Getting bigger and stronger is a common goal among athletes. But for junior wrestler Mark Moos, a recent increase in size has been a mixed blessing.
In a rare midseason move, Moos jumped up from the 125-pound weight class to the 133-pound level earlier this month. Since losing his first match at 133, Moos has posted four consecutive victories. He will return home to the Cleveland area — he grew up in nearby Lorain, Ohio — when No. 4 Michigan (1-0 Big Ten, 6-1 overall) goes to the Cliff Keen/NWCA National Dual this weekend. The tournament features 16 Division I teams, including seven top-10 schools. As the No. 3 seed, the Wolverines will take on No. 16 Arizona State in their first match.
Moos made weight at 125 pounds for the first two meets of the season but was frustrated when it became tougher each week. In previous years, it became easier as the season progressed and his conditioning improved.
“I definitely outgrew that weight class,” Moos said. “I talked with my high school coaches and my parents when I was home over Christmas. Once I came back, coach and I sat down and talked. He thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea for me.”
The move provided immediate relief for Moos.
“He was just sending me signs all the time that he was too big for the weight class,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. “We thought it was the best to move him up into 133 where he’s going to be able to concentrate more on becoming a better wrestler, getting in better shape and (improving) his wrestling skills.”
But Moos was never guaranteed the 133-pound slot. First he had to wrestle off for the position with freshman Craig Gillison, who had manned that spot in the lineup before Moos moved up. McFarland uses wrestle-offs to ensure that his wrestlers earn their starting roles and to keep them hungry and motivated. Moos won the wrestle off but will have to continue to earn his position in future challenges.
Once the spot was his, the transition to 133 pounds wasn’t completely smooth. Moos lost his first match 10-8 to then-No. 20 Jason Borelli of Central Michigan.
“The kids (at 133) are a little bigger,” Moos said. “I still have to get adjusted. It’s different. I was a big 125 and now I’m a small 133. I’ve been trying to concentrate on adding some muscle in the weight room.”
But after stringing together four consecutive victories, Moos is ranked now No. 11 by Amateur Wrestling News and No. 12 by Intermat.
Despite Moos’s recent success, he and McFarland know there is room for improvement.
“I could tell that against Borrelli he hit the wall,” McFarland said. “Even against Penn State, he got really tired in that match. I don’t think his conditioning is where it needs to be yet. Now that he’s moved up a weight class, he can concentrate more on getting himself in great shape. If he’s in great shape, he’s going to be really hard to beat.”
Moos is still in the middle of a tough transition, one that should improve the strength of the entire Michigan lineup, despite the temporary problems it has caused.
One of those problems is the newly created vacancy at 125 pounds.
“Everybody knows we’ve been forfeiting at (the 125-pound weight class),” McFarland said. “(Michigan sophomore) Jim Shutich is going to be ready to wrestle. We will not be able to use him this week, but we will be able to use him for the Wisconsin-Minnesota weekend (next week). It would be nice to have him back in our lineup. Obviously, when you move someone up midseason, it creates some problems.”
McFarland will not be able to use Shutich until next weekend due to NCAA rules. Shutich competed at 133 pounds over the holiday break and must take a mandatory four weeks to drop back down to 125 pounds safely.
For Moos to continue improving, McFarland believes Moos has one last obstacle to clear.
“I think he needs to work on being in great shape,” McFarland said. “If Mark can wrestle hard and go for seven minutes, if he can grind it out, he’s going to be hard to beat. But he needs to continue to work on his conditioning. I don’t think his conditioning is where it needs to be —-— where I would like to see it right now. He needs to continue to push himself.”