As the No. 6 Michigan wrestling team opened its dual-meet season at Columbia on Friday, expectations soared for a team with plenty of new faces. And with these expectations, the Wolverines’ newcomers didn’t falter as they dominated the match.
Behind a strong performance from five incoming wrestlers, Michigan (1-0 overall) easily beat Columbia (0-1), 33-6.
“We got some really good veteran guys and some really special freshmen,” Michigan coach Sean Bormet said. “We had two true freshmen in the lineup too and both got wins.”
At 125 pounds, No. 8 graduate Michael DeAugustino made his Michigan debut against No. 21 Nick Babin. DeAugustino got the Wolverines off to a strong start, setting the tone for the meet. In a hard-fought bout, the decision was 8-1 in DeAugustino’s favor, giving the Wolverines an early 3-0 lead.
Michigan tried to build on that dominance in the 133 pound bout when No. 7 graduate Chris Cannon, who also made his Wolverines debut, went against No. 11 Angelo Rini. The bout was scoreless when, with two minutes in the first period, Cannon was forced to forfeit after injuring his head on a fall. The injury caused Michigan to relinquish its lead as the Lions surged ahead, 6-3.
With the Wolverines lacking command, as they lost their lead and were down a man, 141 pound freshman Sergio Lemley, who made his collegiate debut, had the chance to get things back on track as he faced No. 33 Kai Owen. After a scoreless first period, the Lions struck first with an escape. Lemley came back in the third period to win by a 3-1 decision, tying the score at six.
In the 149 pound bout, freshman Dylan Gilcher knew that he had to keep up the offensive momentum as No. 19 Richard Fedalen put on quite a fight. The bout went into sudden victory, but ultimately Gilcher got a 4-1 decision to give the Wolverines a 9-6 lead. In the win, Gilcher began his collegiate career on a strong note by showing poise and conviction.
Despite Michigan being headlined by new faces on Friday, the Wolverines dominated these early bouts.
The dominance went into overdrive in the 157 pound bout as No. 6 graduate Will Lewan took down Jaden Le multiple times within the first two periods to earn a technical fall expanding the advantage to 14-6.
Despite Lewan not being one of the newcomers, he has proven his dominance in past years and continued that in Sunday’s dual.
“I wanted to make a statement and show the fans that I have progressed and I’m able to score a lot of points now,” Lewan said. “My mentality out there is to dominate and I think the score reflected that. I was able to get to my offense, get to my attacks early.”
That dominant mentality was just as prevalent in the other new faces as No. 4 graduate Shane Griffith and No. 3 graduate Lucas Davison scored victories in their respective bouts. Griffith scored a 10-0 major decision in his bout against Garrett Bilgrav and Davison scored a 19-2 technical fall against Vincent Mueler. With the strong final two bouts, the dual ended with the Wolverines cruising to a 33-6 victory.
Newcomers helped tremendously in Michigan’s victory. Despite the offensive showcase put on by his team, however, Bormet still sees areas where they can improve.
“We got to continue to improve, winning ties (and) setting up playing attacks,” Bormet said.
Lewan also agreed that there’s room for improvements.
“I think it depends on weight, but overall, I think our ability to open up, let loose and trust in our offense and ability to score points,” Lewan said.
With so many new faces on the team, the Wolverines will have to be patient as each newcomer find their footing and settles into their new roles. Based on what they showed against Columbia, they’re well on their way to doing that.