The best was certainly saved for last on Sunday as No. 2 freshman Logan Massa faced Wisconsin’s No. 3 Isaac Jordan in a highly-anticipated, top-five rematch after Massa beat Jordan earlier this season.
Massa gave up the early takedown but rallied back to take a 3-2 lead heading into the second period. From there, the 165-pounder took over, delivering a quick takedown and ride-out in the second followed by a couple of late takedowns in the third to seal the victory, 9-7, in the final match of the afternoon.
“I knew I just needed to keep my offense going the whole match,” Massa said. “Beating somebody on their home ground is always fun.”
Added Michigan coach Joe McFarland: “I thought he did a nice job battling back after an early deficit in that match. That’s a great win against the number three ranked kid in the country.”
But Massa’s performance was not enough, as No. 14 Michigan (4-5 Big Ten, 8-6 overall) fell to No. 18 Wisconsin (5-5, 3-5), 19-18, in the last dual of the regular season for the Wolverines.
Michigan opened the scoring after redshirt freshman No. 8 Myles Amine recorded a 10-2 major decision win against Wisconsin’s Ryan Christensen in the 174-pound match. But the Wolverines’ lead was quickly relinquished as the Badgers strung together three wins in a row, knocking down redshirt junior Ernest Battaglia, redshirt freshman Jackson Striggow, and freshman Dan Perry in succession to go up 13-4.
In the 125-pound match, redshirt senior Conor Youtsey took on Wisconsin’s Johnny Jimenez. After a low-scoring affair, the match headed into overtime tied at 1-1. Still tied after one sudden-death period, Youtsey and Jimenez battled into a second overtime period. Just when it looked like the match was headed toward a third overtime period, Youtsey notched a single-leg takedown with just two seconds remaining in the period to win 3-1.
“I put in a lot of hard work this week, getting into my leg attacks,” Youtsey said. “Going into those overtime matches, I kinda got a little bit of a feeling from NCAAs last year when I was capitalizing on a lot of overtime wins."
“He did all the work in that match, he really did,” McFarland said. “It was good to see Conor stay tough.”
No. 7 Stevan Micic followed up Youtsey’s dramatic win with a dominant 20-5 technical fall victory over Eli Stickley in the 133-pound match. Micic’s win helped narrow Wisconsin’s overall lead to just 13-12.
It was a dual characterized by runs, as the Badgers followed up Michigan’s two match win streak with back to back wins of their own. Wisconsin’s Cole Martin took down Sal Profaci in the 141-pound match, and Andrew Crone edged out Malik Amine in the 149-pound match.
In the 157-pound bout, ninth-ranked senior Brian Murphy took on TJ Ruschell in the last regular season dual of his collegiate career. Murphy notched a four-point cradle in the second period, but Ruschell kept it close until Murphy was able to manage a reversal late in the third period to capture the victory.
“It was a hard-fought dual, no question about it,” McFarland said. “I thought really, for the most part, we wrestled tough.”
Though Michigan was unable to win its last dual of the season, the Wolverines have their work cut out for them heading into the Big Ten and NCAA Championships.
“You’ve got to constantly be on the attack in this sport, or somebody’s gonna take advantage of it,” McFarland said. “That’s something that we’ve got to continue to stress.”
Youtsey believes there is still much that can be improved upon in preparation for the postseason.
“There are a lot of adjustments that can be made in the next couple of weeks,” Youtsey said. “I think everybody can work in their specific areas to get their timing down right before Big Tens come around the corner.”
“You wanna be at your best (in the) postseason,” McFarland said. “… That’s when the best rise up a little bit and elevate their level of wrestling. Our guys need to do that.”
Massa, building on Youtsey’s sentiment, feels that the team is ready to step up to the challenge.
“We’ve got a young team, everybody’s working real hard, and we have high goals,” Massa said. “… We’re gonna give it everything we’ve got.”