Last weekend, the then-No. 5 Michigan wrestling team opened the eyes of the country by defeating then -No. 3 Iowa in Ann Arbor.
This weekend, it will try to keep them open and keep its three-match Big Ten winning streak alive.
The Wolverines will travel to Bloomington to take on No. 22 Indiana on Friday night before returning to Ann Arbor for a meeting with No. 9 Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.
Even with the impressive victory last weekend, the team remains focused on the possibility of securing the second-most single-season dual wins in Michigan wrestling history.
“There has been no let-up in their intensity,” coach Joe McFarland said. “So hopefully we can go down there and have a good performance.”
One of the catalysts for the team”s success this season has been 165-pound junior Charles Martelli.
Last year, Martelli struggled during the regular season, finishing 2-8 in dual meets while filling in at 174 pounds for the injured Otto Olson.
“When I first started at 174, I lost my first five matches,” Martelli said. “It was hard to get adjusted.”
But Martelli ended the season strong, finishing sixth in the Big Ten championships to qualify for the NCAA meet.
This season, back at a more natural 165 pounds, Martelli is second on the team in wins, with a 27-9 record, and is ranked No. 8 in the country. Along the way, he has wrestled the top two wrestlers in the country, giving him valuable experience as the season goes on.
“The season is going better than I expected, I think,” Martelli said. “But there are still a lot of things to work on in the room before Big Tens and nationals.”
While nine pounds may not seem like a lot, the style of wrestling in each weight class is different than in other classes. Martelli noted that while the 174-pounders last season were just as strong as he was, he now possesses a definite strength advantage at 165.
“He”s a big, strong kid,” McFarland said. “He has a lot of power, and he”s wrestling well right now. He”s hitting a lot of moves and he”s attacking well he”s aggressive.”
This weekend, Martelli may have the most difficult matchups of any Wolverine. Against Indiana, he faces No. 12 Kevin Stanley. Then against Ohio State, Martelli will try to avenge an early-season loss to John Clark.
Even with his personal success, Martelli still remains focused on the improvement of the team.
“We”re not lingering on that success,” he said. “We”re taking it to heart, and realizing it”s a great accomplishment, but it”s time to get back to the practice room and look forward to NCAAs.”