At the Maize and Blue Intrasquad tournament yesterday, the Wolverines grappled for starting spots and experience in a dual-meet format. But for Wolverine assistant coach Mike Kulczycki, it was also a chance to compete on a familiar mat.

Kulczycki, in his fifth season as an assistant coach for the eighth-ranked Wolverines, last wrestled in Cliff Keen Arena on his senior night in 2003.

“When I was walking out there I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ ” Kulczycki said. “Last time I competed out here it was my senior year, I had a bad knee and then I sprained my ankle. …I had to walk off of the mat. I thought I should give it one more hoorah.”

Kulcyzcki challenged fifth-year senior and two-time All-American Steve Luke, who was left with no opponent after a forfeit. The match was supposed to take place in the back room, but in an impromptu decision, they took the mat in front of the crowd in between the other bouts.

“To me it is important that (Luke) had a good, hard match before we open up next week on the road,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said.

Luke scored a quick two points with a double leg takedown, but the nimble coach scored two escapes and had the match tied up midway through. After a couple of questionable stalling calls facilitated by McFarland, who was yelling for the call even though he was coaching for Luke’s team, Kulczycki found himself down one point with seconds remaining. But Kulczycki couldn’t get the final-second takedown as the crowd cheered his efforts.

“Kulczycki is old, but he’s still tough,” Luke said. “He’s slick, I wrestle him every day in practice, and I mean I beat him every day in practice, it is pretty close though.”

But Kulczycki fired back.

“It’s not over yet,” Kulczycki said. “I’m still getting back into wrestling shape. I am trying to get my knee healthy and I’ll be ready to go.”

The intrasquad was more than just fun and games for the rest of the team, with every spot but Steve Luke’s 174-pound slot and Kellen Russell’s 141-pound spot up for grabs. For others, like Tyrel Todd (197 pounds) and Michael Watts (125 pounds), the wrestle-offs were a mere formality and a warmup for the start of Michigan’s dual-meet season this weekend, when they take on Lehigh and No. 24 Penn.

Six underclassmen won starting spots including true freshman Zac Stevens (133 pounds) and redshirt freshman Justin Zeerip (165 pounds).

Todd said it was a nice warmup and some good experience for the team.

“For a lot of our guys, it was the first time competing an hour after weigh-ins,” McFarland said. “Our guys have done a great job with that, so I wanted to see how sharp they were. I liked their aggressiveness.”

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