EAST LANSING It was an old-school brawl, wrestled on a wooden platform, in an old-school gym between two traditional rivals. A classic difference-maker decided the outcome momentum. After losing to No. 1 Minnesota 32-6 on Friday, the No. 6 Michigan wrestling team defeated No. 8 Michigan State 20-12 in East Lansing on Sunday.
“In a dual meet in an individual sport, you wouldn”t expect momentum to play such a role,” Michigan State coach Tom Minkel. “You get on a roll and teams start getting up. It is contagious.”
In a match with numerous momentum shifts, the Wolverines stepped up and seized the energy at the end.
“We lost some close matches, but I think we responded well,” coach Joe McFarland said.
While both sides produced big wins in crucial situations, in the third-to-last match of the evening, No. 7 Charles Martelli”s 7-4 victory at 165 pounds grabbed the momentum once and for all and put the Wolverines in excellent shape. The momentum see-sawed numerous times after No. 16 Joe DeGain”s victory over No. 14 Nick Fekete to start off the dual.
“Whoever comes out first wants to get the ball rolling,” Degain said. “That was my responsibility tonight, to set the fire.”
Riding the high of Degain”s win, fourth-ranked heavyweight Matt Brink kept the team going on a high note with an overtime victory over Matt Lamb.
“After the flip, if I didn”t take the guy down, he would have had an advantage,” Brink said. “You can”t take that in to the tiebreaker. I wanted to take care of it before that time came around.”
No. 4 Chris Williams started a Michigan State run with a huge overtime triumph against Michigan”s sixth-ranked A.J. Grant. No. 5 Pat McNamara and No. 15 Mike Castillo rode the Spartans” high as they defeated Foley Dowd and No. 19 Clark Forward respectively. The momentum tides were turned and Michigan State was pulling ahead.
Teammates fed off of each win or loss, swaying the direction of the match. When the match looked to be up in the air, DeGain was not worried. He assumed the Wolverines would grab the momentum and the match at the end.
“I have confidence in our whole team,” he said. “If some guys drop a match, somebody will be there to fill in. Everyone who won stepped it up.”
Momentum does not just apply within duals, but it is carried from meet to meet. Sunday”s win over the Spartans will give the Wolverines reason to be confident going into this weekend”s grudge match with fabled Iowa.
All-Star Classic: A.J. Grant and Otto Olson competed yesterday at the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic at Franklin and Marshall College”s Mayser Gym in Lancaster, Pa.
Both lost their matches as No. 6 Grant lost to No. 2 Jody Strittmater of Iowa 10-3 and No. 2 Olson fell 6-1 to No. 1 Josh Koscheck of Edinboro. Strittmater also pinned Grant at the national duals last weekend and they will wrestle again in Ann Arbor on Friday.