As redshirt sophomore Cameron Amine had his hand raised following a 6-1 decision victory, it felt like Crisler Center let out a collective sigh of relief.
Amine’s assertive win stopped the bleeding for No. 4 Michigan (7-1 overall, 3-1 Big Ten), as it had lost three bouts in a row going into the intermission. The Wolverines went on to win four of the next five bouts and defeat No. 16 Minnesota (3-4, 2-3).
“That second set of five is a great group of guys,” Michigan Coach Sean Bormet said. “Five All-Americans, five leaders, five guys that have a great work ethic and want to compete hard. Those were dominant wins.”
No. 1 graduate student Nick Suriano started the meet off with a dominant victory over No. 9 Patrick McKee, earning a 14-6 major decision after a signature high-energy performance.
Redshirt freshman Dylan Ragusin followed that up with a 6-5 win at 133 pounds to put the Wolverines up 7-0.
Then things got messy.
Graduate student Stevan Micic suffered a 5-2 upset at 141 pounds despite nearly pinning No. 15 Jake Bergeland in the third period. Then at 149 pounds, Michigan redshirt sophomore Pat Nolan was out-muscled by No. 25 Michael Blockhus. Nolan was able to avoid getting pinned but ended up losing 14-5 in a major decision, and Blockhus tied the meet up at 7-7.
The Wolverines showed some life in the last match before the intermission, which featured No. 14 redshirt junior Will Lewan versus No. 4 Brayton Lee. Lewan brought some energy back to the Michigan bench with an athletic takedown to close the first period but was unable to assert any control in the final two, losing 5-4.
The loss put the Wolverines down 10-7 going into the break. When they re-emerged from the locker room, there was a clear focus on re-asserting control.
“We looked to dominate the match,” graduate student Myles Amine said. “That’s the big thing we tried to do. Our flaw against Penn State (on Jan. 10) was that we really let them control the center and control ties. Your winning percentage goes way up when you can do those two things.”
Those coaching points were evident in the next string of matches. The Wolverines took three decisions, as well as one major decision from Amine in a dominant technical performance over Minnesota’s Sam Skillings.
Another standout performance came from graduate student Logan Massa at 174 pounds. Massa brought new life to the crowd from the start of the first period, dragging Minnesota junior Bailee O’Reilly away from the boundary multiple times to maintain his dominant position. Massa had to overcome a deficit in the second and eventually earned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the third period, but he overcame this to win 7-4.
“I think [we] did a great job, after giving up initial points, of continuing to wrestle seven minutes and flip the switch,” Amine said. “That’s kind of what we’re looking for and that’s what we can build off of as a team.”
That electric stretch ensured a Michigan victory, despite a major decision loss in the final match of the night at heavyweight. No. 4 junior Mason Parris was unable to overcome No. 1 Gable Steveson, an Olympic gold-medal holder, and lost 18-8.
In spite of that loss — as well as the three earlier losses — the story of the night was the Wolverines’ ability to dominate late. Bormet acknowledged that dominance after the meet:
“Even those matches where we didn’t get bonus points, they were dominant victories, and that’s what we want. We want to destroy the guy in front of us physically and mentally.”