A crucial test between two top-10 teams.
That’s what the Michigan wrestling team’s meet against Arizona State in Austin was billed as. But amid the Omicron surge, plans had to change. Instead of that key matchup between powerful squads, Monday’s duel turned into an exhibition.
The unofficial split between the third-ranked Wolverines (3-0 overall) and the sixth-ranked Sun Devils (3-1) won’t count for their records, but both teams earned reps against top NCAA competitors.
“Our guys are resilient, at this point they know (how COVID can change things),” Michigan coach Sean Bormet said. “Although they were a little disappointed, we got them focused right away on team practice and supporting the four guys that were wrestling.”
That determination would prove necessary. Michigan started the day slow as redshirt senior Jack Medley dropped the 125-pound bout to Arizona State’s Brandon Courtney.
Courtney was aggressive from the start of round one, quickly getting a strong double leg takedown to score the first two points of the night. Soon after, Medley tried to come back by escaping a pin while starting under.
But, in round two, Medley started to gain some momentum, getting another escape and not allowing Courtney additional points. However, he could not quite make up the gap, allowing Courtney an escape in the third round which would prove the winning point.
As the Sun Devils snatched momentum early, redshirt freshman Dylan Ragusin had a chance to slow them down by winning his 133-pound bout against Arizona State’s Michael McGee — a top 10 skirmish.
But McGee marched to a 10-0 win. On the heels of a tough loss, Michigan was left grasping for a way to recover.
That task fell into the able hands of graduate student Stevan Mićić – donning a Michigan singlet for the first time since 2019 after taking an Olympic redshirt last year. He faced the Sun Devils’ Julian Chlebove in the 141-pound bout. Once Mićić landed an early one-leg pick, Arizona State’s monopoly on control was busted.
After Chlebove escaped, Mićić took him back down to the mat. Another escape ended the round with Mićić up, 4-2. A run by Chlebove threatened a late comeback with another pair of escapes and a takedown, but Mićić held on for Michigan’s first win of the night. His methodical and focused attack ended the Wolverines’ early struggles before they got out of hand.
With the exhibition ending on his bout, graduate student Myles Amine eyed Arizona State’s Josh Nummer. His plan: utter domination. Amine got a single-leg pick off the whistle, which he swiftly turned into a trip. Soon after, he forced a near fall to go up 6-0. The first round ended with a score of 8-1, during which Amine accumulated a staggering 2:51 of riding time in a three-minute round.
While Nummer did manage a pair of escapes throughout the bout, Amine never let up his early domination. Amine ended the bout with a tech fall to win the final bout of the evening, 17-2. Considering how Michigan started the exhibition, that end was quite the high note.
And with the dominant duo of Mićić and Amine adding more convincing wins to their records, the Wolverines were able to use their ample experience to walk away even.
“We were just trying to salvage and create as many wrestling opportunities as possible for the guys.” Bormet said. “We wanted to get matches in. So we made the best out of the circumstances.”