Wrestling season is fast approaching and it is quite evident in the Michigan wrestling room. The double leg takedowns move just a bit faster and smoother, while the head and arms are just a bit more aggressive. The Michigan wrestling team is slowly but surely returning to form.
Two weeks ago, the team went into the Eastern Michigan Open with lofty expectations and they came out with seven individual champions: A.J. Grant (125 pounds), Clark Forward (141), Mike Kulczycki (149), Ryan Bertin (157), Otto Olson (174), Andy Hrovat (184), and Matt Brink (heavyweight).
Michigan heads to East Lansing this weekend to compete in the Michigan State Open. Coach Joe McFarland looks to use this tournament as a stepping stone for the season.
“What I want to see at this tournament is our guys wrestling our style we wrestle aggressive,” said McFarland. “That”s our goal at this tournament to wrestle like Michigan.”
Preseason wrestling also brings with it the annual intrasquad wrestle-offs. Every wrestler knows the importance of a wrestle-off, which decides who will be wrestling, and who will be cheering from the bench. Wrestle-offs for Michigan make up an intense tournament that lasts more than two weeks. The final round of that tournament will happen sometime in the coming week.
The Wolverines return every starting wrestler from last year except 197-pounder Joe DeGain, but even the returning varsity wrestlers have to be at the top of their game in the this week”s finals. All wrestlers know that anyone can beat anyone else on any given day.
McFarland will use the Michigan State Open as another way to decide who will be in the starting lineup. All wrestlers will be wrestling unattached at the tournament, so Michigan could have two or three wrestlers in a weight class.
This means that a Michigan wrestler could be wrestling his teammate a teammate that may be his toughest competition for the varsity spot.
“There”s no better way to judge (who should start) than a live match in a tournament like this,” said McFarland.
Wrestlers from Big Ten schools like Purdue, Northwestern and Ohio State along with those from MAC schools like Central Michigan and Kent State will be competing at the Open.
“Competition at Michigan State this weekend will definitely be a step up from the Eastern Michigan Open,” said McFarland.