Friday night in Cliff Keen Arena, the No. 5 Michigan wrestling
team dominated intrastate rival Michigan State 31-6 on its way to a
3-0 start in Big Ten dual meet action.
Michigan coach Joe McFarland, in his fifth season, is no
stranger to the intrastate rivalry.
“There is definitely no love lost between the
programs,” McFarland said. “There is respect for each
other but there is a lot of pride on the line and a victory over
Michigan State is always a little sweeter. Our guys really stepped
up in this rivalry match.”
Michigan (3-0 Big Ten, 13-2 overall) took an early lead and
never looked back while playing the overpowered and outmatched
Spartans squad. Freshman Mark Moos and fifth-year senior captain
Foley Dowd had the Wolverines out to a 10-0 start as they both won
their matches convincingly by the scores of 6-0 and 4-0,
respectively. Dowd — ranked third by Amateur Wrestling News
at 133 lbs. — has been a tremendous contributor thus far in
the season, continually giving the Wolverines early leads. One
might be surprised at the success Dowd has experienced this season,
considering he is coming back from neck surgery this past summer
— an injury that almost left him paralyzed. McFarland has
looked to Dowd not only for consistency, but leadership as
“Foley is always there for us, winning big matches,”
McFarland said. “I’m real confident in his abilities
and coming back to the lineup from his injuries this past summer
has made him that much stronger.”
After a hard-fought loss by fifth-year senior Clark Forward (141
lbs.), the Wolverines went on a tear, winning the next four
matches. Junior Ryan Churella (149 lbs.), senior Jeremiah Tobias
(157 lbs.), fifth-year senior captain Pat Owen (165 lbs.) and
freshman Nick Roy (174 lbs.) all thoroughly handled their opponents
to extend Michigan’s lead to 25-3.
Sophomore heavyweight Greg Wagner built on his sparkling
performance against Iowa last week that won the dual meet for the
Wolverines. Wagner muscled his way to a 5-2 win over Michigan State
heavyweight Mike Keenan, closing out the Spartans’ night in
McFarland and the rest of the Wolverines have looked to Wagner
the past few weeks to help anchor the team.
“Our meets come down to having to have Greg win since
he’s a heavyweight,” McFarland said.
“That’s just the nature of dual meets. But Greg is
going to keep getting better and better. It’s nice having a
big guy who you can have a lot of confidence in.”
The Wolverines look to continue their winning ways as they hit
the road to face off with Ohio State on Friday in Columbus and Penn
State on Sunday in State College. With the bulk of the Big Ten
season coming up, the Wolverines are looking forward to staying
healthy and fresh for this important stretch.
“We want a strong finish. We want to perform well in the
Big Ten Championships and the NCAAs,” McFarland said.
“I’m not concerned about our national ranking,
that’s not important to us. We want to get better each and