go with it — that’s your perfect recipe.”

Coon’s performance was impressive not only because of the end result — two medals — but also how he won them. In the 10 total matches over the course of both tournaments, Coon went 8-2 with two technical falls and five pins.

“Those numbers are nothing less than impressive,” McFarland. “The way he made the teams and how he competed in both the Greco and Freestyle, which is virtually unheard of, really says a lot about his character and the kind of competitor he is.”

After he spent most of his freshman season as the No. 1 wrestler in the heavyweight division, many expected big things from him heading into the Big Ten and NCAA Championships. To his admission, the results of those tournaments were lackluster.

“I was a lot more driven (this summer) because I had such a bad Big Ten and NCAA Tournament,” Coon said. “It fueled my fire. I went after it even harder and gave it the best that I could. Would I say that I wrestled better than I did (in the college postseason)? No. Did I wrestle with more aggression and more to lose? Yeah.”

Coon, along with Dominic Abounader and Brian Murphy — members of the 2013 recruiting class — had an immediate impact for the Wolverines last season. Coon led the group with a 32-5 record, Murphy at 18-9 and Abounader at 16-11. Abounader and Murphy finished third and fourth, respectively, at the Big Ten Championships.

It’s not uncommon for wrestlers to redshirt their sophomore year if they’re coming off a stellar start to their college career, but all three of the Michigan sophomores are coming back in full force for this 2014 campaign.

“We are going to put our best team on the mat,” McFarland said. “All three of those guys learned an awful lot, as most student-athletes do, in their first year of competition. You learn where the bar is. The grind of that first year turns you into a man.”

Coon believes the squad is going to be a powerhouse this year. Crediting tenacity in the practice room and a great group of freshmen, he maintains that the team is going to finish better than it has recently.