The Wolverine

May 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: WRESTLING wrestling in the best conference in the nation would help prepare his squad for an upper-echelon performance on the national stage. The Big Ten acquitted itself well at the 2012 NCAA Cham- pionships March 15-17 in St. Louis, placing six teams in the top 10 spots. Unfortunately, Michigan was not one of them. The Maize and Blue finished 11th with 39 total points, just 1.5 points behind 10th-place Oregon State. "We fell a little bit short as far as where we would have liked to finish," McFarland said. "… We actually would have liked to have been even closer to a top-five finish." Still, the tournament will forever hold a spot in Wolverine wrestling lore after fifth-year senior Kellen Russell became only the sixth grappler in school history to lock up multiple national championships. Russell defended his 141-pound title in exhilarating fash- Kellen Russell Caps His Career With Second National Title Michigan head coach Joe McFarland hoped the rigors of ion against a familiar foe in Iowa's Montell Marion. After seven competitive and grueling minutes, Russell countered an attack by Marion with 23 seconds remaining in the sud- den-death overtime period to capture a 6-4 victory in his final collegiate match. "To see what Kellen did, it was incredible, "He is nothing short of spectacular. The way he was able to handle the pressure, it was almost like there was no pres- sure at all. "To have that kind of focus and confidence, you only see that in elite athletes, and that is exactly what Kellen is." Russell dominated Marion 7-2 March 4 to become the first- " McFarland said. ever four-time Big Ten champion in program history, but it took a little bit of extra work this time around. Russell is at his best, though, when tensions are high. "He is something like 17- or 18-0 in overtime, which is ab- solutely mind boggling for anybody to be able to lock in like that, " McFarland said. "He is just so competitive and able to really focus in on what he needs to do to get the job done." "I was confident the whole time," added Russell, who de- Russell, who is just the sixth wrestler in school history to win multiple national championships, finished his career with a record of 134-12. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS pounds, 1979) and Ryan Bertin (157 pounds, 2003 and 2005) among the Wolverines with multiple national titles, and he's just the fourth to repeat. Senior Zac Stevens also gained valuable points for his feated five consecutive foes on his way to national su- premacy. "I knew what I had to do, and although I didn't do it in regulation it was a situation that I have been in before and one I feel very comfortable in — I didn't get nervous or anything like that. "It being a national title match didn't change my attitude up an All-American was a great thing because he is a great kid, either way. I don't want to lose a match whether it is for the national title or in a dual meet. Especially when I get to overtime, I expect to win." Russell rarely experienced what it felt like to be at the other end of the spectrum, finishing his collegiate career with a dazzling 134-12 record (including a 71-1 record in his final two seasons). Many tried, few conquered. "I think having a target on my back actually helped me, mitted he has been to wrestling and this program over the years — he is a true student-athlete. Russell said. "Guys wrestled me more hesitantly than they have in the past. It caused some of my matches to be closer, but once I realized that I could open up on some of these guys that were a little bit afraid of me, it helped me score more points. ter (heavyweight, 1966 and 1968), Jarrett Hubbard (150 pounds, 1973-74), Mark Churella (150 pounds, 1977-78, 167 Russell joins Snip Nalan (130 pounds, 1953-54), Dave Por- " " great to see him become an All-American his senior year. He is one of the hardest workers on this team." The Wolverines' 11th-place finish marks their best since 2009 (also 11th), but key team points were left on the mat in critical situations. "It is such a competitive tournament, and you run into "I think Zac did exceptionally well," Russell said. "It was truly competitive situations," McFarland said. "We had a couple of guys that were a match or two from becoming All-Americans. You get those guys on that podium, we get placing points and that would have really helped out our team score. "Overall, I think we should've been at least a top-10 team," Russell added. "We only needed one or two more points to break into that group. It was disappointing. " " — Kevin Minor MAY 2012 THE WOLVERINE 71 " McFarland said. "The neat thing about Zac is how com- " team, earning All-America honors after reaching the quar- terfinals of the 133-pound class before getting pinned by top seed Jordan Oliver from Oklahoma State. Stevens finished the tournament seventh in his weight class with a 4-2 record. "To see Zac Stevens go through that tournament and end

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