Hoping to follow up on their second-place performance at last year’s NCAA wrestling Championships, the Wolverines had their share of ups and downs yesterday in Oklahoma City. Michigan finished the first of three days with a team score of 22, putting it in a fifth-place tie with Nebraska.
The day featured the first two rounds in addition to action in the consolation bracket. Four Wolverines – senior co-captains Greg Wagner and Ryan Churella and redshirt sophomores Josh Churella and Eric Tannenbaum – kept unblemished records to enter today’s quarterfinals. These four, the only returning All-Americans on the squad, did so in dominating fashion.
Wagner pinned both his opponents easily, with one pin in the first period and another early in the second. Not to be outdone by his fellow captain Ryan Churella (165-pound weight class), pinned his first-round opponent before cruising to a 9-0 second-round major decision over Hofstra’s Chris Vondruska.
Churella’s younger brother Josh followed suit in the 141-pound weight class. He wrestled in three matches and was selected to wrestle in the qualifying round as well. The only points he allowed in those three matches were on two escapes.
Tannenbaum recovered from a disappointing fifth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships to win his first two matches in the 149-pound bracket. After shutting out Wyoming’s Carter Downing 6-0, he dispatched Wisconsin’s Tyler Turner 5-1.
Other Wolverines who still remain in contention are redshirt junior Mark Moos (133) and redshirt freshman Tyrel Todd (184), though both will only be able to do damage through the consolation bracket.
Yesterday marked the end of the season for two wrestlers who had exceeded expectations by qualifying for the national tournament. True freshman Michael Watts, who was not expected to wrestle much in his first year, was eliminated. Fifth-year senior Willie Breyer saw the end of his collegiate career with an unfortunate 1-2 record.
Today’s sessions will feature the quarterfinals and semifinals and continued wrestling in the consolation bracket.
To replicate the success of last year, Michigan will need to turn to its most seasoned wrestlers to step up for the remainder of the tournament.