YPSILANTI — The 20th annual Open Wrestling Tournament at Eastern Michigan University began with 500 wrestlers, including 18 representing the Michigan wrestling team.

The event ended after 12 hours of head-to-head, body-on-body contact with one heavyweight champion in the freshman-sophomore category: Michigan freshman Justin Dozier. Though it was Dozier’s first college title, he was familiar with the winners’ circle — he was titled Michigan’s State Champion his senior year at Woodhaven High School.

It appeared almost inevitable that Dozier would take down every opponent that was unfortunate enough to challenge him. He had a phenomenal start to the contest, as well as his athletic college career, with a pin just more than five minutes into his match against Heidelberg’s freshman Tyler Smith.

Not long after, Dozier pinned his next victim and advanced to the semifinals of the heavyweights.

The wrestlers entered the tournament as individuals, unattached to the team, so the coaches were initially hesitant to advise and yell from the sides of the mat. But they eventually gave in as Dozier consistently showed his physical strength and mental willpower.

Dozier won the semifinal match, 4-0, before competing for the crown.

The majority of the teams and spectators had left the field house and mats were being rolled. But his Michigan coaches and teammates gathered around to watch Dozier rally a win.

Dozier found himself up against Ohio State’s freshman Orry Elor. The Wolverine trailed by a point in the second period. In the final minute, Dozier scored with a double-leg takedown, leaving no time for Elor to retaliate. It ended as a 4-3 victory for the Michigan freshman, another tally in his already overflowing win column.

“Justin Dozier, who’s our only champion, gets beat (in practice) pretty bad,” said Michigan assistant coach Donny Pritzlaff. “To see him come out here and have a lot of success, I think is important for him to gain some confidence.”

After discarding his four opponents, Dozier left with yet another champion title, which may very well foreshadow the season ahead.

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