Friday, the No. 3 Michigan wrestling team (2-1 Big Ten, 11-3 overall) used several clutch performances to beat No. 13 Illinois (1-1, 8-2) 25-6 at Cliff Keen Arena.
Michigan wrestling coach Joe McFarland wanted his team to pressure its opponents more and wear them out with superior conditioning.
It seems like the Wolverines got the message. Although nearly every match was tight, Michigan wrestlers were always on the offensive.
“I was happy with the way we competed,” McFarland said. “We”ve been talking about these close matches.”
Seventh-ranked Foley Dowd, at 133 pounds, has had trouble recently in tight matches. This time against Illinois” Chad Hay,
Dowd broke open a tight match in the third period with a spectacular take-down, then held off Hay in the final moments for a hard-fought 6-5 win.
At 149 pounds, No. 7 Mike Kulczycki jumped on No. 19 Ryan Berger from the start, but the match remained close at 1-0. A strong double-leg takedown of Berger made it 3-0 for Kulcycki in the second period.
Leading 5-3 with under a minute left, Kulczycki held off Berger”s late charge, including a takedown attempt by Berger that occurred just a second after the final buzzer.
Second-ranked Andy Hrovat continued his three-match dual meet winning streak with a 8-5 win over No. 20 Jason Potter. Following last Monday”s upset win over Indiana”s No. 1 Viktor Sveda at the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic in New York, Hrovat was able to maintain a workman-like attitude against Potter.
“I didn”t think I let up (against Potter),” Hrovat said. “I wrestled seven hard minutes.”
Perhaps the best example of mentally tough wrestling came when No. 5 Ryan Bertin wrestled Illinois” No. 18 Griff Powell at 157 pounds.
Aware of Bertin”s obvious strength advantage, Powell wrestled the entire match simply trying to block Bertin”s shots. With his defensive style, Powell was successful at taking the match into the third period tied at one.
But in the final period, Bertin”s pressure began to pay off. A critical stalling call on Powell with a minute left gave Bertin a 2-1 advantage. With Powell forced to score late, Bertin exploited his opponent”s vulnerable position by scoring a takedown with 30 seconds left, finishing the match at 4-1.
“Ryan did a great job of keeping the pressure on the entire match,” McFarland said. “He wore (Powell) down and took advantage of it.”
Michigan”s sole major decision came when No.1 Otto Olson defeated Illinois” Brian Glynn in the 174 pound match. With seven takedowns, the senior defeated the overmatched Glynn 17-6.
This season, Olson leads the team with 12 major decisions, showing his propensity for winning matches in dominating fashion.
Olson also won at the NWCA All-Star classic, beating No. 3 Rick Springman from Pennsylvania,13-8.
The Wolverines” only losses came at the hands of Illinois” best wrestlers. Michigan heavyweight Matt Brink fell to No. 4 John Lockhart 3-2 because he was unable to recover from Lockhart”s first-period takedown.
At 165 pounds, Michigan”s No. 9 Charles Martelli was overpowered by No. 2 Matt Lackey, 10-3.
Having just one meet this weekend was beneficial both for the Wolverines” training schedule and for their win total.
“Coach (McFarland) had us really geared up to come in and wrestle Illinois,” said team captain Hrovat.