Following three rounds of focused and determined wrestling, fifth-year seniors Malik Amine and Alec Pantaleo raised their arms to the tune of “The Victors” echoing through Cliff Keen Arena. It was clear they both left everything they had on the mat, standing with their heads held high as the crowd gave them each a loud ovation.
The No. 4 Michigan wrestling team began its meet with the four graduating wrestlers — Amine and Pantaleo, as well as redshirt juniors Sal Profaci and Mike Volyanyuk — being honored with their families. The former two set the tone for a dominant victory over Clarion with a pair of convincing wins to open senior night.
After the quartet was celebrated at the beginning of the meet, the Wolverines’ other wrestlers followed suit, with two freshmen, Mason Parris and Jelani Embree, and a slew of sophomores and juniors working hard to earn key team points. It seemed as though the group got out of the blocks fast and simply never looked back, steamrolling its way to a 37-6 win.
“Our seniors, they’ve got great discipline, great leadership, great work ethic… they’ve contributed a tremendous amount to their teammates, and the Michigan wrestling program will be forever grateful for them,” said Michigan coach Sean Bormet.
Given the coach’s praise for the senior class, their leadership should come as no surprise. The Wolverines owe much of their success both during the meet and throughout the season to the seniors’ leadership.
Hopes are high for this trend to continue as March, an all-important month in the wrestling season, approaches.
“I’d say the biggest point tonight is to continue to build on the excitement you have for your wrestling, for what’s coming in March,” Bormet said.
Riding the dominant win, confidence is clearly high. For Michigan, staying the course is the message of choice as the team looks forward to the upcoming Big Ten and National Championships.
The final dual meet of the season is a time for the team as a whole to look forward to the major competitions to come, but it also is a time of reflection for the seniors.
“It’s just been a long ride, man,” Amine said. “It’s just, time flies, and I remember when I was a freshman on campus, so it’s just pretty much cherishing it and just being thankful. I thanked my parents, you know, my coaches, and it’s just been a long ride. And obviously it’s not over, but your last match at Cliff Keen, you kinda blink and it’s all over.”
Amine’s sentiment expresses exactly how grateful these seniors are for their experiences as Michigan wrestlers. He encapsulated the nostalgia felt by these men, a feeling that he, a member of a proud family legacy, feels to an intense degree.
“When I look back, when I have kids and they grow up, having the whole entire legacy my grandpa started in the 1960s, it’s just a crazy thing to think about,” Amine said. “I’m lucky to be an Amine.”