At the National Team Dual Meet Championships this weekend in Columbus, the Michigan wrestling team will be facing the nation”s best. As the No. 4 seed in the tournament, the Wolverines will face Edinboro in the first round. If they win, No. 5 Iowa and No. 1 Minnesota stand in their way of the championship.

Paul Wong
Kyle Smith (left) and his Michigan teammates will take an undefeated team record to the National Team Dual Meet Championships this weekend.<br><br>BRENDAN O”DONNELL/Daily

Given the grueling nature of this weekend”s competition, Michigan coach Joe McFarland wants to retain his team”s conditioning and intensity.

The Wolverines (6-0) will be using shorter, crisper practices to ready themselves. With two afternoons of hard competition awaiting, fatigue and injury is something McFarland wants to avoid.

“I think the guys are in great shape we”re just going to fine-tune a few things ,” McFarland said.

Injured heavyweight Matt Brink will be evaluated in practice this week. His presence will be key for Michigan, as he currently holds a No. 6 ranking. While his knee injury may be healed, rustiness in competition may keep the senior from competing at his best. But Brink has been determined to jump back into the mix, rigorously attending to his rehabilitation and conditioning regimen. Because of his work, Brink should see some competition this weekend as he returns to form.

Brink “looked pretty good (last night) it didn”t bother him at all,” McFarland said.

Although Brink”s injury affects the Wolverines” depth, Michigan still has the enviable advantage of competing with some of the nation”s top wrestlers in practice. In addition to headliners like No. 4 Andy Hrovat (184 weight-class) and No. 2 Otto Olson (174), wrestlers like No. 5 Ryan Bertin (157), No. 6 Mike Kulczycki (149), No. 10 Foley Dowd (133) and No. 10 A.J. Grant (125) provide top-flight competition for their teammates.

“We”ve had some really good practices this year,” McFarland said. “It takes all 32 guys pushing each other.”

Wrestling is a sport that”s incredibly reliant on work ethic, and this year”s squad certainly possesses that quality in abundance.

“We have a good group of guys that are really focused,” McFarland said. Michigan”s unprecedented success, “doesn”t surprise me one bit because I see the effort they put into it.”

In many ways, the unique challenges of this weekend”s prestigious National Duals provide a litmus test for the team”s preparation.

“Every one of those duals is going to be physically tough, but that”s what we prepare for,” McFarland said. “I think these guys are excited about it.”

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