It was a day of firsts for the Michigan wrestling team on Friday.
True freshman Craig Gilleson and redshirt freshman Josh Churella both picked up their first wins at Cliff Keen Arena en route to the Wolverines’ first dual meet win of the season.
No. 5 Michigan (1-1) was dominant in its 40-9 defeat of Cleveland State (1-1).
The Wolverines started the meet out slowly, forfeiting at the 125-pound weight class when starter Mark Moos was unable to make weight.
With Michigan losing 6-0 after the forfeit, Gilleson was able to turn the tide for Michigan with a pin of Cleveland State’s Matt Shultz in 1:26 in the 133-pound weight class.
“I was real happy with the way Craig got us going tonight,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. “I really liked how he came out so aggressively.”
Gilleson got a quick takedown 30 seconds into the match and was in control throughout. He was able to turn Shultz to his back easily, and, after struggling for 40 seconds, Gilleson picked up the pin.
“I was pretty nervous coming out and put some pressure on myself,” Gilleson said. “I got that cradle locked up tight and pinned him.”
Churella followed Gilleson and was able to keep the momentum going by picking up a 4-1 minor decision on Cleveland State’s Mike Hurley in the 141-pound weight class bout.
Churella took the lead with a takedown midway through the first period and never looked back. He accumulated 3:09 of riding time en route to his first collegiate victory.
“I thought Josh did a great job today,” McFarland said. “He really looked comfortable on the mat.”
This was Churella’s first appearance of the season. He has been sidelined by a high ankle sprain.
“It took a long time for me to recover,” Churella said. “I was debating on whether or not to come back (for this match) or in January, but I’m real glad I came back now. This is going to help me get back into shape for the Big Ten season.”
Despite his strong performance, Churella looked a little rusty in his return.
“I think my technique was all right, but my mat shape was not where it needs to be,” Churella said.
Redshirt sophomore J.R. Muldoon had been wrestling in Churella’s place, and, although there have been no official wrestle-offs for the 141-pound weight class, Churella will probably be the starter come January.
With Churella’s victory, the Wolverines regained the lead for good
Michigan got four more pins and won eight of the remaining nine weight classes after the consecutive victories by Gilleson and Churella,
Co-captains Churella and Ryan Bertin were both impressive, winning by pin and major decision, respectively.
“It was nice to get a win today before the break,” Bertin said. “This match is going to give us a good indicator of what we need to work on before the season picks up again after break.”
Michigan has a three-week layoff before it resume its non conference dual meet schedule. Michigan faces No. 13 Central Michigan on Jan. 2 at Cliff Keen Arena.