The battered Big Ten sign at the scorers’ table was a constant reminder.
The physicality of this weekend’s conference meets started after Michigan fifth-year senior Tyrel Todd threw Northwestern’s John Schoen into the table Saturday. And the dented sign foreshadowed Michigan’s grueling meet against Indiana the next day.
The 18th-ranked Wolverines salvaged a 17-17 tie against Northwestern in a hard-hitting contest Saturday before taking out Indiana 20-18 on Sunday afternoon.
The Wolverines were down by six points or more heading into the last five individual matches in both meets.
Redshirt sophomore Eddie Phillips (Heavyweight) pulled off a 3-2 win in double overtime in the final match to tie Northwestern.
“We wrestled more confident and with more intensity than I have seen all year,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. “It’s a good time to get into the Big Ten season.”
Down six points against Indiana, redshirt sophomore Aaron Hynes (157 pounds) sparked the comeback with a victory over 12th-ranked Kurt Kinsler. Recovering from a shoulder injury, it was Hynes’ first-ever win over a ranked opponent, but he almost gave it away.
After going up 5-0 halfway through the match, he gave up consecutive takedowns and the contest was eventually tied 6-6 when time expired in the final period. But because of his one-minute riding-time advantage, he earned the extra point and victory.
“I used to have that problem where I would let the momentum of the (meet) carry into mine,” Hynes said. “But then I was just like, ‘Hey it has nothing to do with me, I’m just gonna go out there and wrestle.’ ”
After losing to Northwestern senior Jake Herbert on Friday, the No. 1 wrestler in the country at his weight, redshirt sophomore Anthony Biondo (184 pounds) broke out of his four-match losing streak and beat Indiana redshirt sophomore Nick Avery 10-0. During the match, Avery gave the crowd a reason to be upset. He repeatedly backed up and failed to make moves, and the fans at Cliff Keen Arena chanted “staaaaaalling, staaaaaalling” for much of the match.
The win gave Michigan a lead it would never relinquish.
“I could’ve cut him and went back up on my feet,” Biondo said. “It wouldn’t have really made a difference, I would have just taken him down a bunch of times. I wanted to pin, him so it is a little frustrating, but you just have to keep grinding in the match and try to break him.”
With underclassmen occupying seven of the 10 starting spots, the encouraging opening weekend is a confidence boost for the young Wolverines. They will have to continue growing up process as Michigan will be on the road next weekend in dual meets against Minnesota and Michigan State.