Up 6-4 at the NWCA All-Star Classic on Saturday, Michigan senior wrestler Brian Murphy was feeling good. He found himself in a finishing position, post-leg attack in the 157-pound matchup. But there was a moment of hesitation, and NC State’s Max Rohskopf capitalized, collaring Murphy.
He was stuck. A slight fall and third-period pin sealed the deal for the Wolfpack.
The loss, though, doesn’t paint the entire picture. The All-Star classic — held in Cleveland — kicks off the wrestling season each year and typicaly acts as a showcase for the No. 1 and No. 2 wrestlers nationally. Murphy was the 37th Wolverine wrestler to compete in the bout, and the fourth over the last two seasons.
“It’s quite an honor to be a part of it,” said associate head coach Sean Bormet. “It was a pretty spectacular event.”
Murphy’s performance in the match points toward a successful season and postseason for the co-captain this coming year.
And just six days outside of its first dual meet of the season, the rest of the Wolverines proved themselves ready as well.
Redshirt freshman Austin Assad (125 pounds), redshirt freshman Logan Massa (165), redshirt freshman Myles Amine (174) and senior Domenic Abounader (184) all earned individual titles at the Eastern Michigan Open on Friday in their respective weight classes. Eight of 14 Michigan wrestlers at the event placed.
Bormet attributes such success to the team’s overall offensive prowess.
“I was really pleased with the style and the approach of our matches our guys had,” Bormet said. “They were very aggressive. They were really focused on enjoying scoring and enjoying that kind of wrestling. It was probably the biggest highlight of our day, to watch our guys score points and really understand the right approach to the sport.”
In racking up the points, Massa was most prominent on the day. He outscored his opponents 72-20 in his 5-0 romp of the competition, and finished with three bonus wins and four first-period takedowns.
The Michigan coaching staff teaches such attacks and aggression in practice, and the athletes — especially the redshirt freshmen — are buying in.
“We’ve had a lot of individuals embrace that style,” Bormet said. “Right now, it’s spreading through our team. I think they really kind of understand and have a very healthy mindset about competing and about what’s exciting in the sport of wrestling, and I think they’re having fun with that.”
To continue the excitement and fun into the first dual matches of the season, the Wolverines must continue to score those points. To do so, they’re going back to the basics.
“This first weekend of competition gave us a tremendous amount of feedback that you just can’t get in the practice room,” Bormet said. “We saw a lot of positives and we saw some areas that we need to spend more time with, so we’re going to get back to some basics, and we’re going to continue to encourage our guys to embrace the offensive side of the sport.”