Last year, after winning the Big Ten regular-season title, the
Michigan wrestling team finished third in the Big Ten
Championship.

The stumble at the finish put a damper on an otherwise
successful season and the team went on to finish 10th in the NCAA
championship.

“We were a little disappointed with our finish. We fell a
little short of our goals,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland
said.

The coaching staff has examined the reasons behind the
late-season fade. As a result, the Wolverines have made some
changes in the way they prepare for the season.

“We’ve made some adjustments and changed a few of
the workouts,” McFarland said. “We are having light
weeks so (the team) can have a breath of fresh air. Last year,
there would have been a full (wrestling room) right now, but
we’re giving the guys a week to be independent of the
team.”

Practices, at least right now, are laid back. Wrestlers are not
expected to be in Crisler at a specific time, and there is no set
training schedule.

“We are easing into things right now,” redshirt
sophomore Mark Moos said. “There is less structure (than
during regular practices).”

The wrestlers have embraced the alternative style of
practicing.

“The season is long, and (the light practices) don’t
get you into the season so soon,” said redshirt junior Ryan
Churella. “We’re still training hard, but it
isn’t the same intensity. These (practices) are going to help
us peak at the end of the year.”

Although the Wolverines take the regular season seriously,
ultimately, their focus is on the postseason.

“We expect to be the best and we haven’t reached our
goals yet,” McFarland said. “The (NCAA Championship) is
the ultimate goal, but to achieve that, we have to be there at the
end of the season. That will come down to how we
finish.”.

Senior Ryan Bertin, redshirt junior Greg Wagner and Churella
will lead the Wolverines this season. The Wolverines are also
banking on some younger wrestlers to step up this season.

“(The coaching staff) is expecting some of the young guys
to have a good season,” McFarland said. They’ve been
through the grind once now, so they know what to expect.”

The first test for the Wolverines and their new practice style
comes tomorrow when Michigan competes in the Eastern Michigan
University Open.

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