The No. 3 Michigan wrestling team did not get off to the start it expected in its home opener against Oklahoma.
The 14th-ranked Sooners captured a 23-12 victory over the Wolverines on Sunday. In matches highlighted by quick, persistent attacking, Michigan (3-1) simply could not keep up.
Despite surrendering seven of the 10 matches, the Wolverines kept it close throughout, with five of their losses coming in decisions.
Michigan senior Rossi Bruno did not fare well, suffering a technical fall defeat to defending 133-pound NCAA champion Cody Brewer, 18-2.
“I think (Bruno) allowed himself to get overwhelmed,” said Michigan coach Joe McFarland. “He was wrestling against the defending national champion, and that kid was really setting the pace. Rossi is a lot better than what he showed, but you didn’t see that today from him.”
Perhaps the most pivotal moment of the day came in the 157-pound match, when junior Brian Murphy faced off against Oklahoma’s Shayne Tucker. With a 4-1 lead, Murphy went down with a knee injury, resulting in a default victory and six points for the Sooners. What looked to be a victory to get Michigan back on track ended up dropping the team into a 17-3 hole.
“They were just riding hard and getting to their next position,” McFarland said. “They were getting us reacting to them from the bottom position, and we didn’t do a good job of being a little bit more persistent, putting some things together from the bottom. A lot of that is attitude. We didn’t wrestle with an attitude.”
Senior heavyweight Adam Coon was in control for most of his match, winning the decision, 4-1. Despite his performance, Coon was dissatisfied with the Wolverines’ showing overall.
“We thought we’ve been training at top-notch, but obviously after a showing like this, something is missing,” Coon said. “We’ve got to go back and change things, and we’ll be putting the time in to make sure we are ready to go for the next dual.
“This game is a stepping stone to see where we’re starting, and now we’ve got to keep climbing a lot higher.”
Junior Domenic Abounader amassed the largest margin of victory for Michigan, winning the 184-pound match in an 8-1 decision. With two takedowns, a reversal and 5:22 riding time, Abounader was in the driver’s seat the entire time.
Though the performances of Abounader and Coon were promising signs, the wrestlers acknowledged they need to improve in order to assert themselves as a top-five team in the country.
“We definitely have the ability to win a national championship,” Abounader said. “That’s what I want and what I expect, nothing less.”