The No. 11 Michigan men’s wrestling team dominated its first dual-match of the season, with a convincing 24-9 victory over Virginia at Cliff Keen Arena. The 15-point differential, though, was not the most impressive part of the night.

Seven out of the 10 Wolverines to wrestle on Friday were redshirt freshmen, four of whom came out on top in their respective weight classes. 

Michigan coach Joe McFarland believes that success traces back to the recruiting process.

“We’re looking for kids that are committed to it,” McFarland said. “We’re looking for kids that love to wrestle, love to train, and have that style — that hard-nosed, high-paced style. We seek those kind of kids, and we gravitate to those kind of kids.”

When the freshmen arrive on campus each year, they are ready to compete — not only during meets, but every day at practice. Redshirt sophomore Zac Hall explains that every day is a competition when you’re a part of the Michigan wrestling program. Whether it’s during team lifts or team runs, everyone wants to be on top.

“When you step into the program, you want to be ‘the guy’ immediately,” Hall said. “You want to carry things over. You were the man in high school, and you want to be the man in college. That’s what helps everyone be good. Everyone has that mindset that they are the man, and it just creates steel on steel.”

And that “steel on steel” mentality was clearly exhibited in the opening matches.

Redshirt freshman Steven Micic was the first to rack up the points against Virginia, claiming a major decision in a 14-4 romp against Cavalier William Mason — the second largest margin of victory of the night and the largest by a redshirt freshman.

Redshirt freshman Logan Massa took a 14-7 win, and Myles Amine tacked on a major decision in his 13-4 victory, as well.

Especially impressive was redshirt freshman Jackson Striggow. Up against a well-known competitor in Chance McClure, Striggow had to wrestle aggressive and smart in his 7-2 triumph.

“We want the guys that can flip the switch when they step onto the mat,” McFarland said. “You want those guys that are aggressive and are willing to stand in there, nose to nose with these guys, and wrestle that high pace that we’re looking for. That’s exciting wrestling.”

And headed into the rest of the season with such a hard-nosed mentality, that seems to be just what the Wolverines will have — some exciting wrestling.

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