Unranked Willie Breyer produced the upset that begot the upset.
Having dropped consecutive matches at 174 and 184 pounds to No. 4 Nebraska, the No. 5 Michigan wrestling team was hanging on to a 15-12 lead when Breyer faced No. 13 B.J. Padden. Breyer stepped up and pinned Padden to increase Michigan’s lead to 21-12 and insure the win. The 25-12 upset in Dallas on Saturday catapulted the Wolverines to a second straight 3-0 mark at the Lone Star Duals. Breyer and five other Wolverines recorded perfect 3-0 individual records as well.
“It was huge,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. “(Breyer) really had a great day, and it just does wonders for his confidence. For the most part, we had wrestled well (as a team) and were in control of the match, but Willie came away with a big pin for us. That not only helped us out in that match, but also going into the other matches as well.”
No. 2 heavyweight Greg Wagner followed Breyer with an impressive 8-0 major decision over No. 18 Mitch Mandstedt to close out the match.
Drawing the highly-ranked Cornhuskers as their first opponent turned out to be a blessing for the Wolverines, as Michigan cruised to a 35-9 win over No. 23 Army and finished the weekend with a 32-10 drubbing of unranked Stanford. Michigan joined No. 10 Oklahoma as the only unbeaten teams in the 22-team field and now turns toward the Big Ten dual season.
The five Wolverines other than Breyer who also earned perfect 3-0 records at the meet were senior Mark Moos at 133 pounds, sophomore Josh Churella at 141 pounds, sophomore Eric Tannebaum at 149 pounds, senior Ryan Churella at 165 pounds and Wagner at heavyweight.
Josh Churella and Wagner maintained undefeated records for the season, as did senior captain Ryan Bertin, who went 2-0 at 157 pounds before sitting out his last match against Stanford. Before the match, Bertin expected to get a rematch of last year’s NCAA semifinal against Stanford’s No. 1 Matt Gentry, who bested Bertin 6-4 in overtime. But Gentry did not make the trip with the Cardinal, so McFarland used the opportunity to rest Bertin and give senior Charles Kalil a chance to get on the mat. Kalil lost a 10-0 major decision to Stanford’s Ray Blake.
The meet was a breakout for the younger Churella brother, Josh, who upset No. 6 Matt Murray of Nebraska to open the tournament. Churella, who was ranked No. 19, was able to score two takedowns and hold Murray to three escapes for a 4-3 win.
“It just shows you what type of competitor he is,” McFarland said. “It was his third match of the season and his first of the day, at 10 a.m., and (Murray) was second last year in the NCAAs. Josh came away with a good win, and it has to be a big confidence builder for him.”
Churella went on to earn another 4-3 decision over Army’s Patrick Simpson before winning an 11-3 major decision over Stanford’s Chris Hayworth. The sophomore improved his overall record this season to 5-0.
With three victories in the meet, Wagner now has a pristine 16-0 record for the season. After his opening 8-0 major decision, Wagner won on an injury default by Army’s Joe Forsman and registered another major decision, 12-4, over Stanford’s Shawn Ritzenthaler.
Michigan will host a dual meet against No. 16 Penn State at Crisler Arena on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“I think (our confidence level) is right where we need it,” McFarland said. “The guys are wrestling well, and we’re making those little adjustments from match to match and meet to meet.”