COLUMBUS —When Michigan and Ohio State wrestle, it’s almost always a tight affair.
Last year’s dual between the two teams was decided by a dramatic overtime takedown that gave the Wolverines a narrow one-point victory. Three years ago it was then-freshman heavyweight Mason Parris whose high-stakes decision victory propelled his team’s come-from-behind two-point win.
Friday night’s dual was different.
It also ended with fireworks from Parris in the form of a first period pin. But this time, less than half of the once raucous Buckeyes’ crowd had stuck around to watch it, and the final score was 29-8.
No. 3 Michigan (5-0 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) didn’t just beat No. 7 Ohio State (5-1, 1-1), it dominated them to the tune of a 21 point difference, winning eight of ten bouts with three victories earning the team bonus points.
Ohio State was billed as the Wolverines’ first real test of the season, and it’s one they passed with flying colors. There was never a moment in the night where the Buckeyes looked as if they were even threatening to hand Michigan its first loss.
The night’s action started at 125 lbs., where No. 1 ranked former NCAA champion Nick Suriano earned an 11-3 major-decision victory over No. 18 Malik Heinselman that put the Wolverines up 4-0. The graduate student wrestled at a furious pace the entire bout, and it paid off. He scored takedown after takedown on his opponent. And as Heinselman tired late in the bout, he surrendered a stalling point that put Suriano up by eight, and secured bonus points.
“We started off with a lot of momentum coming off at 125 with Nick Suriano,” graduate student Myles Amine said. “His energy, his intensity, was inspiring and set the tone for the rest of the match.”
At 133 lbs., redshirt freshman Dylan Ragusin bounced back from his loss at Arizona State with a strong showing in his match with Ohio State’s Will Betancourt. Ragusin sacrificed the usual lowerweight agility antics to wrestle a controlled, pensive style. This worked for Ragusin as he won 14-5, earning a major-decision victory and putting Michigan up 8-0.
Graduate student Stevan Micic also bounced back from a loss, this time able to finish his leg attacks to earn a 11-7 victory over No. 21 Dylan D’Emilio at 141 lbs., making the score 11-0 Wolverines.
But two Michigan losses sandwiching a Will Lewan victory left the score 14-8, putting Ohio State a pin away from tying the dual when 174 lb. graduate student Logan Massa took the mat.
In his second dual match of the season, No. 6 Massa faced No. 7 Ethan Smith in what was expected to be the biggest tossup of the night. Two periods in, Massa was down 4-2, but a dominant third period in which Massa tripped, took down and tilted Smith led him to a 10-4 decision victory. As Massa’s hand was raised, boos rained down from the Buckeyes’ crowd, which Massa clearly reveled in, skipping around the mat with his arms raised before running to the locker room.
Any energy Ohio State had built evaporated and the score was 17-8.
“He overwhelmed the guy in the third period,” Michigan coach Sean Bormet said. “…You could see it in his eyes he was determined, he stayed consistent and was persistent about getting to the leg attacks. Psychologically it was very demoralizing for the opponent and the rest of that lineup. They felt like they were getting a little momentum after 165.”
If Massa’s victory demoralized the Buckeyes, 184 lb. Amine’s overtime win crushed them.
The second-ranked Amine wrestled an incredibly tight, low scoring match against No. 7 ranked Kaleb Romero. Amine and Romero found themselves in scramble after scramble in which each fended off numerous takedowns. In overtime, the intensity was turned to a new level, as each wrestler rolled or spun through what looked to be certain takedowns to keep the match alive.
A minute and a half into the sudden victory period, Amine initiated a third scramble, narrowly avoided Romero’s counter, and slipped through his legs to earn the winning takedown. Romero pounded the mat in frustration and fans streamed to exits, at 20-8, the result was decided.
“Coming into this match tonight I knew Myles wasn’t at his best,” Bormet said. “But he is just a fearless competitor. I know he wanted to have a more dominant victory, but there’s something to be said about being able to win that kind of match when you need to in this kind of environment, and finding a way to get your hand raised. And there aren’t many out there that can do it better than Myles Amine.”
197 lb. graduate student Pat Brucki’s 5-2 win over Gavin Hoffman and Mason Parris’s pin added an exclamation point to the night for the Wolverines. But unlike previous years, their heroics were unnecessary.
As the Wolverines look forward to next Friday’s dual against No. 1 Penn. State they’ll need another dominant performance. Friday’s victory is a strong place to build from.
As Parris recognized:
“We’re hoping to build on this win, build on this confidence and keep going the rest of the year.”