It happened in a flash.
Everyone saw it coming, but it still stunned the masses at Madison Square Garden.
Sophomore No. 2 heavyweight Mason Parris suddenly turned a fireman’s carry into a quick half nelson, putting Rutgers’ Alex Esposito on his back just 1 minute and 17 seconds into the match. Parris quickly pinned Esposito, securing the dual meet win for No. 25 Michigan (6-3 overall, 5-1 Big Ten). The Wolverines held off a massive comeback attempt from the No. 23 Scarlet Knights (8-5, 3-4), winning, 21-16.
Michigan got out to an early lead, using several strong performances at the lower weights. After the first five matches, the Wolverines took a 15-3 lead into the break. Michigan got a boost from redshirt sophomore Jack Medley at 125 pounds, who defeated No. 16 Nicolas Aguilar in a hard-fought match to start the meet. Medley did well defending against leg attacks early in the match, getting into scrambles and getting out of trouble when Aguilar was in deep. Medley then scored a quick escape in the second period and rode Aguilar in the third period for a one-minute riding time advantage, giving him the extra point to secure him the decision.
“His greatest strength is his mentality,” Michigan coach Sean Bormet said. “He’s incredibly determined, incredibly consistent. He doesn’t shy away from hard work, and it shows.”
The Wolverines also got a dramatic win at 157 pounds from No. 12 redshirt freshman Will Lewan, who secured a takedown with 10 seconds left in the third period after trailing all match. Lewan went in for the kill as the seconds waned to roaring approval from the crowd at The Garden.
Redshirt senior Austin Assad nearly secured an upset early at 133 pounds, as he led throughout his match against No. 10 Sammy Alvarez. But Alvarez secured a takedown in the third period and rode out Assad to escape with a win.
Michigan also got bonus points early in the meet from a technical fall at 149 pounds by No. 9 redshirt junior Kanen Storr, and a particularly impressive major-decision win by freshman 141-pounder Cole Mattin. Mattin broke the match open with a big six-point move out of a scramble, flipping Scarlet Knight Zach Firestone over his head and onto his back. Mattin notched two points for the takedown and another four for near-fall. He built off this momentum to secure two more takedowns, ending with the major decision.
“There was a moment where he had to decide if he was satisfied, or if he wanted to go for it and try to get bonus points for our team,” Bormet said. “So I was glad to see him make that decision and put his head down and go for it for the team.”
After the break, momentum drastically flipped. Rutgers came storming back, with Willie Scott picking up a bonus point from a major decision over Michigan freshman Max Maylor at 174 pounds. The Scarlet Knights won four straight matches to take their first lead of the dual, 16-15.
“Our attack rate, our confidence, some of the things that are essential, they started to slip a little bit,” Bormet said of the bouts at the higher weights after the break.
In the end, though, Parris slammed the door on Rutgers, pinning Esposito in the first to secure the dual win for the Wolverines.
“It was great to get a team win, it took a team effort to get that win,” Bormet said. “The lightweights were really gritty. … Once we got to heavyweight, Mason as our anchor, I could see that determined look on his face and knew there was going to be some fireworks early.”