Early Look to Next Season
Michigan hired two new coaches. Sean Bormet and Donny Pritzlaff.
Sean Bormet – One of the nations top freestyle coaches who has been involved coaching with multiple world teams and was on the latest Olympic team staff. He holds the 2006, ’08 and ’10 USA Freestyle Coach of the Year titles. He’s a former Wolverine as well. 2 time All-American and 2 time Big Ten Champ while at Michigan. I think his strong freestyle experience will help draw interest of recruits nationwide. That Olympic style presence seems to have been missing.
Donny Pritzlaff – He is coming over from his associate head coach position at his alma matter, Wisconsin. He specialized with middleweights. The Badgers have been a surprise team the past few years, flying up the ranks. He served as the recruiting coordinator while they brought in 3 top 20 classes, including the #2 class in ’08 and #4 in ’11. He was a two time NCAA Champ and 3 time Big Ten Champ himself.
These are two big additions Michigan needed. With the Newer Wrestling Center and strong season, they needed something like this to continue the momentum.
2011 – 2012 Outlook
Key Losses: Anthony Biondo(197)
Returning Starters: Sean Boyle(125), Zac Stevens(133), Kellen Russell(141), Eric Grajales(149), Brandon Zeerip(157), Dan Yates(165), Justin Zeerip(174), Hunter Collins(184), Ben Apland(Hwt)
As you can see, Michigan returns almost the entire team that made a good run last year taking 5th in the Big Ten and 15th Nationally. Kellen Russell is the returning 141 NCAA Champion. I’d expect him to stay at 141. It created a tough spot for RS FR Grajales last year, since 141 would probably have suited him better. Grajales still managed Big Ten runner-up at 149 and should be a strong member for next year.
7 returners made the NCAA tournament last year with only a poor late showing from then FR Brandon Zeerip preventing an 8th.
Additions: Camryn Jackson (Lansing Eastern HS)
Jackson will redshirt IMO. He claimed his first State Championship as a senior this last year. A very athletic, but, raw wrestler that will need to get adjusted to college competition.
Michigan’s recruiting has not impressed for the 2010 or 2011 class with 0 top 150 kids and being ranked out of the top 25 both years. That can be turned around quickly with a strong 2012 that they have I commit already (Jordan Thomas ranked #22) and some more top talent they are eyeing.
Teams Michigan is Chasing
Iowa and Penn State were two young teams last year that will be plugging any losses with top talent again. Iowa’s recruiting has been the #1 class in 2010 and #20 last year. They also got a big transfer in that plugs their biggest hole right away. Penn State’s classes have been #2 in 2010 and #4 last year. Michigan was a noticeable step behind these programs and they haven’t done anything to show they are making up the difference.
Minnesota fell short of the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions, but, were a clear #3 in the B1G. They will be looking to replace some lost senior leadership. They ranked #5 in 2010 and #15 last year in recruiting. If they stay healthy, they will keep themselves above Michigan.
Wisconsin survived on top individuals and not a strong team as showed by there loss to Michigan in the dual, but, higher placing in the tournament. They lose one B1G champ from last year that I think opens the door for Michigan to separate themselves from the Badgers. They have recruited well, but, no game changers that will make an immediate impact.
Newcomer Nebraska took 12th last year nationally, just above Michigan(15th). They lose some pieces, including the #1 wrestler in the nation, but, their recruiting (#7 in ’10, #2 in ’11) will help that out. They will be a good test for the Wolverines. To bad they don’t dual with us next year.
Northwestern has been a solid team of late. They had a #3 recruiting class in 2010. The losses they take this year will be too much to keep up.
Look for Ohio State to make some big strides. They took 8th last year in the B1G. Injuries hit them hard with some incoming freshmen. Taking a look at their recruiting and you’ll see they have the talent. 2009 class - #11, 2010 class - #8, 2011 class - #1. How all these unknowns work out determines their season.
Michigan is working with a strong returning team. They just haven’t been able to string together enough things to compete for team championships. Kellen Russell(141) will anchor this group. Justin Zeerip(174) needs to put together the senior season he is capable of. After that, I look at Eric Gajales(149) and Brandon Zeerip(157) to be able to big players. Boyle(125), Stevens(133), Yates(165) and Apland(Hwt) need to be consistent pieces to have success. Hunter Collins(184) was last years weak point. He needs to take a big step forward. 197 will be filled by either Matt Hart(RS FR) or Max Huntley(RS FR). Huntley comes from powerhouse Blair Academy and has a decent HS profile.
The Wolverines lose key guys after this year (Russell, J. Zeerip and Stevens). So it’s important they make the most of this roster. After this, recruiting needs to improve and quickly. I would like to see them push Minnesota for the 3rd place spot, but, I don’t know if they are capable of it. My worry is that any slip-up opens the door for a line of 4 or 5 solid teams capable of passing them up. I am penciling them in early at 4th.
Personal Note: I enjoyed updating on the Wrestling Team last year and was sorry to cut it short for family reasons which I can’t thank the MGO community enough for their thoughts and prayers for us. Things have progressed well in that area and I’m excited for another good wrestling season.