The Wolverine

February 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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FEBRUARY 2018 THE WOLVERINE 65 BY AUSTIN FOX M ichigan's wrestling squad has gotten off to a fast start in 2017‑18, posting a 7‑2 re‑ cord and a 4‑1 mark in Big Ten play while achieving a No. 8 rank‑ ing in the Jan. 16 National Wrestling Coaches Association coaches poll. In fact, the Wolverines were just one of two schools in the entire coun‑ try — North Carolina State being the other — to have all 10 of their starters listed in the Jan. 19 NCAA Division I wrestling coaches' panel rankings. Fifth‑year senior Adam Coon was the highest of the bunch, checking in as the No. 2 heavyweight in the country. Four others were ranked among the nation's top six at their weight class: redshirt sophomore Stevan Micic was No. 6 at 133 pounds, redshirt junior Alec Pantaleo was No. 5 at 157, redshirt sophomore Logan Massa was No. 5 at 165, redshirt sophomore Myles Amine was No. 6 at 174 and fifth‑year senior Domenic Abounader was No. 4 at 184. Nineteenth‑year head coach Joe McFarland thinks the best is yet to come for his Wolverines. "It's been going well," he said. "We haven't done everything we set out to do yet, but we've had a tough schedule. We've gotten through some bumps and bruises, and our team seems to be really settling in now. "We're looking forward to a re‑ ally good stretch coming up. … It's a really close‑knit group of guys — they're all such great workers, and I've been so impressed with how they've all bonded." McFarland admitted that one wres‑ tler who isn't among the top‑ranked competitors on the team, however, has really exceeded his expectations. "I think Drew Mattin at 125 [pounds], just because he's a fresh‑ man," McFarland explained. "We knew what he was capable of, but he's done such a great job of battling. He competed right out of the gate at the [Cliff Keen Las] Vegas Invita‑ tional [Dec. 1‑2] with some of the best guys in the country. "He's a tireless worker and loves to train — he's just a mat rat." Mattin, who was ranked No. 13 by the coaches Jan. 19, avenged a loss earlier in the year to No. 4 Ethan Lizak of Minnesota with a 4‑2 over‑ time victory in a 30‑7 road victory over the No. 13 Gophers Jan. 21. However, the highlight of U‑M's season so far came at Indiana Jan. 5, when the Maize and Blue picked up a 43‑0 victory over the Hoosiers. The Wolverines claimed all 10 bouts and earned bonus points in seven of them, en route to their first shutout of a conference foe since 1974. "It was great," McFarland recalled. "That was actually our second shut‑ out in a row, because we had blanked Oregon State [48‑0 Dec. 10] right be‑ fore the holiday break. "To do that in the conference, though, was impressive. Our guys wrestled really well down there in Bloomington that day." U‑M followed up its Indiana shutout with consecutive victories over No. 24 Purdue and Princeton, respectively, before falling to Penn State Jan. 12. A 29‑10 win over No. 21 Wisconsin Jan. 19 put the Wolverines back in the win column, before the dominant win over the Gophers. The upcoming slate only gets tougher — four of the last five du‑ als will come against top‑20 squads, including No. 2 Ohio State and No. 4 Iowa — and McFarland touched on what his team needs to do to con‑ tinue its upward trajectory. "We've got some tough duals coming up in the Big Ten, so it's im‑ portant for our guys to really focus in," he explained. "They need to be adamant about getting that first take‑ down and getting momentum on our side. We need to be ready to step on the mat and attack right away. "We can't ease into any matches, because it sets a tone when we come out strong. In that Penn State dual [Jan. 12], for example, all the winners of those 10 matches scored the first takedown, so that goes to show you how important it is." The U‑M coach added the goals for his team remain as high as ever. The conference meet will be held March 3‑4 in East Lansing, Mich., while na‑ tionals are in Cleveland March 15‑17. "We want to win out in the rest of our Big Ten duals," McFarland confirmed. "We want to have the best Big Ten Championship and na‑ tional championship possible, and be a team up on the podium at the NCAA Championships collecting some hardware.   OLYMPIC SPORTS UPDATE Fifth-year senior and two-time All-American heavyweight wrestler Adam Coon was ranked No. 2 nationally with a 16-0 mark as of Jan. 21. PHOTO BY SAM JANICKI Winter Teams Experience Early Success Wrestling Is Looking To Continue Its Winning Ways

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