Though many wrestlers competed in the Michigan wrestling team’s Maize and Blue intrasquad contest, the meet was most notable for who did not participate.
Star heavyweight Adam Coon was absent from competition, as he will redshirt this season due to an undisclosed injury. Michigan coach Joe McFarland was certainly aware of how Coon’s absence will affect the season.
“When you lose a guy like (Coon), who has been a big part of our success, it’s tough,” McFarland said. “But I think he is through the worst part of it and that this will be a good recovery year for him.”
But McFarland and the Wolverines did not have time to dwell on Coon’s injury. The remaining wrestlers still had to go out and perform.
Several Michigan wrestlers, newcomer and veteran alike, came through with impressive showings. Senior Brian Murphy of the Maize team and redshirt freshman Logan Massa of the Blue squad each notched two victories Sunday. No final score was given from the meet, as a 174-pound match and one more heavyweight bout — which will likely determine who will replace Coon — still need to be held.
“A lot of these matches were even more competitive than the ones in the (practice) room,” McFarland said. “There was more intensity in our matches. Guys were more aggressive and fighting through positions.”
Murphy’s bouts were two of the competitive matches McFarland was referring to.
The senior found himself in a 3-0 hole in his first match at 157 pounds, thanks to a tech violation, an escape and an unsportsmanlike penalty. But he rallied and defeated redshirt junior Jordan Amine, 4-3, thanks to a late reversal.
In his second round, Murphy did not have to come from behind as he scored on a single leg, an escape and 2:47 of riding time en route to a 4-1 win.
“(Murphy) is one of those guys who leads by example,” McFarland said. “His work ethic is unbelievable.”
The match at 141 pounds was another nail-biter.
Senior George Fisher took a 2-1 lead over redshirt freshman Sal Profaci in the second period and held that advantage along with 1:33 riding time late in the third period. It appeared Fisher had a victory in the bag.
But Profaci nabbed a last second takedown to counter Fisher’s riding time to send the match into overtime. Profaci won the extra period and the match with a single leg after 7:59. It was Profaci’s second win at 141 pounds following his victory over Fisher on Thursday.
Several other match ups were not as competitive, though.
Massa’s two matches fall into that category. He dominated his first 165-pound bout, claiming a 20-7 victory over redshirt junior Aaron Calderon. During his match, he accumulated eight takedowns, a two-point near-fall and 4:10 of riding time.
He was even more dominant in his second bout, as he cruised to a 23-7 triumph on the back of eight takedowns and six back points.
“I was just doing what I like to do and scored points,” Massa said. “I’m really excited (to face other teams). I’ve been waiting for that moment for a long time now. I’ve been coming to these meets since I was a little kid.”
Redshirt freshman Austin Assad followed in Massa’s footsteps as he raced out to an early 5-1 lead in the 125-pound match thanks to a takedown early in the second period. He continued to pile it on from there, finishing with a 13-2 win.
“We’re going to have lots of young guys in our lineup,” McFarland said. “Possibly six or seven redshirt freshmen.”
Senior Domenic Abounader also turned in a dominant performance, defeating redshirt junior Ernest Battagila, 14-3, while tallying five takedowns, a two-point near-fall and 3:35 of riding time along the way.
“I’m just trying to move a little more on my feet and get to my offense,” Abounader said.
As for the battle for who would replace Coon, both redshirt freshman Kostya Golobokov and fellow redshirt freshman Ty Wildmo both made cases for why they should start for the Wolverines this season.
Wildmo won the initial bout Thursday, but Golobokov outlasted Wildmo in Sunday’s match for a hard-fought, 3-1 victory. A third round will be held at a later date to break the tie and lend some more clarity as to who will start in the heavyweight class.
Whoever ultimately gets the job will have his first opportunities to showcase his skills in competition against other teams in the Eastern Michigan Open on Saturday.