Prior to the start of the Michigan wrestling team’s final home meet against No.15 Wisconsin, the outgoing seniors were honored during senior night. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, they couldn’t use that as fuel for a victory, as the Badgers routed them 26-9.
“I was disappointed,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. “We had a couple of wins, but I just felt that Wisconsin for the most part outhustled us and out-shot us, which tells me that they were being more aggressive. That’s what we’re trying to get through to our guys.”
Starting off the meet for the Wolverines was redshirt junior Aaron Hynes who was defeated by Badger Andrew Howe. In the 165-pound weight class, Howe is the top-ranked wrestler in the NCAA.
Redshirt sophomore Justin Zeerip was one of the positives for the Wolverines, winning 5-2 in a dominating performance in the 174-pound weight class.
“I just want to keep improving every match and keep moving up the rankings,” Zeerip said. “We’re getting to the postseason now so it’s big for your seed at Big Ten’s and Nationals. I just want to keep improving every match from here on out.”
In the 184-pound weight class, redshirt freshman Hunter Collins was able to pull off an upset on Wisconsin’s Travis Rutt 4-3. Rutt is 16th-ranked in his respective weight class.
“It was a tough match and a tough kid,” Collins said. “He was strong and hard to move. The thing is you have to wrestle all seven minutes to win a match and there is a lot that I need to improve upon but I felt good during the match.”
In the heavyweight matchup of the afternoon, Wolverine Anthony Biondo was defeated by Badger Trevor Brandvold 4-1 in the 197-pound weight class. Both are ranked in the top-15 in the nation in their weight class.
Going into the intermission after the first five events, the Wolverines trailed by only four points. Afterward, freshman Sean Boyle lost in the final seconds of the 125-pound weight class.
“We had some bright spots today which are encouraging,” McFarland said. “I know we’re young but young or not, you can still be aggressive and still go out there and try to out-wrestle your opponents. To me it’s about the effort. If you don’t get your hand raised I can accept that as long as it’s a great effort. Some of my guys just didn’t have great efforts.”
Michigan has its final dual meet at Northwestern on Feb. 21. Then, the team will compete in the Big Ten Championships on March 6 and 7. Even though this was not its best performance, and the Wolverines have been in a rebuilding season all year, it still has hope for a successful postseason.
“To me these matches are important to win for the team but they’re just prelims before Big Tens and nationals,” Collins said. “I would rather lose to someone out here and beat them at nationals and Big Tens.”