Jan. 21, 2011

Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Cliff Keen Arena)
Score: No. 13 Michigan 22, No. 12 Northwestern 12
Records: NU (14-1, 2-1 Big Ten), Michigan (7-2, 2-0 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Sunday, Jan. 23 at Michigan State ? East Lansing, Mich. ? 1 p.m. CT

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- No. 12 Northwestern captured back-to-back wins to start the match and held a 12-6 lead at the intermission, but No. 13 Michigan proved tough at the upper weights as the Wolverines won a 22-12 dual decision Friday night at Cliff Keen Arena. Wildcat sophomore Jason Welch led NU with an 18-3 tech fall win at 157 pounds, his team-best sixth tech fall of the season.

The loss is Northwestern's first in dual competition since Feb. 19 of last year. NU (14-1, 2-1 Big Ten) has a chance to rebound at 1 p.m. Sunday when it faces Michigan State in East Lansing.

"Everybody on our team from the wrestlers to the coaching staff made too many mistakes tonight to beat a good team like Michigan," said Wildcat head coach Drew Pariano. "A few of those mistakes were early on in matches that put us in tough situations and others were down the stretch where we expect to be better than our opponents. I expect us to come out with much better focus against Michigan State Sunday."

NU won three of the first five matches Friday night beginning with a 16-3 major decision by the Wildcats' No. 1-ranked Brandon Precin over the Wolverines' Sean Boyle. Precin shook off a slow start with back points en route to an 8-0 lead and went on to remain unbeaten at 24-0 on the year.

One of the evening's key matchups came at 133 pounds where NU's Levi Mele squared off with a former NCAA qualifier in Michigan's Zac Stevens. After a scoreless first period, Mele tallied first with an escape to begin the second and worked for a takedown shortly after. Mele did well to ride out the period, assuring himself of an important riding time advantage. Stevens escaped to make it 3-1, but Mele turned an errant Stevens shot into a takedown on the edge of the mat to go up 5-1.



Mele continued to battle hard down the stretch and held on for an 8-3 decision, giving the `Cats a 7-0 lead while improving to 2-1 in Big Ten duals. Michigan then sent out its No. 1-ranked 141-pounder, two-time Big Ten champion Kellen Russell, to face Wildcat true freshman Kaleb Friedley. Friedley made the Wolverine work hard for every takedown and never surrendered back points, limiting Russell to a 7-3 decision victory.

The 149-pound bout pitted the 'Cats' 11th-ranked Andrew Nadhir and his unbeaten dual record against Michigan's Eric Grajales. The Wolverine caught Nadhir seeking a takedown in the first period and turned it into a `2' plus back points, bringing a 6-2 lead into the second. The score remained 6-3 in Grajales' favor entering the third, where Nadhir cut him in search of a takedown. It was to no avail, however, and Grajales withstood Nadhir's efforts down the stretch to take an 11-5 decision.

The loss was Nadhir's first in a dual match this season (14-1).

Northwestern sent its third ranked wrestler of the night to the mat as No. 7 Jason Welch took on Michigan's Brandon Zeerip at 157 pounds. Welch came out with plenty of energy with bonus points as his goal, recording one three-point near-fall en route to a 9-2 lead in the second. Leading 15-3 and with a tech fall in sight, Welch battled for one more single-leg with one minute remaining, putting him in line for the five team points thanks to his 3:35 worth of riding time.

Looking for a boost out of the intermission, Northwestern got one from sophomore Kevin Bialka at 165 as he notched a quick takedown of Michigan's Dan Yates. He held on to that 2-0 lead in the second and was in with full hold of Yates' leg headed for another takedown when Yates eluded the score and quickly turned it into a takedown of his own. After Yates added back points for a 5-2 lead, the Wolverine remained strong on top and closed out the match by the same score.

Michigan's Justin Zeerip came out strong against Northwestern's Robert Kellogg, gaining a 6-0 lead thanks in part to several tough stalling calls against Kellogg. The NU junior could not generate any offense down the stretch as Zeerip won a 10-1 major decision for the Wolverines, giving them their first lead at 13-12.

NU's Aaron Jones met Michigan's Hunter Collins at 184 pounds in a rematch of the seventh-place match at the 2010 Big Ten Championships, which Collins won in sudden victory. Things were equally tight Friday night, with the action tied at two in the second despite Jones nearing takedowns on multiple single-leg shots. Still tied with less than a minute remaining, Collins won the match by catching a headlock and scoring three near-fall points, with the final score showing 7-3.

Michigan fell back on two ranked competitors in the last two bouts, beginning with No. 13 Anthony Biondo against NU's John Schoen. Schoen denied all attempts by Biondo to score on offense and trailed just 1-0 on a Biondo escape into the third period. Schoen evened the score with hard-fought escape of his own, but with less than 45 seconds to go, it was Biondo who finally finished a takedown to win 3-1 and clinch the dual for the Wolverines. Schoen moved to 15-6 on the year with the loss.

At heavyweight it was Northwestern's Ben Kuhar facing 10th-ranked Ben Apland, fighting his way to a 2-2 tie in the second. Apland notched a late takedown in the period and began with an escape in the third to go up 6-3. Kuhar's shots in the final minute were turned aside by Apland, who won 7-3 thanks to a riding time advantage.

Northwestern's weekend-long road trip continues with a match at 1 p.m. CT at Michigan State.

#13 Michigan 22, #12 Northwestern 12
125: #1 Brandon Precin (NU) maj. dec. Sean Boyle (MI), 16-3 (NU 4, MI 0)
133: Levi Mele (NU) dec. Zac Stevens (MI), 8-3 (NU 7, MI 0)
141: #1 Kellen Russell (MI) dec. Kaleb Friedley (NU), 7-3 (NU 7, MI 3)
149: Eric Grajales (MI) dec. #11 Andrew Nadhir (NU), 11-5 (NU 7, MI 6)
157: #7 Jason Welch (NU) Tech Fall Brandon Zeerip (MI), 18-3 (7:00) (NU 12, MI 6)
165: Dan Yates (MI) dec. Kevin Bialka (NU), 5-2 (NU 12, MI 9)
174: Justin Zeerip (MI) maj. dec. Robert Kellogg (NU), 10-1 (MI 13, NU 12)
184: Hunter Collins (MI) dec. Aaron Jones (NU), 7-3 (MI 16, NU 12)
197: #13 Anthony Biondo (MI) dec. John Schoen (NU), 3-1 (MI 19, NU 12)
285: #10 Ben Apland (MI) dec. Ben Kuhar (NU), 7-3 (MI 22, NU 12)

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