YPSILANTI — It was a day for the fresh faces of the
Michigan wrestling team to shine. Four freshmen placed in the top
five in their respective weight classes Saturday at the Eastern
Michigan open. No team scores were recorded, and no returning
starters wrestled for the Wolverines in their season-opening
event.

Michigan was led by redshirt freshman Eric Tannenbaum, who
defeated John Cox of the United States Naval Academy for the
149-pound weight class championship. Tannenbaum was the lone
Wolverine to finish in first place.

Tannenbaum had little trouble throughout the tournament, as he
defeated all of his opponents by pinfall or 4-point major
decision.

“I’ve been working real hard because we have the
best practices in the country,” he said. “Going hard
against real tough guys in practice makes (matches) much
easier.”

Tannnenbaum — who is ordinarily better on his feet in the
neutral position — also wrestled well from the top position.
In the championship match, he was able to turn Cox to his back for
three near-fall points. This maneuver increased Tannenbaum’s
lead and put the match out of reach for Cox.

“(Tannenbaum) is outstanding on his feet,” Michigan
coach Joe McFarland said. “He likes to dominate from the
neutral position, but he’s made some mat improvements. I saw
him in some matches where he was doing a good job working some guys
(from the top position).”

True freshmen Craig Gilleson and Steve Luke also had strong
showings in their collegiate debuts by recording second-place
finishes in the 133- and 165-pound weight classes,
respectively.

“(Gilleson and Luke) are great competitors,”
McFarland said. “They work hard, they wrestle hard and they
are tough — those guys have done a great job so
far.”

On his way to the championship match, Gilleson was involved in
some close matches, but he was able to grind out victories in the
preliminary rounds. His luck ran out in the finals when he lost by
minor decision to Shawn Bunch of Edinboro College.

“(Bunch) was really good and he was quicker than I thought
he would be,” Gilleson said. “I wrestled my hardest,
but I found some things I need to improve. I need to work out with
someone a little quicker than me.”

Luke, on the other hand, was dominant until the semi-final round
of the tournament. He was able to defeat every opponent by major
decision or pinfall. In the semi-final match, he narrowly defeated
Jim Bertlis of Bloomberg College.

In the finals, Luke was tied with Nate Yetzer of Edinboro with
30 seconds remaining in the match. During a scramble, Yetzer was
able to get a two-point takedown on Luke, which turned out to be
the deciding points.

“In college, (the wrestlers) never get tired, so I need to
work on my stamina a little more,” Luke said. “I will
get that takedown next time.”

Casey White rounded out the freshman place winners with a solid
fifth place finish in the 197-pound weight class.

“All of our young kids did a really good job,”
McFarland said. “This was a really good tournament for
(them).”

The Michigan wrestling team has its Maize and Blue Intrasquad
next Sunday at noon, in which wrestle offs will take place for most
starting positions. The following week, the Wolverines travel to
Bethlehem, Penn., to face perennial wrestling power Lehigh.

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