EAST LANSING — The Michigan wrestling team competed in the non-scoring Michigan State Open on Saturday, marking the first meet since Mason Parris’ graduation last year.
But the loss of the NCAA champion didn’t impact the Wolverines as they ended the tournament with six podium finishes, including a first-place finish from redshirt junior 133-pounder Dylan Ragusin. Twenty-one other wrestlers participated in the tournament across two divisions: open and freshman/sophomore. With a lot to prove, they had plenty of motivation.
Ragusin went 4-0 after two consecutive tech falls over Findlay’s Gavin Ritter and Albion’s Benyamin Kamli, a major decision against Northern Illinois’ Lucian Brink and a decision in the first-place match against Ohio State’s Andre Gonzales. Ragusin competed unattached as he is starting the season in redshirt.
The 133-pounder outscored his first three opponents 39-9 before a tiebreaker in the final round, which Ragusin won 7-6 because of an escape.
“It’s always a tough tournament every year,” Ragusin said. “It’s your first time away, and the first time competing for me in a little bit. But I am just trying to get my feet under me again and win.”
Though there was a freshman/sophomore division, freshmen 141-pounder Sergio Lemley and 165-pounder Beau Mantanona both competed in the open division, usually meant for upperclassmen. Lemley placed third while Mantanona placed fifth.
“I didn’t even know what division I was going to be in,” Lemley said. “I just showed up, looked at the brackets and was ready to compete. I was good enough to compete with (anyone) in the country. I just gotta make little adjustments and maybe then I can change my semi-final match to end up winning.”
Redshirt junior 184-pounder Jaden Bullock also made the final round, losing to Princeton’s Kole Mulhauser in a 9-3 decision. The open was Bullock’s first match back after an injury forced him to miss most of last season.
Two other wrestlers placed third in addition to Lemley: redshirt sophomore 157-pounder Zack Mattin and redshirt junior 174-pounder Joseph Walker. Like Bullock, they both also missed much of the previous season due to injuries, which gave them the motivation to come out with a strong start in East Lansing.
Mattin pinned Grant Hansen of the Huskies in the first round before a major decision loss to Central Michigan’s Mason Shrader in the semifinals. He placed third after winning a decision against Wisconsin’s Cody Goebel. Meanwhile, Walker won third place in a decision against Northern Illinois’ Hayden Pummel after pinning Michigan State’s DJ Shannon in the quarterfinals.
“The guys wrestled hard,” Michigan coach Sean Bormet said. “We had some matches where we won matches that we could have won by a larger margin. Even though they were good matches to get your hand raised, I don’t think anybody wrestled their absolute best match every match of the tournament.”
As the Wolverines prepare for their upcoming meets against Columbia and Rider, the Michigan State Open serves as a good opportunity for wrestlers to have a feel of where they are at and what they need to improve on. And with many wrestlers coming out of season-ending injuries and freshmen looking to dominate their first seasons, Michigan is hungry to continue its success from last year.