Michigan Wrestling at the 2015 Big Ten Championships
The Wolverines tripped to Columbus, OH on March 6-8, and came away with a 4th place finish earning 102.5 points. It was their highest team finish since 2009 when they placed 3rd. It was the most points that Michigan has scored at the Big Ten Championships since 2006 when they also placed nine wrestlers in ten weight classes scoring 115 points. Overall, Michigan's record was 30 wins and 18 losses for a 62.5% winning percentage. One thing for sure, as a Michigan Wrestling Fan, you can be proud of the team's efforts and intensity, it was at a high level.
Kudos to the coaches!!! Coach McFarland and Staff really had the team prepared for the intense skirmishes that took place, and the Wolverines surprised many by finishing 4th especially Illinois, Penn State and Nebraska who thought they'd easily outwrestle Michigan in the team standings. The genius of Coach McFarland with taking Freshman Garrett Sutton off his redshirt year, and inserting him into the line-up and moving Massa to 174 lbs. paid big dividends. Things didn't look as good after the morning session on Saturday as Michigan was in 6th place, but after the evening session, they wrestled to 4th place and continued the intensity on Sunday holding off Illinois and Penn State who've been higher ranked the whole season.
I was on the mat assessing and evaluating the individual and team performances while photographing and chatting with wrestlers, coaches and others on the sidelines during the event. The coaches, Joe McFarland, Sean Bormet, and Kellen Russell really did a nice job of preparing each wrestler, and coaching them throughout the grueling two-day marathon. One could hear the intensity in the vocal coaching of McFarland whether he was in the corner or on the sideline; the wrestlers looked to McFarland for encouragement throughout their bouts. The calm demeanor of Coach Bormet helped instill confidence and poise in the wrestlers that they could implement their strategies and outlanst their opponents. I watched Coach Russell reviewing video of opponents on his smartphone and sharing thoughts and strategies with Coach Churella in preparing for the next rounds of battle. The team was well-coached and easily the most improved team at the championships. The four coaches make a great team as they represent the Wolverines in each of the last four decades: McFarland in the 1980s, Bormet in the 1990s, Churella in the 2000s, and Russell in the 2010s.
125 lbs. Conor Youtsey 5th Place 3-2 Record
Conor, the #6 seed, had a first round bye, and took on #3 seed and eventual Champion, Nathan Tomasello, in his first bout. Both wrestlers felt each other out in the first minute, but Tomasello got a quick go behind with at the 1:20 mark and earned 37 seconds of riding time until Youtsey escaped for a 2-1 first period finish. Conor tied the score at 2-2 after 9 seconds into the second period, but he couldn't score after shooting an unsuccessful single. Tomasello capitalized again with only 4 seconds to go in the period on another takedown to end the second stanza, 4-2, with 42 second of riding time. Tomasello escaped in two seconds to take a 5-2 advantage. Youtsey got in a shot, but couldn't finish as the 5-2 advantage held up.
In the first round of consolations, Conor drew unseeded Sean McCabe of Rutgers. In the first period, Conor shot, but action was stalemated with 1:39 to go; then, Conor shot again without being able to finish with 50 seconds to go. Finally, his third shot of the period with 7 seconds to go was also unsuccessful, and he drew no stall call from the referee so a 0-0 first period with Conor doing all the work. In the second period, Youtsey chose down, and gained a reversal to go ahead, 2-0; both wrestlers went out of bounds with 1:03 to go. Conor was cautioned on the start, but rode him for 57 seconds before allowing an escape. He almost got back points with a suck back prior to the escape. In the last period, McCabe chose neutral, but didn't really stalk or purse Conor for a takedown. Conor got poked in the eye with 1:18 to go, but had to continue rather than take injury time. Conor did shoot a high crotch, but the bout ended 2-1.
In the next bout, Conor drew #7 seed Ethan Lizak of Minnesota; they didn't wrestler in the dual in January. Lizak lost to Delgado, 6-3, and then beat Mitch Rogaliner of MSU , 5-0. In the first period, Conor shot, but couldn't finish and the period ended 0-0 as Lizak took a cautious approach much like McCabe playing "Possum" with defense. In the second period, Conor chose down, and got ridden out the whole period as Lizak is especially tough with the legs. Lizak did get a caution for stalling with 17 seconds to go, and rightfully so, he was riding with no intention of gaining a near fall. In the third period, Lizak escaped in nine seconds so he locked in the riding time advantage, Conor had to chase him, and he did. Conor drew another stall call on Lizak for the point to negate the riding time advantage with 59 seconds to go. The last 28 seconds was wild as Youtsey scored on a takedown, but Lizak reversed to send the bout into sudden victory overtime at 3-3. In the sudden victory, Youtsey scored quickly with a go behind to win 5-3; it was a very exciting finish.
I was not able to see the Youtsey-Conaway rematch that Conaway won 3-2 in the dual, but the bout ended 1-1 with two escapes and no riding time advantage. Conaway won 2-1 on sudden victory tiebreaker when he escaped, but Conor didn't. In the Youtsey-Lambert rematch that Conor won 4-0 in the dual meet, Conor won again, 2-1, with a ride out to place 5th as he beat the #4 seed. Lambert also lost to Conaway, 7-4, as the Michigander lost a sudden victory battle to Delgado, 6-4, in overtime. Conaway gave up 3rd place to Delgado on a medical forfeit. Conor has a shot to make Top 8 in St. Louis, but he'll really need to get a good draw and wrestle well. I wonder if a Boyle-Youtsey matchup is on the horizon? Good luck in St. Louis, Conor!
133 lbs. Rossi Bruno 7th Place 3-2 Record
Rossi drew tough #9 Eric Montoya of Nebraska in the opening round. Rossi kept low, and finally shot on the left leg getting the takedown and riding Montoya for 1:08. In the second period, Bruno rode Montoya, and then cut him accumulating now 1:35 in riding time. Both wrestlers were cautious on their feet with Rossi the aggressor throughout. In the third period, Bruno extended his lead to 3-1, but now Montoya began chasing him. Finally, Montoya threw Bruno on a shuck by and go behind and rode him enough to take away his riding time so we were locked at 3-3 as they went out of bounds. Rossi gained a quick escape with less than 30 seconds to go to take a 4-3 lead, but while trying to protect the lead, Montoya almost got another shuck on the edge in the last 5 seconds. Rossi fought it off for a 4-3 win. It was an exciting end to a bout that Bruno controlled for the first 6 minutes.
Rossi met #1 seed and eventual champion, Chris Dardanes of Minnesota, in the quarterfinals. Dardanes got a quick takedown, and quickly took control of the bout. He rode Rossi for 2:47 and scored two more takedowns and an escape while Rossi could only manage three escapes for an 8-3 decision. That constant pressure and pushing ahead and through your opponent was executed by Dardanes as he beat Clark of Iowa and Taylor of Wisconsin to take the title.
In the first round of consolations, Rossi drew #4 Johnni DiJulius of Ohio State. Rossi got the first shot, but action was stalemated with 1:39 to go in the first period. Both wrestlers were cautious in a scoreless first period. In the second period, DiJulius put in the legs and pressured Rossi accumulating 1:23 in riding time until he escaped. In the last period, Bruno also put in the legs, but got too high and DiJulius got the reversal and closed out a 2-1 win with 2:53 in riding time for a 3-1 final. DiJulius is tough on top, and that was the difference between these two well-matched wrestlers.
The next bout pitted #10 Scott Delvecchio of Rutgers against Rossi. In the first period, Rossi hit a shot, but couldn't finish. He did get a takedown on a go behind with 1:15 to go. After an escape by Delvecchio, he hit a shot for a takedown, and Bruno escaped for a 3-3 tie; however, Rossi took control of the first period and the bout with another takedown with 20 seconds to go and accumulated 27 seconds in riding time. The second period saw an escape by Delvecchio to cut the lead to 5-4 as the period ended with both wrestlers being a bit more cautious, Rosse had 34 seconds in riding time. In the third period, Rossi escaped in 15 seconds to go up 6-4, and then hit a nice shot on the left leg to go ahead 8-4 with 33 seconds to go. After a re-start and caution on Bruno at the start, Delvecchio escaped with 12 seconds to go for a 8-5 final.
I missed Rossi's 7th place bou; he had another re-match with Montoya, and this time he flattened him in the first period at 2:45. Next year will be Rossi's senior year, and perhaps it will be his turn at the top of the podium. He still has a great chance to make the Top 8 in St. Louis if he gets a good draw. Good luck in St. Louis, Rossi!
141 lbs. George Fisher 9th Place 2-2 Record
George started off against #7 Jameson Oster of Northwestern. #10 Fisher shot in the first 30 seconds, but Oster used his hips to not only block the takedown, but put Fisher in jeopardy. The same thing happened again later in the period with 31 seconds to go. Fisher was hurt toward the end of the period after the scramble with the score 0-0. Fisher started down in the second period, and gained a quick reversal, and almost put Oster on his back but Oster escaped at the 28 second mark; then, Oster took down Fisher on a counter for a 3-2 lead. Oster built 48 seconds of riding time with the legs as the period ended. Oster escaped to start the 3rd period with a 4-2 lead. Fisher chased him and shot again, but couldn't finish and Oster scrambled to another takedown to go ahead 6-2. Oster built 2:16 in riding time using the legs for a 7-2 win. Great effort by Fisher, but Oster's defense and counters were too much.
I also watched two interesting bouts at 141 with Wisconsin's #13 Jesse Thielke upsetting #4 Steven Rodriquez with a pin at 2:51 in the first period, and #5 Anthony Arshnault wrestling Thielke in a close bout where he showed the referee he wanted the alternate start to let Thielke up; then, as Thielke cautiously started to stand, Arshault jumped back on him with a cradle, took him over and pinned him at 5:50.
Fisher drew #8 Nick Lawrence in the first round of consolations; he lost 8-7 in th dual meet last month. Fisher started fast with a takedown; he built 1:12 in riding time and almost got back points with a suck back with 32 seconds to go in the period. In the second period, Fisher started down; he escaped in 20 seconds after a caution to Lawrence for false start. Fisher then shot, but they went out of bounds with 1:14 to go. Lawrence then manuevered behind Fisher in what looked like a sure takedown; Fisher countered and they went out of bounds neutral. The sequence was reviewed, and the referees gave Lawrence the takedown with 50 seconds to go in the period to put him ahead 3-2. Fisher escaped to tie the bout, 3-3, and held 1:11 in riding time to end the 2nd period. Lawrence was down to start the 3rd period. Fisher stayed with Lawrence several times as he tried to get loose, but he finally escaped to go ahead, 4-3. They went out of bounds with 1:17 to go, and stalemates was called with 43 seconds and 23 seconds to go. The fireworks happened in the last 20 seconds with a lot of questionable scoring in the bout with a takedown by Fisher, and then an escape credited to Lawrence to knot up the score 5-5 to send it to overtime. I think the bout should have been stopped at that point for a scoring review, but the referees started the overtime. The review would have been good for Fisher because it looked like he won the bout, but the questionable loss of control put it into o.t.; he could have used the review time to re-group mentally. Unfortunately, Lawrence got a quick takedown in sudden victory for the win. I asked Head Official, Mike Allen, if the review needed to take place before the overtime, and he concurred; Coach McFarland was still trying to appeal the scoring at the end of the 3rd period on video review if for no other reason just to see if the referees did mess up.
Well, Mr. Fisher was not eliminated; he came back to wrestle #4 Steven Rodriques of Illinois for the wild card birth and 9th place. Fisher stuck Rodriques at 2:48 of the first period after also defeating #9 Kade Moss of Penn State, 4-1. He deserves a trip to St. Louis! It was a great effort from George!!!
149 lbs. Alex Pantaleo 4th Place 3-2 Record
Alec started at his usual fast pace with three takedowns while giving up two escapes in the first period in his first round bout with unseeded Trevor Moody of Indiana. He accumulated 1:53 in riding time and chose his favorite position to start the second period, neutral. After another takedown, Alec built an 8-2 lead with 2:34 in riding time. In the third period, another takedown plus the riding time ended in a major decision, 11-2.
In the quarterfinals, Alec drew #4 Ken Theobold of Rutgers. Alec got in on a single and finished for a takedown at the 50 second mark with Theobold escaping in 6 seconds. Alec then hit two more shots, but neither was deep enough; then, he followed those with two more good shots, but couldn't finish either. Wrestling was stopped with 17 seconds to go with a potentially dangerous knee. Alec deferred his choice, and Theobold went down and escaped after 15 seconds to tie it up at 2-2. Another nice shot and finish by Alec with a quick escape by Theobold gave Alec a 4-3 lead. Alec then established control of the bout by hitting three more quick takedowns with two escapes sandwiched in between for an 10-5 lead. Alec upped the intensity, and Theobold couldn't keep up the pace; Theobold cringed with pain with his ankle and Coach Pritzlaff threw in the towel to end the bout at 4:32. Part of what it takes to beat the best wrestlers is to employ the "killer instinct" to finish them, and that is what Alec did.
I really though Alec would avenge the dual meet riding time loss to Iowa's #1 Brandon Sorenson in the semi-finals, but it didn't happen. Sorenson's style is just simply to tie up and block any takedown attempts while pushing ahead in the traditional Hawkeye style. Alec didn't keep moving laterally and force the action to Sorenson. Sorenson stays to low to allow a straight on shot to be successful. It was another escape by Sorenson with a point of riding time for a 2-0 win. These are freshman learning experiences for Alec; he must get better on the mat on defense and on offense, and he must use his quickness and intensity to his advantage rather than letting it get blocked and slowed down.
In the consolations, Alec avenged the dual meet loss to #6 Zack Beitz with a 3-1 win on a late 2nd period takedown, but lost in sudden victory to unseeded Kyle Langenderfer of Illinois, 9-7. Apparently, Alec was behind early to Langenderfer, but rallied in the bout while losing in an overtime scramble; while I didn't watch the bout, it was said that he didn't finish on many shots that could have clinched it. Alec placed 4th, and must now prepare for an even more rugged NCAA tournament. He is capable of a Top 8 finish. Good luck in St. Louis, Alec!
157 lbs. Brian Murphy 5th Place 4-2 Record
Brian's first round opponent was Ben Sullivan of Northwestern, and he flattened him in 45 seconds with a big pin after a takedown on the left leg in the first 11 seconds. He put the legs in and applied pressure on the head, and it was all over.
In the quarterfinals, Brian drew #5 Chad Welch of Purdue; he pinned Welch in 4:57 at West Lafayette last month. Murphy used the Russian two on one tie quite often and shot on Welch's left leg, but didn't finish with 34 seconds to go in the period. Murphy chose down, and reversed to take a 2-0 lead. He had some good follows on Welch's escape attempts, and built 1:20 in riding time. In the 3rd period, Welch chose down and almost had a reverse on Murphy; the referee reversed his own reversal calls twice, but Murphy built his riding time to 1:45 until Welch escaped. Then, it seemed like Murphy stopped wrestling. The coaches were shouting at him to "move his legs," but he didn't respond. Welch almost had one takedown, and then he took down Murphy on his second try to take a 3-2 lead. He rode out Murphy with his legs and negated the big advantage that Brian built up so the final was 3-2 Welch in a disappointing turn of events.
In the first round of consolations, Murphy drew Travis Curley of MSU. It was a cautious first period without much action and ended 0-0. In the second period, Murphy chose down, and escaped to go ahead, 1-0. After action was stalemated with 1:09 to go, Murphy hit a double to go ahead, 3-0; he rode out Curley with 44 seconds of riding time. Curley escaped after choosing down in the third stanza, but a shot by Murphy followed by a near fall ended the bout 8-1, and with 1:34 in riding time gave him a 9-1 major decision.
Murphy faced an unorthodox opponent in #10 Lou Mascola of Maryland. The first period was very frustrating for Brian as Mascola looked easy to takedown, but he was elusive. Murphy did score a takedown with 1:17 to go, but a quick escape by Mascola made it 2-1. Mascola shot near the end of the period, but it ended 2-1 with 6 seconds riding time. In the second period, Murphy chose down, and escaped after 13 seconds, and then got in a shot and finish to go ahead, 5-1. Murphy was riding bulldog for a while, but eventually Mascola escaped to make it 5-2 to enter the 3rd period with Murphy holding an 18 second riding time advantage. In the third period, things happened quickly in the first 16 seconds as a scramble ensued with Murphy putting in a double grapevine and flattening Mascola at 5:16. Mascola pushed Murphy off of him as he was definitely hurting, and Murphy was emotionally upset. I can only speculate that it may have been a combination of the frustration of wrestling someone so unorthodox as Mascola, but also possibly a release of frustration from the earlier bout he lost to Welch. Either way, one of the referees held Murphy back and helped to calm him down.
In the next round, Murphy met #3 seed James Green, and a quick first period fall at 2:57 would send Brian to the 5th place final against Chad Welch. There would be no mistake about who would prevail as Brian took a demonstrative 8-3 win for 5th place. Brian has really improved this season, and is a much tougher rider now; one can observe that he has really worked hard, and it shows. Good luck in St. Louis, Brian!
165 lbs. Garrett Sutton 6th Place 3-3 Record
Garrett drew #5 Jackson Morse of Illinois, a native Michigander from Lowell, to begin his Big Ten baptism. They exchanged takedowns and escapes form a 3-3 first period with Sutton holding a 1:12 riding time advantage. Sutton shot on the left leg of Morse, but they went out of bound; then he hit a double to a single, but action was stalemated late in the first period. In the second period, Morse escaped, then hit a single on Sutton's left leg, but action was stalemated. Another shot by Morse fell short of the mark, then another shot by Morse to Sutton's left leg resulted in another stalemate with 11 seconds to go. Sutton built 1:17 in riding time through two periods. In the third period, Sutton chose neutral, and shot on the edge, but action went out of bounds. Then, a double by Morse was defended by Sutton as action went out of bounds with 49 seconds to go. Finally, Morse got a takedown to up his lead to 6-3, and rode out Sutton to negate the riding time advantage to 32 seconds for a 6-3 win. Sutton almost gained a reversal near the end.
In the first round of consolations, Sutton drew Spartan Junior Roger Wildmo, and won a decisively 10-4 with four takedowns and 1:04 in riding time. In the second round, Garrett drew #6 Garrett Hammond. Sutton gained a takedown and 48 seconds in riding time before Hammond gained an escape in the first period. Sutton was out in 4 seconds in the second period while both wrestlers were cautious on their feet to end the period, 3-1. In the last period, Hammond chose down and escaped. Garrett shot, but action went out of bounds with 1:17 to go, and he shot again with action going out with 50 seconds to go. Finally, Garrett got the clinching takedown while giving up another escape for a 5-3 win.
Garrett drew #10 Pat Robinson of Purdue in the next round, and avenged a loss in the dual meet, 3-2, with a resounding 6-1 win with two takedowns, and escape plus 1:09 in riding time. While Garrett had a great tournament, he lost his final bout to Morse, 2-0, as he gave up a 2nd period escape after a scoreless first period; then, Morse rode him out to end the bout so Garrett was seeded 12th, and earned 6th place. Best of luck in St. Louis, Garrett! It should be a valuable experience!
174 lbs. Taylor Massa 7th Place 3-2 Record
Taylor came in seeded #9 and drew #8 Frank Cousins of Wisconsin who was defeated by teammate Jake Salazar in the dual meet, 9-3. Cousins started fast with a takedown in 20 seconds, but Massa escaped in 13 seconds; then, Taylor stalked Cousins with a shot and finish to go ahead, 3-2. After an escape by Cousins and a shot by the Badger, Taylor tried a throw and missed. Taylor then shot on the left leg and converted a takedown to go ahead, 5-3. Cousins escaped, but Taylor took him down again on a shot to go ahead 7-4 to end the first period with 17 seconds of riding time. Taylor deferred to Cousins who chose down and escaped after 23 seconds. Taylor then converted a takedown off a headlock and go behind for a 9-5 lead. Massa accumulated 1:49 in riding time, and both wrestlers were tired at this point of the bout and not moving well. Massa chose down and escaped to begin the third period. Cousins got a takedown on the edge, but Massa escaped to make the score 11-7. Finally, Taylor gained a final takedown, and with 1:49 in riding time took a 14-7 win.
The second bout wasn't pretty. #1 seed Robert Kokesh set a new Big Ten pin record by taking Taylor over in a fireman's carry to flatten him in 16 seconds. Taylor gained some sense of revenge in the next bout with a quick 1:57 pin of his own over Purdue's #7 Chad Welch.
Taylor met #5 Zac Brunson of Illinois in the next round, and they had a cautious first period that ended scoreless, 0-0. In the second period, Brunson escaped in six seconds, and neither wrestler did much although Brunson did execute a shot. After an escape by Taylor to start the third period, Brunson was able to secure a takedown. Taylor did escape with 35 seconds to go, but couldn't mount any attack so the bout ended, 3-2.
Taylor met Cousins again for the 7th place bout, and didn't waste any time in flattening him at 1:46. Taylor can handle the guys at this weight, but he's got to get himself in better shape so he can push them. Good luck in St. Louis, Taylor!
184 lbs. Domenic Abounader 1st Place 3-0 Record Big Ten Champion
Domenic drew a first round bye, and then wrestled tough #7 Nikko Reyes of Illinois after he defeated #10 Patrick Kissel of Purdue, 6-4. Reyes jumped all over Domenic as he took him down not once, but twice in the first period. Domenic did earn two escapes, but Reyes came out aggressive and also held 27 seconds of riding time. In the second period, Reyes deferred and Domenic chose down; he escaped in 19 seconds to make the bout, 4-3, for Reyes. At this point it was critical that Dom would get a takedown, and he did with a double to go ahead, 5-4. He rode Reyes to negate the riding time, and gain 14 seconds of his own in advantage. In the third period, Reyes made his fatal error, he chose down. Domenic took full advantage and rode him out in his usual tough style with the legs. He went to the bar arm, and then the wing while the referee called a warning on Reyes for stalling. After the ride out and the 6-4 win, Reyes did shake hands with Abounader, but then pushed him not once, but twice. It was a poor ending to a really well wrestled bout, and a show of poor sportsmanship by Reyes. Also, the referee should have penalized Illinois appropriately and deducted a team point, but it didn't happend. Instead, Michigan was penalized in a Control of Mat warning by the referee for questioning why he wasn't penalized when the sequence of events happened in fronto of both referees. In addition, the Illinois coaches didn't verbally reprimand Reyes or even speak to him about the show of poor sportsmanship. He may have been disappointed by the turn of events in the bout, and by being ridden the whole third period, but that's wrestling and there is no reason to display that type of behavior.
Dom drew tough #3 Ricky Robertson of Wisconsin who edge T.J. Dudley of Nebraska, 10-9, in a tiebreaker in the quarterfinals. Abounader beat Robertson in tiebreaker at the dual meet in January. Action was stopped after 34 seconds as they went out of bounds, but Domenic hit a single and finish with 1:24 to go in the period to go ahead, 2-0, and built 1:24 in riding time. In the second period, Dom escaped in 12 seconds. A hot by Robertson was held off by Dom; then, action was stalemated with 49 seconds to go. Another block by Dom on a shot by Robertson, and another stalemate followed by another shot by Robertson drew a stall call warning on Abounader to end the second period. In the third period, Robertson chose neutral and continued to stalk Abounader with several shots while Dom only had one in return. After a couple more stalemates, Domenic shot and took down Robertson with 29 seconds to go. He gave up a late escape, but held 1:17 in riding time for a 6-1 win.
In the finals, Domenic met #4 Brett Pfarr of Minnesota who handled #5 Kenny Courts, 7-2, and #8 Matt McCutcheon, 4-2. Abounader defeated Pfarr in the dual meet, 8-7. Domenic started fast with finishing a single, but Pfarr immediately tripoded up so Dom couldn't put in the legs. After an escape, Domenic spun behind in a scramble for another takedown, but gave up a reversal to Pfarr in the last 3 seconds of the period to end it 4-4. After escapes in the second and third periods, Domenic completed his championship run by taking Pfarr down with 23 seconds to go on a single. He gave an escape, but prevailed, 7-6. Good luck in St. Louis, Domenic!
197 lbs. Max Huntley 5th Place 4-2 Record
Max met #11 Jeff Koepke in the opening round, and came up with two first period takedowns in the first period to take a 4-1 lead with 38 seconds of riding time. He defered choice to Koepke, and he chose down; Huntley rode him out to gain 2:38 riding time advantage, but Koepke was penalized for unnecessary roughness, 5-1, as he pushed Max in the nose. Then, Huntley chose neutral and gained another takedown on the edge of the mat for a 7-1 lead. After an escape and a stall warning to Koepke, the bout ended 8-2 as Max had 2:48 in riding time.
The next bout by Max was against #3 Scott Schiller, a returning Two-Time All-American, in the quarterfinals. Max started fast several shots, but couldn't finish as action went out of bounds with 1:45 to go; then, again at 1:30 to go with two almost finishes. Then, after a shot and re-shot, Schiller gained a takedown. Max came right back with an escape and takedown of his own with 16 seconds to go in the period, but gave up an escape with four seconds to go when the coaches emphasized for him to hold Schiller down. It was 3-3 to end the first period with Schiller holding 5 seconds of riding time. Schiller escaped again in 9 seconds to begin the second period to gain a 4-3 advantage; then, Schiller shot, but a good counter by Huntley resulted in a takedown for a 5-4 lead. Schiller escaped again with 3 seconds to go in the period for a 5-5 finish. In the third period, Max escaped after choosing down to take a 6-5 lead; the next takedown might win it. Schiller got a takedown and a two count for a 9-6 lead late in the period with 15 seconds of riding time. It was a very close well-wrestled bout with conditioning being a key to the win by Schiller.
In the first round of consolations, Max met #5 Aaron Studebaker of Nebraska who beat him in the dual meet in sudden victory overtime. Max started quickly with a takedown in the first 20 seconds. After an escape, Max hit a double, and then cut Studebaker with 1:18 to go. Max hit another shot and finish with 39 seconds to go, and after an escape, Max held a 6-3 lead with 1:13 riding time to end the period. An escape by Studebaker narrow the gap to 6-4 after 13 seconds in the second stanza. Max got in a few more shots drawing a stall warning to Studebaker to end the period. In the last period, Max chose neutral, and there was a stalemate with 1:20 to go. After a shot by Studebaker and a nice block by Max with 23 seconds to go, it was all over. Max really wore him out with a furious pace in the first period. The final was 7-4 with 1:26 in riding time.
Max drew #9 Braden Atwood of Purdue in the next round, and he started fast again with two takedowns and 2:33 in riding time in the first period to close, 4-1. After selecting neutral in the second period, he gained another takedown to go ahead 6-1. In the third period, Atwood was penalized for locked hands for trying to prevent a reversal that Max finally got so with riding time it was a 10-3 final.
Max lost a 4-3 decision to Iowa's #4 Nathan Burak as he gained an early takedown, but gave up a takedown to end the period. Burak was too tough on top.
In Max's 5th place bout, he had a re-match with Illinois Koepke, and destroyed him again with a 10-1 major decision. Max is wrestling well on his feet, and has improved his conditioning, but hauling around those big bodies really takes a toll over 7 minutes. He's got to really improve on the mat if he wants to be on the podium to close out his wrestling career. Good luck in St. Louis, Max!
285 lbs. Adam Coon 3rd Place 3-1 Record
Adam began the tournament with a bye, and then was matched against #10 Brooks Black of Illinois who upset #7 Spencer Myers of Maryland in the opening round, 3-2. Black is a "brawler" and Adam told me they've wrestled each other since 3rd grade so he knew what to expect. Black came at Adam early with a lot of pushing in the first minute. Adam came back, and finally shot in and took Black down gaining 15 seconds of riding time to end the first period. Adam chose down, and Black was cautioned after pushing off Adam to start the period. Adam escaped in about 22 seconds to take a 3-0 lead. In the third period, Black escaped to make the score 3-1. There was little action in the 3rd period until about 34 seconds to go after they went out of bounds. I had to chuckle as it was comical how Black tried to trip Adam not once or twice, but three times without holding on to Adam. Obviously, even if he made contact and tripped Adam, it is illegal. Adam finished Black off with a quick go behind for a 5-1 win.
In the semi-finals, Adam took on Big Ten Champion and All-American #3 Mike McMullan of Northwestern. Adam gained a takedown on a quick go behind, and after an escape by McMullan with 1:52 to go the Wildcat coaching staff asked for a review. The scoring was upheld and action resumed without scoring to end the period with Adam gaining 6 seconds of riding time. In the second period, Adam escaped to go ahead, 3-1. Coon then shot, but couldn't finish on the edge with 24 seconds to go. He was in control of the bout when some "dicey" scoring occurred when a reversal was called, and then an escape; I thought it looked like an escape for McMullen with no reversal, but the scoring wasn't reviewed. Then, as momentum quickly changed, McMullen got a quick takedown which again was questionable on the edge of the mat to go ahead, 5-4 with 1:08 to go. An escape by Adam moved the score to a draw, 5-5, and then a slip by Adam resulted in a go behind by McMullen with 22 seconds to go. Adam escaped, but didn't have time to create any offense so the bout ended 7-6. Yes, McMullen was quick and capitalized on a couple edge calls, but they were both questionable and could/should have been reviewed.
Adam took on #5 Jimmy Lawson of Penn State, and Lawson took the lead early with a quick takedown; however, that would be the highlight for the Nitts as Coon came back with three takedowns of his own, and rode Lawson for 2:40 en route to a 9-5 win so he'd go into the 3rd place bout against #1 seed Connor Medbery who was also defeated in the semi-finals by Bobby Telford of Iowa, 3-1, in sudden victory overtime. Telford also outlasted Lawson, 2-1.
Coon saved his best for last! After a scoreless first period, and an exchange of escapes in periods two and three, Adam hit two takedowns while giving up an escape in between to avenge the 4-3 dual meet loss to Medberry with a 5-2 win securing 3rd place. Adam was very, very close to a first place finish and will be our best chance in St. Louis for All-American honors. Good luck in St. Louis, Adam!
Overall, it was a great event to observe, and I'm glad I attended; I've been to several of these tournaments dating back to 1988. I took in every Big Ten Championships from 1988 to 2003 as an oberserver in my refereeing days except 1995-1997 when I refereed the MAC tournament on the same weekend, but this was my first time back since 2003. I chatted with many old friends that were former and current coaches including J Robinson, Joe McFarland, Sean Bormet, Tom Minkel, Tim Cysewski, Russ Hellickson, Barry Davis, Mitch Hull, and some of the wrestling media including Shane Sparks of the Big Ten Network and Andy Hamilton of the Des Moines Register. I gained a new appreciation for photographers as my back, hips, quads, glutes, etc. were all hurting as Saturday wore on and even through Sunday. Several of the other photographers shared their sorest spots with me as well as the job is not a "cushy" as it looks.