The Michigan Wolverines Wrestling team ended up their season with an 11th place finish at the NCAA Championships, a 4th place finish at the Big Ten tournament, and five All-Americans. The season was an up & down season that had some injuries and challenges, but their March tournament showing proved that this team is part of a program on the upswing.
Michigan brought a representative in all ten weights, and of these ten guys, eight of them are freshmen and sophomores. Just one junior and one senior were the upperclassmen representatives of a team that just had a very successful season. One of the looming themes was injuries this year which seemed to make this March that much more important for an overall positive momentum for the program heading forward.
The big question this off-season will be potential redshirts. Bruno, Pantaleo, Murphy, Sutton, Abounader, and Coon have not had a redshirt season. It's very rare for wrestlers to wrestle 4-straight seasons without a redshirt season. Logic also tells you that runner-up heavyweight, Adam Coon would like to redshirt for the Olympic year that is next season. Could Michigan have a season where all the previously mentioned guys redshirt to load up for the 2016-17 season? I think it's very plausible and even non-Michigan based wrestling writers are thinking it's likely to happen. There is also the question of the overall #2 recruit coming in next year, Logan Massa. If there is the big load up for 2016-17, Logan Massa probably figures to be a part of that lineup somewhere. We will go through the weights here to recap and look forward.
125- Conor Youtsey (Redshirt Sophomore)
- Youtsey redshirted his 1st season out of high school so he will look to improve on his All-American 6th place finish this next season. He started off with some disappointing finishes in the open tournaments, but then continued to look better during the dual season. He finished 5th at the Big Tens and then made a great run at the NCAA's including an overtime win over Joey Dance (Virginia Tech) in the blood round. Youtsey will be in the mix next year as he proved he can knock anyone off in the country.
133- Rossi Bruno (True Junior)
- Bruno was able to finish 8th at the NCAA's for his first All-American honor after just falling a win short in his sophomore season. 133 was the toughest weight in the Big Ten and Bruno was in the mix all season. It was great to see him really take a step forward this season and be that top ten guy all year long. Now it'll be interesting to see if he redshirts this upcoming season or not. I assumed he would this year and Fisher would wrestle 133, but Coach McFarland declared before the season that his best lineup would wrestle. I doubt he will have that thought next year, but I'm not making the decisions. Whether Bruno wrestles next season or the season after for his Senior campaign, he really could & should be a top five guy all season.
141- George Fisher (Redshirt Freshman)
- Fisher is listed on the roster as a 133/141, and I thought he would wrestle 133 this year while Bruno redshirted. Instead, he filled in for returning AA Stephen Dutton when injuries ended his career prematurely. Fisher placed in the Cliff Keen & Southern Scuffle tournaments but dropped both of his matches at the NCAA tournament. The heralded recruit showed his talent with wins over ranked guys at times this year despite appearing to give up some size. Maybe next season is the one he fills in for Bruno at 133 or he may return at 141. Either way there is a lot of potential for Fisher and he is a fun wrestler to watch.
149- Alec Pantaleo (True Freshman)
- Pantaleo was a breakout start for Michigan after beating out Latora for the starting spot. He burst on the scene by taking 2nd place at the Cliff Keen and posted a 7-2 record in Big Ten duals. He took 4th at the Big Tens and earned a 6 seed at the NCAA's. He had a couple wins after falling in a 1st round upset, but finished 2 wins shy of being an All-American. It was a hell of a freshman campaign for any freshman, and the maize & blue have to be excited for this kid's future. He speed and strength are shown often making him very fun to watch. It's another question of when the redshirt will happen for Pantaleo, but he has already established himself as a top-ten contender going forward.
157- Brian Murphy (True Sophomore)
- Murphy is a great scrambler who finished in 7th place for his first All-American finish. He got off to a slow start in the season which was surprising after being ranked almost the entirety of his freshman season. Murphy then got momentum going during the difficult Big Ten dual season gaining a 5th place finish at the Big Ten tournament. Murphy has appeared to never need a redshirt season adapting to college wrestling immediately, but if McFarland wants to load up for 2016-17 we may see him on the side for a year as well. 157 did see a lot of graduation so one would expect Murphy to be a top five guy immediately next season.
165- Garrett Sutton (True Freshman)
- The Illinois recruit came out of redshirt late in the season and despite being seeded 12th at the Big Ten tournament, he finished 6th for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. He is a 2-time Illinois State Champ who has tons of potential. I wouldn't be surprised to see him back in the lineup next year for a full time shot.
174- Taylor Massa (Redshirt Sophomore)
- The former #1 recruit spent most of the year at 165 and then moved up to 174 citing weight cutting as the reason. He looked better in his time at 174 at the Big Ten tournament, but then went a disappointing 1-2 at the NCAA tournament. That included a 6-0 loss to Frank Cousins (Wisconsin) whom he dominated twice at the Big Ten tournament. For what ever reason (or combination of them), Massa was never able to get anything going this season. At times he does show the potential everyone knows he has, but the results haven't been there yet. A new season is probably a welcome idea for him and the coaching staff to get on track and stop talking potential and start talking about results.
184- Domenic Abounader (True Sophomore)
- Abounader's season was highlighted when he won the Big Ten championship. He did not place at the NCAA's for the second year in a row. Abounader was coming off of injury early in the season and it took him a while to get going, but for the 2nd year in a row he did his best wrestling at the Big Ten tournament. If there is a run on redshirts, it would make sense he would be involved. I think it gets lost that he has had so much success as a true freshman & sophomore when most upper weights really need that year to bulk up. He is right there with the top guys in his weight already and that is really impressive.
197- Max Huntley (Redshirt Senior)
- The only senior in the lineup, Huntley finished his career with a trip to the All-American podium. It was great to see the captain do it. 197 was a really tough weight class and Huntley hung right in there with the top guys all season long coming off a season lost to injury the year before. It's nice to only graduate one guy from your lineup, but Huntley leaves big shoes to fill on the mat and in the locker room.
285- Adam Coon (True Sophomore)
- Coon finished his year losing 7-6 in the NCAA Finals to 2-time champ Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State). It was a great season and hard to remember Coon was wrestling in high school just a couple seasons ago. Due to the success internationally in freestyle and greco, it makes sense Coon redshirts in the year leading up to the Olympic trials for experience more than anything. Coon is 64-10 in his career so far, and his goals will be nothing less than national championships his last two seasons.
In the mix:
174- Davonte Mahomes (True Freshman)
- After Jordan Thomas retired from injury, Michigan turned to the Illinois state champ to start at 174. His first loss was an overtime loss to Logan Storley in Vegas at the Cliff Keen. Mahomes knocked off several ranked guys and was nearing a top ten ranking before tearing his ACL and being lost for the season. The silver lining is that he was still eligible to redshirt not losing a year of eligibility. If everyone is healthy, the development of Mahomes creates a bit of a logjam in the upper weights the next couple seasons that will be interesting to see how it sorts out. Any way you slice it though a healthy Mahomes will be in the lineup and ranked highly.
141- Zach Hall (True Freshman)
- Hall won the Edinboro & Alma opens in his redshirt season finishing the year with a 16-3 record. He is a 4-time Michigan state champion and a kid with a ton of potential. If Bruno redshirts & Fisher can make 133, expect Hall to be the starter at 141 and an immediate factor next season.
197- Richie Sisti (True Freshman)
- Sisti is a 2-time New York state champ who went 5-3 in limited action during his redshirt season. Intermat ranked him as the #13 220lb recruit. He will likely compete for Huntley's spot next year.
149- Angelo Latora (Redshirt Sophomore)
- Latora lost the best 2 of 3 to Pantaleo for the spot. He did fill in for him in the Duke & Pittsburgh duals at the end of the season. Latora is a Michigan state champ and 4-time placer. He can score a lot of points and it'll be interesting to see him possibly get a chance next season.
184- Ayoola Olapo (Reshirt Freshman)
- Olapo appeared in a few duals this year for the injured Abounader, and I would expect him to be the starter of Abounader redshirts. Olapo is a tremendous athlete who took 2nd place his senior year in Wisconsin despite not wrestling a match before his sophomore year of high school. He is making quick progress and could be really fun to watch next year as the starter.
157/165- Logan Massa (High School Senior)
- Logan Massa has won just about everything you can win in high school including his 3rd state championship just a few weeks ago. He did it at the 171, but spent most of last summer competing at 154 & 160. He is the #2 overall recruit ranked by Intermat, and he is projected at 157/165.