COLUMBUS – Any time a Michigan squad heads to Columbus and crushes Ohio State, fans of the Maize and Blue take notice.
The wrestling team cruised to a 27-6 victory over the host Buckeyes to improve its overall dual-meet record to 14-2, including a perfect 6-0 in Big Ten competition.
Coming into the meet at St. John Arena, No. 3 Michigan’s biggest fear was underestimating a struggling Ohio State team by looking ahead to its upcoming showdown with No. 1 Minnesota. Much to coach Joe McFarland’s delight, the wrestlers did not look past their opponent yesterday.
“Our guys were well focused in preparing for this meet,” McFarland said. “Obviously, we were thinking about Minnesota, but we were prepared for (yesterday).”
Michigan won eight out of 10 matches and lost the other two by just one point each. But the final score did not indicate how tough the victory truly was. Besides the three major decisions that went to the Wolverines, every other match was settled by three points or less.
The dual meet began with the 174-pound match: Wolverine Nick Roy squared off against Ohio State’s Zach Craiglow. Roy immediately set the tone for Michigan, dominating throughout to earn a 20-7 major decision. The first period featured five takedowns by Roy, who cruised thereafter. Craiglow’s only points were scored on escapes, and he mustered no offense against Roy.
The match presented a great opportunity for Roy to gain some confidence after losing three matches in the past two weeks to tough, ranked opponents.
“It feels good to get a win, especially knowing that I wrestled well,” Roy said. “I like starting up for the team, since I’m already warm coming into the match.”
With Michigan comfortably ahead for the duration of the meet, two prime matchups intrigued the spectators. Third-ranked senior co-captain Greg Wagner faced off against No. 13 Kirk Nail in the heavyweight division. Wagner defeated Nail to remain undefeated (21-0). In the 149-pound class, No. 6 Eric Tannenbaum wrestled 11th-ranked Buckeye J. Jaggers. The match was tight throughout, but Tannenbaum emerged victorious after a quick takedown in a sudden-victory overtime gave him a 6-4 decision. This sealed the win for Michigan.
“Winning close matches are crucial for developing needed confidence,” McFarland said.
Another positive from the match was the performance of Michigan’s younger and less-experienced wrestlers. At 125 pounds, true freshman Michael Watts earned his second consecutive victory with an impressive 18-9 major decision over Anner Arroyo right before halftime. Similarly, redshirt sophomore Jeff Marsh easily dispatched Buckeye Steve Wolery with a 10-1 major decision in the 157-pound class. Redshirt freshman Casey White continued his strong wrestling with a tough 3-1 decision at 197 pounds.
“The young guys all came through with wins, and that is huge, especially on the road,” McFarland said.
The Wolverines are hitting their stride at the perfect time. Next weekend features the last two dual meets of the regular season, including the aforementioned matchup with the top-ranked Golden Gophers. After three consecutive road victories, Michigan hopes to carry the momentum it has built into the postseason tournaments.
Ohio State 6