Saturday, heavyweight fifth-year Mason Parris found himself in a familiar position. The NCAA All-American was crowned heavyweight champion. However, he was not satisfied.
The No. 5 Michigan wrestling team (3-0) traveled to Las Vegas this weekend to compete in their fifth event this year at the two-day Cliff Keen Invitational. The Wolverines finished in 4th place with 96.5 points among a field of 33 teams including two Big ten foes, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 16 Nebraska.
Michigan started off strong, winning nine out of the ten weight classes with only 165 lb redshirt freshman Zach Mattin falling 11-0 in a major decision against Cornell’s Julian Ramirez.
“We got off to a great start, our first round was exceptional.” Michigan coach Sean Bormet said. “It’s exactly what we were looking for. A fast start. You know, a lot of energy and intensity in our wrestling and a lot of bonus points.”
The first round was filled with firm victories from various Wolverines. 149 lb redshirt freshman Chance Lamer won a speedy match, pinning CSU Bakersfield’s Johnathon Viveros in just two minutes and fourteen seconds. Lamer was joined in pins by 174 lb redshirt sophomore Joseph Walker and heavyweight fifth-year Mason Parris. 133 lb redshirt sophomore Dylan Raguisn rounded out a strong first round with a technical fall over Cody Phelps from Western Wyoming.
Michigan’s early success did not last, however, with more and more wrestlers falling to the consolation bracket every round. The first day of the tournament ended with the elimination of Walker, Mattin and 141 lb redshirt junior Cole Mattin; 197 lb redshirt sophomore Brendin Yatooma withdrew from the tournament as well.
“In the second session on Friday, and then throughout Saturday, we didn’t wrestle with that same consistency,” Bormet said. “For each guy, we’re kind of evaluating where there was a breakdown in the consistency.”
The Wolverines’ setbacks continued into the second day of the tournament as 125 lb Kurt McHenry got injured 47 seconds into his consolation match against Nebraska’s Liam Cronin. McHenry withdrew, and was awarded 8th place with a record of 4-2.
Ragusin lost 5-1 in the semifinals to Michael McGee from Arizona State, before defeating Northern Iowa and Virginia Tech in consolation matches to finish 5th place in his weight class. Lamer and 184 lb grad Matt Finesilver both finished 7th place in their individual weight classes. Lamer lost 18-2 in a technical fall to Northern Iowa’s Colin Realbuto, and Finesilver won by forfeit over Trey Munoz from Oregon State.
157 lb redshirt senior Will Lewan made it to the semifinal round in which he lost 9-5 to Purdue. Lewan won his consolation match over South Dakota State to make it to the third place match which he lost due to an injury to NC State’s Ed Scott.
But even as his teammates struggled, Parris led Michigan to a higher finish. Parris went undefeated in the tournament, beating Lucas Davison from Northwestern to win the heavyweight title and improve to a season record of 8-0.
However, Parris is still not satisfied.
“I still haven’t wrestled my perfect tournament yet,” Parris said. “I’m still looking at a lot of stuff to improve on and I got a lot of good information from this tournament.”
Parris expressed similar sentiments when discussing the team’s fourth place finish.
“All of ’em think that they think they could have done better,” Parris said. “I think that’s gonna help them drive the rest of the year to work even harder and learn from it.”
The Wolverines now get a break between semesters, and the dissatisfaction they feel with this tournament will motivate them moving forward.