On Friday, the No. 4 Michigan wrestling team triumphed over No. 15 Nebraska 24-10 in the type of scrappy, hard-fought meet that one can expect from an elite Big Ten matchup.
The bout featured five ranked matchups, a thrilling overtime finish and last minute takedowns, all contributing to the ethos of a hungry Wolverine team.
The name of the game this week for Michigan was avoiding a post-big-win slump. In a shocking upset last week, the Wolverines took down long-time Big Ten powerhouse Iowa in a meet that was decided by the final matchup.
They prevailed against top competition, but not without some minor scrapes and bruises along the way. The Daily assessed the wrestling team and reflected over the major takeaways from the meet.
Logan Massa is back
Redshirt sophomore Logan Massa returned from leg injury in a big way. He defeated the 12th-ranked Isaiah White in an overtime classic.
After three periods, the score was tied, 1-1, with each wrestler getting away with only one escape. Then, the crowd rose to its feet to show support for the 165-pounder in the sudden-victory overtime round. White took a shot at Massa’s legs, a move he would instantly come to regret as Massa countered and delivered the match-sealing takedown.
“When it comes down to overtime, it’s whoever wants it more,” Massa said. “There’s not as much skill, not as much strategy and I knew that kid was gonna break after that last shot he took. I knew that was everything he had and I wasn’t gonna give up until I couldn’t walk off that mat.”
This win was especially meaningful for Massa, since he had lost his last four matches. Granted, the losses were all at the hands of top-10 ranked opponents, but a losing streak is not something that Massa is used to.
“I’ve been battling injury and I lost four matches in a row,” Massa said. “I can’t tell you the first time I lost four matches in a season, let alone a row, so mentally I wasn’t all there, so I’ve been in the room working my butt off for six hours a day.”
Now, Massa has left all his past losses behind him and is working to get healthy and foster the right mentality to secure victory.
“This win was awesome, those matches are the matches that I need,” Massa said. “Now, let’s say I’m 75 percent. When I get to 100 percent in March, that’s only gonna get worse. All those losses that I had, I’m gonna reverse them come March. Those are gonna make me better and they’re only gonna make me train harder, so come March they better be ready because I’m comin’.”
Kevin Beazley’s inconsistencies
Last week, fifth-year senior Kevin Beazley stepped up and delivered a career-defining performance by upsetting then-fifth ranked Cash Wilcke from Iowa. This week, Beazley seemed to have left his aggression in Iowa City. He fell to Erik Schultz, an opponent he handily defeated earlier in the season.
Beazley jumped to an early lead by securing a takedown in the first period. He then erroneously went on the defensive, desperately trying to cling to his lead.
It’s a strategy that plagues all athletes. The defense becomes complacent, only worrying about the big play. Then suddenly, an upset happens.
“He didn’t wrestle seven minutes,” said Michigan coach Joe McFarland. “He’s looking at the clock halfway through the match and you can’t do that. Kevin’s gotta wrestle a complete match, he wrestles a complete match, he beats that kid every time. That one, he wasn’t focused on the right stuff in those moments and you gotta focus on scoring the next point and getting the next position.”
In order to find consistent success this season and heed McFarland’s advice, Beazley must wrestle as if he’s down two to a higher-ranked opponent every time. When he does, success is imminent.
Latter five weight classes cement elite position
Four of the five Wolverine wrestlers in the heaviest five weight classes are ranked in the top 10. With that, other teams will have a difficult time traversing the second half of the program.
With Massa back in the lineup and rapidly approaching peak competing form, he, redshirt sophomore Myles Amine, redshirt senior Domenic Abounader, Beazley and fifth-year senior Adam Coon serve as Michigan’s iron wall.
Against Nebraska, they won four of their five matchups — two to ranked opponents. Unlike traditional matches, the latter five weight classes went out early. Abounader led off the meet for the first time in his career and did not disappoint.
Overall, these five consistently produce dominant performances that will be pivotal for the remainder of the dual season.
“We won a lot of the scrappy, hard-fought matches tonight,” McFarland said. “Those are always good to win. There were moments in those matches where some of those matches could’ve gone either way and our guys took control.”