The No. 5 Michigan wrestling team overcame a 9-0 deficit to earn a 24-15 victory over No. 14 Central Michigan at Cliff Keen Arena on Sunday. The arena was packed with fans and was divided almost equally between Wolverine and Chippewa supporters.
The highlight of the match was the showdown between Central Michigan’s No. 2 David Bolyard and Michigan’s No. 4 Ryan Churella at 165 pounds. The two wrestlers emerged from the first period scoreless before Churella took control of the match with several takedowns in the second. Entering the third period with an 8-0 advantage, Churella earned one more point for riding time and earned a 9-0 shutout.
“Ryan is a monster,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. “He’s really adjusted to that weight class. He just went out there and really stayed on it. He’s tough on top. He’s really developed in all of his areas. But when he’s on top, he can score a lot of points.”
The win gave Michigan a 14-9 lead — a lead it never relinquished.
The following match at 174 pounds provided quite an encore to the featured match at 165.
Michigan’s No. 11 Nick Roy faced off against Central Michigan’s No. 8 Mitch Hancock. After the first period saw warnings to each wrestler for stalling, Roy took a 3-0 lead in the second. Hancock got as close as 3-2 in the third before Roy scored a two-point takedown with just six seconds left in the match to preserve the victory, 5-2.
“I thought, for the most part, we wrestled hard,” McFarland said. “We wrestled intense. I just wasn’t happy with the effort at a couple of those weight classes. Really, the ones we lost, I thought we were capable of winning all of those matches. That’s what I’m disappointed in.”
After falling behind 18-9 following Hancock’s loss, Central Michigan made a charge at Michigan with two consecutive victories at 184 and 197 pounds. No. 19 Alex Lammers earned a 4-2 victory over Wolverine Joshua Weitzel and Central Michigan sophomore Wynn Michalak won a 11-7 decision over senior Willie Breyer to bring the Chippewas within six points at 21-15.
In a surprise move, the Chippewas sent sophomore Bubba Gritter onto the mat against No. 2 heavyweight Greg Wagner. Central had the option to wrestle No. 11 Bill Stouffer, but went with Gritter against the undefeated Wagner. Wagner dominated the match and scored several late takedowns to earn an 8-3 decision and make the final team score 24-15.
“I thought Wagner did a good job,” McFarland said. “He kept the pressure on and scored a lot of points late in the match, which is important.”
Michigan opened the match with an unexpected move as well, forfeiting the first match and six points at 125 pounds. Junior Mark Moos — ranked No. 5 at 125 pounds by Amateur Wrestling News — made the jump up to 133 pounds to face No. 20 Jason Borelli. Moos led early in the match but eventually lost a 10-8 decision after Borelli scored a take down and several near-fall points in the final frame.
“I think we’re going to bump (Moos) up (to 133 pounds) for the rest of the year,” McFarland said. “Mark has been having a hard time with his weight, and I think the best thing is to move him up. I think he’ll be more comfortable at 133. He’s just really outgrown 125.”
After Central forfeited the 149-pound match, No. 3 Ryan Bertin — Michigan’s senior captain — squared off against unranked Eric Neil. Bertin raced out to an 8-3 lead by the second period, but suffered a deep cut over his right eye 1:48 into the period.
“We kind of just smashed heads,” Bertin said. “We both shot at the same time, and I caught the corner of his head, and my head split open.”
After a long delay to tend to the injury, Bertin returned and finished off Neil with a 16-6 major decision.
Before last week, Bertin had never had the misfortune of having stitches before. But after a similar injury in practice a few days before, he has now had them sewn in twice in less than seven days.
“It bothered me a little bit, but you just keep wrestling,” Bertin said.
The match was the Wolverines’ first since a 40-9 drubbing of Cleveland State at home on Dec. 10, but conditioning did not seem to be a real factor after a hard week of practice following the holidays.
McFarland will prepare his team for the Lone Star Duels on Saturday in Dallas. The Wolverines will square off in three consecutive dual meets that day against No. 4 Nebraska, No. 23 Army and unranked Stanford.