Michigan wrestling coach Joe McFarland doesn’t want to hear the old adage that it’s not about how you start, but about how you finish.

In his team’s 24-12 loss to No. 5 Ohio State (5-2 Big Ten, 11-2 overall) on Friday, the 19th-ranked Wolverines (2-5, 8-6) failed to score in the first period in seven out of their 10 matches, allowing the Buckeyes to take control in close matches that could have gone either way.

“We found ourselves in tough matches that we didn’t take control of right away,” McFarland said.

The lack of aggression from Michigan proved costly in matches that could’ve altered the outcome of the dual meet. McFarland pointed to the 174- and 197-pound weight classes as matches where more offensive wrestling could have led to Wolverine victories.

In the 174-pound match, Michigan redshirt junior Dan Yates didn’t attack early on in his match, as he quickly fell behind against Ohio State’s Nick Heflin. Yates — ranked No. 10 nationally — wasn’t able to overcome the early deficit, allowing No. 7 Heflin to win the 3-2 decision. 197-pound redshirt sophomore Max Huntley suffered from a similar lack of aggression, scoring only once in the first two rounds before giving up a late takedown to lose a 3-1 decision.

“In some of these matches, we just didn’t wrestle hard enough,” McFarland said. “We didn’t commit to a full seven minutes. That’s not going to win you big matches, bottom line.”

One of the lone bright spots for the Wolverines in terms of attacking early was 125-pound redshirt junior Sean Boyle. Boyle, ranked No. 15 nationally, scored on a takedown with 40 seconds left in the first period against No. 12 Nikko Triggas. After the takedown, Triggas spent the remainder of the match attempting to flip Boyle, but failed to do so, allowing Boyle to leave the mat with a 2-1 decision and his second consecutive victory over a higher-ranked opponent.

“I knew he was really good on top and I did a good job of fighting and not giving up any turns,” Boyle said.

While Boyle started the meet off strong for Michigan, the Buckeyes’ Stieber brothers — both ranked in the top two of their individual weight classes — thwarted the Wolverines’ momentum, earning bonus points for Ohio State in consecutive matches against 133-pound Michigan freshman Rossi Bruno and 141-pound redshirt junior Mike Hillock.

149-pound Michigan redshirt junior Eric Grajales continued his Big Ten dual-meet success, registering an escape and 1:32 of riding time to earn a 2-0 decision. No. 10 Grajales improved to 7-0 in conference competition with the victory.

Though the lack of aggression from many Wolverine wrestlers decided the meet before his match, Michigan heavyweight fifth-year senior Ben Apland won his final match in Cliff Keen Arena, posting a 6-1 decision to conclude the meet.

Despite the loss, the Wolverines left Cliff Keen knowing they gave one of the top teams in the country a challenge. If they’d only been more aggressive, they could’ve left having handed a rival an upset defeat.

“I felt if we wrestled a really good duel, we could beat these guys, and I still do,” McFarland said. “We lost some close matches. We let it get away from us.”

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