Michigan senior Pat Owen made a statement this weekend. The
Michigan wrestling team’s 165-pounder proved to everyone that
he’s a legitimate contender for the national title. Owen
battled his way to the finals of the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las
Vegas, leading a Michigan team that finished in second place behind
“Pat (Owen) did a great job,” Michigan coach Joe
McFarland said. “He wrestled well all weekend. He was really
focused all weekend. That’s the way he’s going to need
to compete all year.”
After a stunning upset of top-seeded Jacob Volkmann of
Minnesota, Owen, seeded eighth, topped Eastern Michigan’s
J.J. Holmes in the semifinals.
In the championship round, Owen lost a close match decided by
riding time to second-seeded J.P. Reese of Missouri. Owen was one
of the six Michigan wrestlers who made it to the semifinals and one
of four who made it to the finals.
All four of Michigan’s finalists, including defending
national champion Ryan Bertin, fell in their last matches.
“We didn’t have a great final round,
obviously,” McFarland said. “That’s definitely
something we can work and improve on as the season
The top-seeded Bertin squared off against rival Alex Tirapelle
of Illinois in the 157-pound finals. Bertin beat Tirapelle in the
finals of the NCAA Championships last season to become the first
national champion from Michigan since 1986. This time around,
Tirapelle got his revenge in the form of a 4-2 victory to claim the
Cliff Keen Invitational title.
Freshman sensation Mark Moos pinned All-American Bobbe Lowe of
Minnesota to reach the finals. In the championship match, Moos lost
a close battle to top-ranked Jason Powell of Nebraska.
“I think Mark proved to himself and everyone else that he
can compete with the best in the country,” McFarland said.
“He was wrestling with a sore rib all weekend, and I knew he
wasn’t feeling so great, but he was really focusing in. He
was wrestling with a lot of intensity.”
Michigan heavyweight Greg Wagner wrestled his way into the
finals, but ran into 2002 NCAA champion Tommy Rowlands of Ohio
Wagner was able to keep the match close early on, but Rowlands
was just too much. The Buckeye scored three takedowns in the second
and third periods to win a 11-5 decision.
Several other Michigan wrestlers, including Ryan Churella
(third), Clark Forward (fourth) and true freshman Joshua Weitzel
(eighth), also placed in the annual tournament.
“I thought the guys competed well this weekend.”
McFarland said. “These guys came here, and they were ready to