ST. LOUIS — Great expectations.

Mira Levitan
Michigan redshirt junior Ryan Bertin, along with teammate Ryan Churella, placed third at the NCAA Championships. (JASON COOPER/Daily)

As the defending national champion at 157 pounds,
Michigan’s Ryan Bertin entered this past weekend’s
Division I National Championships surrounded by high hopes.

It’s amazing how dreams can be shattered in less than a
minute.

Bertin suffered a devastating loss in overtime to
Stanford’s undefeated Matt Gentry in the semifinals. Michigan
entered the tournament ranked third in the nation, but finished
10th overall.

“Ryan wrestled a tough match,” Michigan coach Joe
McFarland said. “It was just one of those matches that
wasn’t meant to be. You lose a match like that in overtime,
it’s a tough loss.”

Gentry scored a takedown early in the first period, but Bertin
quickly escaped and rebounded with a ferocious takedown of his own.
Gentry eventually escaped, and the two wrestlers garnered an escape
each for the remainder of regulation, leaving the score tied at
four.

“It was a dog fight,” McFarland said. “It was
a tough match.”

In the middle of the overtime period, Bertin shot, and there was
a scramble to take control as both wrestlers became tied up. Bertin
tried to free himself from underneath, but Gentry pulled him toward
the middle of the mat by his left leg. The Michigan captain dove at
his legs and fought to gain some control over Gentry. But he
couldn’t hold on any longer and the Cardinal rolled him over,
gained leverage and earned the takedown. Gentry went on to win the
national championship.

“I got in a scramble there; it could have went either
way,” Bertin said. “I really couldn’t have dealt
with it in another way. I wrestled hard and he came out on top and
he was the better wrestler that match.”

But that wasn’t the end for the Wolverine. His bout for
third place was against rival Alex Tirapelle of Illinois, who
Bertin defeated last year in the finals.

Once again, this match was decided within a scramble. But this
time, Bertin came out on top. In the final period, with the score
tied at one, Bertin shot in on a single leg and both wrestlers
struggled with each other on the mat. Bertin had Tirapelle’s
legs over his head and eventually gained control of them to get the
takedown and the win.

“I just got in on the single leg, we got into a scramble,
and I stayed up on top of him and I stayed higher than him,”
Bertin said.

Michigan sophomore Ryan Churella traveled down a similar path.
In the semi-finals the No. 4 seeded Churella faced undefeated Jesse
Jantzen of Harvard, a three-time All-American and the favorite to
win the 149-pound championship. Jantzen dominated, garnering two
near falls in the first period to an eventual 11-4 victory.

Churella bounced back in the consolation rounds, defeating
Cornell’s Dustin Manotti 9-4 to take third place.

In addition to Bertin and Churella, fifth-year senior Foley Dowd
and sophomore Greg Wagner also earned All-America honors as they
finished in sixth place in their respective weight classes.

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