Michigan rallies for Big Ten victory over Northwestern

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 18-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team claimed each of the final three matches in knocking off No. 23 Northwestern, 23-13, on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 27) in front of 813 fans at Cliff Keen Arena. The Wolverines earned two bonus victories, including a technical fall at 165 pounds, en route to their first Big Ten Conference win.

Michigan trailed by four points at the intermission, after dropping three of the opening five bouts, before freshman Taylor Massa (St. Johns, Mich./St. Johns HS) posted a dominant 16-0 victory over 16th-ranked Pierce Harger in the 165-pound contest. Massa, ranked 12th in the latest InterMat poll, struck quickly, getting behind Harger and using a headlock to take him straight to his back for five points. He turned him three more times in the first period to build his lead to 14-0. Harger chose top in the second and rode Massa out, but the Wolverine rookie picked up another two-point turn early in the third to end the match at the 5:18 mark.

Northwestern responded with a decision at 174 pounds, where ninth-ranked Lee Munster used a pair of counter takedowns to edge senior/junior captain Dan Yates (Hesperia, Mich./Hesperia HS), 5-4, but the Wolverines took each of the final three matches.

Junior/sophomore Chris Heald (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield HS) scored four points in the final 20 seconds of the 184-pound match, rallying to defeat Jacob Berkowitz, 6-3, for the second dual win of his collegiate career -- and first in Big Ten action. Down by one, Heald attacked throughout the final period, finally striking deep on a late single-leg and locking up a standing cradle. He took the Wildcat wrestler down and rolled him up to tack on two back points at match's end.

Junior/sophomore Max Huntley (Emerald Isle, N.C./Blair Academy) avenged an earlier-season loss and essentially iced the Wolverine victory with a 4-3 decision against 16th-ranked Alex Polizzi at 197 pounds. Huntley finished on a late single-leg takedown in the first period, and the subsequent ride out proved pivotal when Polizzi converted a single leg of his own in the second. The Wolverine wrestler escaped quickly and prevented Polizzi from reaching his legs in the third to close out the match.

Northwestern forfeited the heavyweight contest to end the dual meet.

The Wolverines claimed decisions at 125 and 149 pounds to keep the match close in the first half of the dual. Senior/junior Sean Boyle (Lowell, Mass./Blair Academy) cruised to a 5-0 shutout over 19th-ranked Dominick Malone at 125 pounds behind a second-period front headlock and 2:45 in riding-time advantage.

Northwestern took back-to-back swing matches at 133 and 141 pounds, before senior/junior Eric Grajales (Brandon, Fla./Brandon HS) claimed his fourth straight Big Ten win with an 8-2 decision over Dylan Marriott in the 149-pound contest. Grajales, ranked 11th, jumped out to a big lead on a double-leg takedown and two-point near fall in the first and won an extended scramble to finish another double leg in the second.

Michigan will hit the road next weekend, heading to the Hoosier State for a pair of Big Ten duals. On Friday (Feb. 1), U-M will face Indiana at 7 p.m. at University Gynasium in Bloomington, Ind., before closing out the weekend on Sunday (Feb. 3), taking on Purdue at 1 p.m. at Holloway Gymnasium in West Lafayette, Ind.

125 -- #17 Sean Boyle (U-M) dec. #19 Dominick Malone, 5-0 U-M, 3-0
133 -- Garrison White (NU) dec. Rossi Bruno, 5-3 Tie, 3-3
141 -- Pat Greco (NU) dec. Mike Hillock, 6-4 NU, 6-3
149 -- #11 Eric Grajales (U-M) dec. Dylan Marriott, 8-2 Tie, 6-6
157 -- #2 Jason Welch (NU) major dec. Collin Zeerip, 13-1 NU, 10-6
165 -- #12 Taylor Massa (U-M) tech. fall #16 Pierce Harger, 16-0 (5:18) U-M, 11-10
174 -- #9 Lee Munster (NU) dec. #10 Dan Yates , 5-4 NU, 13-11
184 -- Chris Heald (U-M) dec. Jacob Berkowitz, 6-3 U-M, 14-13
197 -- Max Huntley (U-M) dec. #16 Alex Polizzi, 4-3 U-M, 17-13
Hwt -- #19 Ben Apland (U-M) win by forfeit U-M, 23-13


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