With fifteen seconds left in the 184 lb Big Ten final, the clock was running out on the dreams of both graduate student Myles Amine and the Michigan wrestling team.
After a first day that saw five wrestlers qualify for the championship bout in their respective weight classes and a second day that saw another four qualify for the third place bout, the Wolverines were doing the unthinkable — they were on their way to winning the Big Ten.
Then came the backslide. With three-straight championship round losses, Penn State was right on Michigan’s heels, preparing to leapfrog it and claim the conference crown.
At 184 lbs, the two teams collided in a first place bout for the last time as last year’s national champion and current No. 1 Aaron Brooks looked to secure the title for the Nittany Lions.
It all came down to Amine.
And with little time left, down 3-2, he came roaring to life.
Amine fired off a late shot and caught Brooks flat footed, taking him to the mat and scoring two points. But Brooks responded quickly, bouncing right back up for an escape with six seconds to go. Just like that, the bout headed to overtime.
Just 13 seconds into the sudden victory period, Amine lunged for Brooks’ ankle, bent his knee, and took him to the mat. With that, he became Michigan’s second champion of the night and all but guaranteed its first Big Ten title since 1973.
“I could see Myles, I could see his body language and I could see his eyes when sudden victory hit,” Michigan coach Sean Bormet said. “And I felt really confident that mentally he was in a good place, and he was locked in the moment.”
Amine’s performance is best described with one word: gutsy. In thirteen-and-a-half minutes of wrestling Brooks up to this point in the season, Amine had scored no takedowns. But with everything on the line for his team, he showed up to the moment. He was dominant when it counted, and because of it, the Wolverines are Big Ten champions.
Michigan didn’t just break expectations in this tournament — it shattered them. Every single wrestler placed either above or equal to their tournament seeding, and nine wrestlers placed fourth or better.
At 125 lbs, graduate student Nick Suriano dominated the competition en route to a second Big Ten title. No other wrestler was able to compete with him. Even in the championship, he steamrolled Wisconsin’s Eric Barnett in a 12-4 major decision victory.
“Nick Suriano’s just a stud,” Amine said. “His mentality, his dedication to the sport, and his lifestyle is unmatched. And when I say unmatched, I mean nobody is as bought in as Nick Suriano when it comes to the sport of wrestling. It shows when he goes out there.”
At 133 and 141 lbs, redshirt freshman Dylan Ragusin and graduate student Stevan Micic battled back from losses to earn points for their team, taking third and fourth, respectively. Ragusin won an overtime thriller against Illinois’ Lucas Byrd, continuing his midseason peak. Micic, who four years ago stood atop the podium at this tournament, suffered a slight regression — he dropped his first bout, won the next three, and then dropped in the third place matchup.
Neither wrestler was flashy, but they did exactly what Michigan needed — they put points on the board the entire weekend.
“Every point and every half point counted in the results,” Bormet said. “All 10 of our guys contributed to scoring points and finding ways to win tough matches, and we needed every one of those points to win it.”
At 157 and 165 lbs, redshirt junior Will Lewan and redshirt sophomore Cam Amine pulled off upset overtime thrillers in the semifinals to propel themselves to the championship round. Neither wrestler would win, but their performances cannot be discounted. Their performances are the type of depth that won Michigan this championship.
In the championship bouts, Michigan won just two of five matches, whereas Penn State won four of five. Ultimately, however, it didn’t matter. The Wolverines were the better overall team by a mere 1.5 points.
Every single wrestler contributed. Logan Massa took second, Pat Brucki third and Mason Parris fourth.
So while Amine’s victory is the flashy moment that locked the victory, the tournament was won cumulatively.
“My match was the front and center, and I kind of got an opportunity to steal the show,” Amine said. “But I know how important those battleback points were… Up and down the weight classes, with every single point that every guy scored, it was a 10-guy effort to win the Big Ten title.”
Michigan has lots of preparation to do before the NCAA Championship in Detroit in two weeks. But to snap a 49-year Big Ten title drought in the program’s centennial season is poetic, and this isn’t lost on the wrestlers.
“This victory means the world,” Amine said. “It’s a little bit bittersweet knowing our main goal is still ahead of us. But I’ve learned over my long career at Michigan that it’s important to smell the roses. Moments like this can propel you to your next goal, if you treat it the right way.”