In its first competitive tournament of the season, the Michigan men’s wrestling team left Sunday’s MSU Open with six champions and a lot to improve upon as the season progresses.
“Some good, some bad,” was how Wolverines’ coach Joe McFarland described his team’s performance in East Lansing.
With 22 athletes competing in the Open, the tournament provided the team with the opportunity to gain experience and determine where fixes need to be implemented.
Despite some early-season rustiness, freshman Andrew Davison, redshirt sophomores Logan Massa and Myles Amine, redshirt senior Domenic Abounader and graduate students Kevin Beazley and Adam Coon all won their respective classes, giving Michigan six wins in six final performances.
In addition to Davison — who is coming off an Indiana state high school title in the 195-pound weight class — the Wolverines had a lot of other freshmen and sophomores competing. Freshman Jack Medley, who finished third in the 125-pound weight class, and redshirt sophomore Sal Profaci, who finished fourth in the 141-pound weight class, headlined the notable performances.
McFarland stressed the importance of using these early matches as building blocks for future success.
These athletes need not look further than their own teammate, Massa, as a solid example of a young athlete who is constantly performing at a high level.
The NCAA All-American is coming off an astounding first full season with Michigan, earning national awards, a third-place finish in the NCAA Championships and a runner-up performance in the Big Ten Championship.
Massa defeated Arizona State’s Anthony Valencia, winning the 165-pound category in a resounding 6-0 decision Sunday.
“He’s always ready to go,” McFarland said, attributing the Massa’s success to his successful preparation and level of intensity before and during meets.
With a solid group of younger athletes along with the team’s already-established names, the Wolverines have a lot of potential.
Despite having six champions, McFarland stressed that the Wolverines have a lot of improving and tweaking to do as the season progresses while adding that some mistakes are normal in a young season.
“It’s the first weekend of competition,” McFarland said. “Some guys are just not in the groove yet.”
The coach’s comments are especially relevant for some of the team’s freshman wrestlers. With the higher intensity of college-level meets, younger athletes will experience the difference between winning and losing as minuscule, and being prepared and ready before a meet begins is crucial.
McFarland stressed that some athletes were not as ready as they should have been from the get-go, and that this lost step cost them their matches.
While there are a lot of possible improvements for the team, the team does have a lot of opportunities to do so before Big Ten meets commence in January.
As McFarland added: “There’s no substitution for experience.”