DETROIT- For months, the Michigan wrestling team has maintained that its goal is a team title, and for most of the season, those outside of the team dismissed the idea of it being a genuine possibility.
However, after the Wolverines shockingly won the Big Ten Tournament, dethroning Penn State, it started to seem less like a dream and more like a genuine possibility.
A victory would be poetic: the program’s first title in its hundredth year, won in its home state of Michigan.
But after an up and down showing in the fourth session of the NCAA Tournament Friday evening, it’s starting to look like the Wolverines may have to settle for runner up. While that would still be a huge achievement, it’s not the driving goal that they had strived for.
Session four began with another major performance from 125 lb graduate student Nick Suriano. Facing off against his former training partner from Arizona State Brandon Courtney, Suriano came out attacking right off the whistle and didn’t let up.
Suriano wore Courtney dorn with constant hand fighting. Courtney couldn’t establish an offense with Suriano constantly pressuring him and forcing him to defend, and it forced him into bad positions.
Midway through the first period Suriano snapped Courtney down and went behind to score. It was the match’s only takedown, but it wasn’t his only offense. He rode Courtney out in the second period to earn him a riding time point, and ended the match ahead 4-1, moving Suriano into the finals to face Princeton’s Pat Glory.
But after Suriano, the team started to falter. In a fashion similar to the way things turned out in the Big Ten finals, the middleweights stalled out.
133 lb redshirt freshman Dylan Ragusin and 141 lb graduate student Stevan Micic both dropped their bouts in the consolation bracket in devastatingly close fashion. Ragusin lost by being thrown late in the match, and Micic was bested by losing a scramble he initiated on a reshot.
The losses ended the tournament for the two lightweights, one match away from All-American status.
The tough losses would continue, as Michigan lost in the 157, 165, and 174 lb semi finals in back-to-back-to-back fashion.
157 lb redshirt junior Lewan and 165 lb redshirt sophomore Cam Amine both struggled to initiate offense, and it cost them. Lewan losing 3-2 and Amine dropping 4-0.
174 lb graduate student Logan Massa attempted to create offense, and twice reached a leg, but was unable to take down Virginia Tech’s Mekhi Lewis, the 2019 NCAA champion. Midway through the third period with the bout tied, Massa got to Lewis’s leg and seemed to be about to score. But Lewis rolled Massa to his back and stuck him.
However, Michigan ended the session with a roaring success. 184 lb graduate student Myles Amine finally punched his ticket to an NCAA final with an overtime victory over Cal Poly’s Bernie Truax.
Michigan in all likelihood will finish second after tomorrow’s sessions, and its driving goal will remain unfulfilled. But at the same time, the results of session four shouldn’t be seen as a poor performance.
The team’s goal that has been a century in the making will likely fall short, but session four put them in position to achieve a decade-long goal.
And it will come down to Suriano and Amine.
As Suriano said: “Tomorrow it’s time to get the job done and really dig deep, not even dig deep. Just enjoy and win and then do.”