The Cleveland State Vikings aren’t exactly a team to be feared in many sports. The Vikings’ basketball team? Mediocre. The men’s soccer team? Not bad. How about the football team? Actually, it’s non-existent. What about the wrestling team? Surprisingly, it has the potential to be a future powerhouse in Division I college wrestling.
Last week, the Vikings upset No. 21 Edinboro in an attempt to prove that they belong in the top 25 this season.
“We cannot take these guys lightly,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said.
The state of Ohio is one of the top five sources in the country for high school wrestling talent, which helps Cleveland State coach Jack Effner improve his recruiting class from year to year.
“Jack has done a great job over there,” McFarland said. “They’ve got a solid lineup all the way through.”
No. 6 Michigan will square off against Cleveland State Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Cliff Keen Arena in Michigan’s first home match of the 2002-03 season. The Wolverines are the heavy favorites against the Vikings, but Michigan is also coming off a disappointing performance at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas.
“(In Las Vegas) we just weren’t wrestling aggressive,” McFarland said. “We would have the lead and just try to hold on to it. We can’t wrestle like that.”
Michigan will need to be in top form against a strong Cleveland State team. The Vikings are led by brothers Rocco and Phil Mansueto in the 125 and 133-pound weight classes, respectively. In Michigan’s 29-9 win over the Vikings last season, A.J. Grant and Foley Dowd were able to beat the Mansueto brothers in close matches.
First-year Michigan starter Greg Wagner will face another tough challenge in Cleveland State’s Russ Davie (ranked No. 16 nationally at heavyweight according to Wrestling International Newsmagazine’s latest poll). Davie’s 6-0 decision over then-Michigan heavyweight Aaron Walter was Cleveland State’s only win in last season’s rout. The other six Viking team points came from a medical forfeit at the 141-pound weight class.
This weekend’s match also has personal meaning for McFarland.
“I’m from Cleveland myself, so it meant a lot when I wrestled against (Cleveland State) my sophomore year,” said McFarland, a four-time All-American at Michigan.