Control the controllables.
In a display of early-season dominance, the No. 6 Michigan wrestling team did just that on Sunday.
In doing so, the Wolverines (2-0 overall) overpowered Rider (1-2) in a 27-14 triumph. Following a resounding victory in their dual opener against Columbia, they concluded their first dual slate weekend of the 2023-24 season with a sweep.
Leading the charge against the Broncs was Michigan’s 141 pound freshman Sergio Lemley, who showcased his mettle by orchestrating an upset against No. 30 McKenzie Bell in a technical fall victory that propelled the Wolverines to an early 5-0 lead. The freshman’s standout performance was punctuated by a series of three-point takedowns, amassing a commanding 19-4 advantage over Bell.
As a freshman making his first waves on the collegiate wrestling scene, Lemley’s performance and composure not only underscores his individual talent but also reveals a swift adjustment, indicitive of the Michigan wrestling culture.
“I was just excited to compete and just control the controllables like my weight, my attitude, my effort, and everything else would take care of itself,” Lemley said. “That’s what the culture is like here. Just control the controllables. That was everyone’s goal.”
The remaining nine Wolverine competitors in Sunday’s dual also accomplished that goal, emerging victorious in eight out of 10 bouts against Rider.
Michigan dropped its first loss of the day at 149 pounds. Freshman Dylan Glicher was close to becoming the second first-year to upset a ranked opponent, but Rider’s No. 16 Quinn Kinner took the upper hand. In a closely contested, tie-up heavy match, Kinner prevailed, scoring a three-point takedown and two one-point escapes for the Broncs to overpower Glichers’ singular one-point escape.
Despite the defeat, Glicher’s tight battle reflected the same grit emphasized by fellow freshman Lemley and prioritized by Michigan coach Sean Bormet.
“Our staff really wanted to see them compete with the right mindset,” Bormet said. “You know, starting matches fast and being aggressive and having a high attack rate executed from the bottom position the right way. Put in your best effort. And that was really the emphasis. It’s all controllable stuff.”
Bormet reinforced such emphasis on effort and attitude following the tight Glicher-Kinner battle, and with those skills came six straight Wolverine wins.
At 157 pounds, No. 6 graduate Will Lewan beat out Rider’s Colton Washleski in a 7-3 victory by decision. No. 3 redshirt senior Cameron Amine followed with a dominating 15-3 tech fall victory against Kinner at 165 pounds, completing five takedowns to give Michigan a 13-3 lead in the dual.
But the Wolverines didn’t stop there.
The 174 pound division showcased No. 4 graduate Shane Griffith in contest with the Broncs’ Michael Wilson; their close competition resulted in a 5-3 win by decision for Griffith. The Wolverines marked their fourth consecutive win in the 184 pound bout when Michigan’s redshirt junior Jaden Bullock squared off against Rider’s Isaac Dean, concluding in a decisive 11-0 shutout win for Bullock.
Michigan rounded out its win streak with a tight 5-0 decision by 197 pound graduate Bobby Stiggow and a commanding major decision which resulted in a 12-1 victory for No. 3 graduate heavyweight Lucas Davison, putting the Wolverines ahead 27-3 entering the final two bouts.
In a win by technical fall during the 125 pound weight class, Rider’s Tyler Klinsky overpowered redshirt sophomore Christian Tanefeu 26-9, giving the Broncs 11 additional points.
It proved to be too little too late.
Sunday’s dual ended in a forfeit at 133 pounds to result in a 27-14 victory for Michigan.
An undefeated weekend in the opening dual slate was linked to the “control the controllables” mindset woven into the Wolverines’ culture.
“We were super pleased,” Bormet said. “… Our team competed with a great mindset — the mindset we continue to talk about and have worked on this past summer and into the fall — in this opening weekend.”
As the wrestling season unfolds, Michigan’s early success not only positions it as a force to be reckoned with but also establishes a foundation to continue growth and build excellence. Even with the impressive start, the focus remains on ongoing improvement. And as the Wolverines maintain a balance between intensity and enjoyment, they remain committed to the journey ahead, with a collective eye on individual and team goals.
“The mental and technique sides are really important, just really pushing ourselves 100% of the time,” Lemley said. “If we can do those two things, I think I should go pretty far, and the team should go pretty far.”
With a foundation built on early season triumphs, Lemley and Michigan eagerly anticipate the challenges and successes that lie ahead on their path to March’s podium.
As they continue to fine-tune their techniques and build on their strengths, the Wolverines remain especially focused on one thing, which they exemplified in their win over Rider:
Controlling the controllables.