Despite the aid of a loudspeaker, the roar of 1,306 intense wrestling fans almost drowned out his voice.
“Otto Olson shows you why he”s your captain,” announcer Matt Stout said.
The 174-pounder Olson”s pin of 19th-ranked Ryan Hieber brought the Wolverines within two points of Ohio State with only 184-pounder Andy Hrovat left to wrestle. At this point, Hrovat”s biggest fan his father knew No. 9 Ohio State had blown their chance at an upset.
“That was a tremendous bout Otto had,” Bob Hrovat said. ” All Andy had to do was win the match (instead of needing bonus points). It was over before his match even started as far as that team was concerned.”
Hrovat”s 13-5 major decision gave the Wolverines a 20-18 victory. Coupled with Friday night”s 24-14 domination of No. 22 Indiana, No. 3 Michigan (5-1 Big Ten, 15-3-1 overall) continued its trek to the top of college wrestling.
“They have a very nice young team and we have a very nice young team,” Ohio State coach Russ Helickson said. “There will be close battles for these kids. I think that a lot of these guys will be multiple All-Americans and probably multiple national champions.”
Coach Helickson possibly could have had one more All-American on his roster if he had recruited Hrovat, a product of St. Edward”s High School in Ohio.
“He”s a heck of a wrestler I probably should have recruited him harder,” Helickson said.
Helickson rejected the notion that his recruiting efforts decided the outcome of the match.
“That match was decided in a lot of places,” Helickson said. “Unfortunately it wasn”t always in the hands of the kids. Three matches were decided by somebody else.”
Olson”s match was at the foremost of Helickson”s officiating complaints.
“There was an illegal move going on the entire time the pinning combination was going on,” Helickson said. “Otto”s a tough kid. I have nothing whatsoever against him.”
Olson rejected Helickson”s claim.
“It was a legal move,” Olson said.
Some of Michigan”s top wrestlers did not win. The Wolverines were trailing 18-7 when the heart of the lineup 165-pounder Charles Martelli, Olson and Hrovat stepped up and rescued the victory.
Michigan coach Joe McFarland”s starting lineup includes three Ohio natives Hrovat, 141-pounder Clark Forward and 149-pounder Mike Kulczycki with a total of seven high-school state titles. Hrovat is happy where he is.
“I didn”t really want to go to Ohio State,” Hrovat said. “The style that we wrestle is what got everyone up here. It”s a great wrestling style because we are after it for seven minutes.”
The team was unable to defeat the Buckeyes by a greater margin than they had beat then-No. 3 Iowa the week before.
Although he was displeased with the team”s overall performance, McFarland will take the win as it came.
“It just shows you what kind of heart we have,” he said. “It shows what kind of guts we have on this team.”
Hrovat was thrilled to wrestle last.
“I wanted to put an exclamation mark on our victory,” Hrovat said. “I knew if something didn”t go our way it was going to come down to me. I have never had a match come down to me.”