EAST LANSING — The Michigan wrestling team sent just a few wrestlers to the Michigan State Open, but it was the young Wolverine heavyweights who experienced all the success.
“None of our guys that are our returning starters competed today,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. “It was a day to try to get our young guys some matches and some experience.”
Freshman Ben Apland, who went 0-2 at the Eastern Michigan Open last Saturday, moved down to the freshman and sophomore division this weekend. He dominated his opponents, earning a trip to the finals without a match closer than seven points and with a pin of Manchester College’s Ben Long in the second round.
“I can see him doing some great things in the future,” McFarland said.
Apland took second and his fellow heavyweight, redshirt sophomore Chad Bleske, placed third in the open heavyweight division.
After losing in the in the second round, Bleske scored a late reversal in his first match of the consolation round alive to keep his hopes of a high finish in the tournament alive. Bleske squeaked out a 3-2 victory in the third-place match with a nifty escape.
However, after Michigan had seven wrestlers place in the Eastern Michigan Open, the Michigan State Open was a disappointment for the freshmen, who came to Michigan as part of the No. 7 ranked recruiting class in the nation.
Freshman Bret Marsh (125 pounds) finished 3-2 in the freshman/sophomore division, while his classmate Hunter Collins (184 pounds) finished 2-2 in the open division after placing fourth last week in Ypsilanti.
“There are some things we have been working on that the guys have not been applying to their matches,” McFarland said. “One of the things is scoring that first takedown and putting yourself in position where you have the momentum and you’re winning the game. You get that first takedown it just puts everything on your side.”
The freshmen have a chance to redeem themselves at the Maize & Blue Intrasquad Sunday, where starting spots for the regular season will be determined. A number of underclassmen have a chance to earn the starting spot in the heavyweight division, including Apland and Bleske.