I've been thinking about doing a diary entry about Michigan Wrestling for awhile now, and with the start of the Big Ten schedule this weekend, I figured it was as good of a time as any to start. I'm gonna try to preview the matchups and make a vague prediction about the final result, probably with the accuracy of a Nick Sheridan thrown 15 yard out. I'll give a small breakdown of how each team is doing season wise and recently, and then break the meet down match by match, giving the wrestlers I expect to be out there, their ranking, and how I expect the match to end. Michigan's kids will be listed first at each weight, and if there is a question as to who will go I'll try to mention who else might get the nod.
The first team Michigan will wrestle in the conference schedule is Northwestern. The Wildcats come into Cliff Keen Arena ranked 19th in the country in the NWCA rankings, with a 9-3 overall record, and coming off an upset of #17 Wisconsin. Michigan checks in at 18th in the country with a record of 5-6, and when they last wrestled suffered a loss to a surprisignly good Virginia Tech team, and has yet to officially wrestle in conference, though they did happen to face Penn State in a non-conference tournament. With that, onto the matchups, which include a lot of speculation about how good NW's kids not named Precin and Herbert are.
125: Micheal Watts (15th), Brandon Precin (3rd)
This is a tough one for the Wolverines. Watts is pretty solid, but Precin is one of the top kids at a weight class that is ridiculously top heavy. Precin is ranked 3rd, and the returning national champ, Escobedo, is sitting at the 6 spot. I think Watts can manage to go all 7 minutes with him, but I can't see him holding him to less than a major decision here.
Wildcats lead 4-0
133: Zac Stevens, Eric Metzler
I don't really know what to expect here. Stevens is a true freshman starter with a 9-5 record to date. Metzler is a redshirt junior who has been so-so in his time at Northwestern, and is 3-1 this year. It seems he was out earlier in the year, for reasons I don't want to look through Northwestern wrestling forums for. Last year Metzler beat Chris Diehl 4-0, and Stevens was able to beat him out for the starting job. It'll be a close match, but in a tight match I've got to go with the upperclassmen in the decision.
Wildcats lead 7-0
141: Kellen Russel (5th), Keith Sulzer (16th)
Finally, a matchup that favors the Wolverines. Russel is a sophomore who started last year and shot up the rankings, at one point being ranked 1st at 141, but finished last year without placing at NCAA's after losing 2 very tough matches. Sulzer is a redshirt sophomore who also notched some good wins last year but failed to place at the tournament. Russel might be a little banged up, but he is the better wrestler, and should win a close decision.
Wildcats lead 7-3
149: Mark Weber?, Andrew Nadhir
I put the question mark because I'm not sure who gets sent out here. Weber has the most matches of everyone, but you could also see Mark Beaudry or Justin Chrznowski here. I think we see Weber because he has performed the best so far this season. Weber is a true freshman with a 6-8 record and was a 4 time state champion in high school. Nadhir is a redshirt sophomore, oddly enough from Detroit Catholic Central, who is 7-8 on the year. Neither guy stands out, and normally I would go with the kid who has been in college more, but I've seen Weber wrestle a lot, and I think he can pull this one out in a close decision.
Wildcats lead 7-6
157: Aaron Hynes, Jason Welch (15th)
This could be a swing match. Hynes is a redshirt sophomore, currently with a record of 10-6. Welch is a true freshman, and at a record of 16-5. Welch was OMG Shirtless! wrestling recruit, the NW site says he was the top recruit last year, and with him being a 3 time California state champ, I'm willing to take their word for it. Hynes probably can beat him, but I dont' think it happens. I'm going with a decisions for Welch.
Wildcats lead 10-6
165: Justin Zeerip, Dominic Marella
A must win match for Michigan. Zeerip is a true freshman, was a 4 time undefeated state champ in high school, and currently holds the record for most wins in a career in Michigan. He will be going up against Dominic Marella, a redshirt junior, who started out last year strong but failed to quality for the NCAA's after going 0-2 at Big Tens, and has been dissapointing this year at 5-10. Marella has been inconsistent this year, able to hold Marable (7th) to a decision but getting pinned by Rendos (15), Headlee (UR), and Young (UR). I think Zeerip wins in a decision, but don't be overly surprised if Marella gets caught in something nad put on his back.
Wildcats lead 10-9
174: Steve Luke (1st), Robert Kellog
We're starting to get into the part of the lineup where the big guns are. Luke is a redshirt senior who placed 2nd last year at NCAA's and comes in with the top ranking and a spotless record, Kellog is a redshirt freshman who comes in with a 10-7 record. Luke might be able to pin him but pins are so rare in college I hate expecting one. I think he goes in and builds up a lead at least big enough to get the major and then tried to get a nearfall or two so that if he can tech him he gets the TF5 instead of just the TF.
Wolverines lead 14-10
184: Anthony Biondo (12th), Jake Herbert (1st)
This looks like a good match with just the numbers, but it won't be pretty. Biondo is a redshirt sophomore and 8-4 on the year, sadly, it won't matter much. Herbert was a national champion in 2007, and took 2008 off in order to train for the Oympics. He was granted another year of eligibility from the NCAA and has returned with a vengeance. Out of those 20 matches, only 2 of them have lasted the full 7 minutes, 14-1 and 15-1 victories. One of those he pinned at a later time and the other is currently ranked 3rd. As much as I respect Biondo and think he will have a great career at Michigan, a tech would be surprising. Herbert is just too good.
Wildcats least 16-14
197: Tyrel Todd (6), John Schoen
This one looks like a sure win, but the bonus points will be important. Todd is a redshirt senior, 2 time all american, currently undefeated. Schoen is a redshirt freshman who has a 6-11 record and has really struggled with the top kids at 197. Like Luke, Todd can probably pin here, but its not likely. I'm not even sure if he gets the tech as he's a little banged up, but he won't get anything less than the major decision.
Wolverines lead 18-16
HWY: Eddie Phillips, Ben Kuhar
It all comes down to this one. Phillips is a redshirt sophomore, holding a record of 8-6. Kuhar is a redshirt freshman with a record of 6-10. The best guage I have on these two is each have wrestled Michigans other HWY, Chad Bleske, and each came away with very close decisions. This match is probably a coin flip either way, so I'm going to go with Phillips, for no reason other than I can't predict Michigan to lose the first time I do this.
Wolverines win, 21-16.