Michigan Grappler's 2011-2012 College Preview

With the college season underway, Michigan Grappler has given wrestling fans in the state of Michigan a quick run-down of each Division 1 team in the state that includes who they have coming back, who they lose, and what new faces might make an impact.  Read below for a full breakdown of Michigan, Michigan State, Central Michigan, and Eastern Michigan.

Team Rankings reflect NCWA Preseason Poll
Individual Rankings reflect most recent InterMat Poll

University of Michigan
Pre-Season National Ranking - #7
Last Year – 11-5 (5-3 Big Ten), 15th in NCAA, 5th in Big Ten
Returning NCAA Qualifiers – Sean Boyle (125), Zac Stevens (133), Kellen Russell (141),
Eric Grajales (149), Dan Yates (165), Justin Zeerip (174), Ben Apland (285)
Key Losses – Anthony Biondo (197)
Impact Newcomers – Jake Salazar (157), Max Huntley (197)

Projected Lineup:
125 – #12 Sean Boyle
133 – #13 Zac Stevens
141 – #1 Kellen Russell
149 – #9 Eric Grajales
157 – Brandon Zeerip
165 – Dan Yates
174 – #11 Justin Zeerip
184 – Hunter Collins
197 – Max Huntley
285 – #13 Ben Apland

Recruiting Round-Up – The Wolverines brought in a solid recruiting class that will add depth to their lineup and could eventually produce some solid starters for them, however, it does not appear that anyone from this year’s incoming class of recruits will see time in the Wolverine lineup, that returns nearly everybody.  Four Michigan State Champs – Cam Jackson (141), Connor Branchaue (165), Ben Ralston (174), and Justin Dozier (285) highlight the class.

2011-12 Season Outlook
The Wolverines come off one of the most exciting off-seasons in recent history as they bolstered their coaching staff with the two of the most highly sought after coaches in the country – Donny Pritzlaff and Sean Bormet, and then landed a few of the best recruits in the country this fall, which will be joining the Maize and Blue next season.  In addition to the new coaches on staff, a fleet of Olympic level athletes have re-located to Ann Arbor and are now training everyday with the Michigan wrestling team.  It will be interesting to see what kind of dividends the new faces in Ann Arbor prove to have as Head Coach Joe McFarland returns a solid group of starters from last year headlined by NCAA Champion Kellen Russell.
While Russell is the only returning All-American, Eric Grajales and Sean Boyle were both a match from placing at the NCAA Tournament last year and should both be in position to move to the podium this year.  Fellow returning NCAA Qualifiers Zac Stevens, Dan Yates, Justin Zeerip, and Ben Apland give a tremendous amount of experience and returning success to this lineup.  The only newbie in the lineup could be Max Huntley at 197lbs, who is the front runner to replace senior captain Anthony Biondo.  Huntley, who hails from Blair Academy, comes off a redshirt year and was a big time recruit for the Wolverines a couple years ago who could fill in nicely at 197.
The future is very bright for Wolverine fans as they have the pedigree to contend for NCAA titles in the coming years, however, the present doesn’t look so bad either with a very talented and experienced team that should benefit from some pretty darn good coaching and training partners.

Michigan State University
Pre-Season National Ranking – NR
Last Year – 9-9 (1-8 Big Ten), 43rd in NCAA, 11th in Big Ten
Returning NCAA Qualifiers –Dan Osterman (149), Curran Jacobs (174), Tyler Dickensen
(197), Joe Rizgallah (285)
Key Losses – None
Impact Newcomers –Brandon Fifield (133), Terry Turner (133), Zac Corcoran (141), Brian
Gibbs (141), Roger Wildmo (149)

Projected Lineup:
125 – Eric Olanowski
133 – Brandon Fifield/Terry Turner
141 – Brian Gibbs/Zac Corcoran
149 – #20 Dan Osterman
157 – #15David Cheza/Anthony Jones
165 – Jones/Cheza
174 – Curran Jacobs
184 – Ian Hinton
197 – #16 Tyler Dickensen
285 – #14 Mike McClure/Joe Rizgallah/Steve Andrus

Recruiting Round-Up – The Spartans brought in a solid recruiting class this year, headlined by 3x State Champ and Michigan Grappler High School Wrestler of the Year Roger Wildmo.  Wildmo, who was the #33 recruit in the country last year, was a FloNational and Super 32 Champ as a senior.  He has already shown his promise by dominating a tough field at the EMU last weekend en route to the 149lb title.  With MSU’s depth at his weight and returning NCAA Qualifier Dan Osterman, there is a good chance that Wildmo will redshirt this year, but if called upon he could be ready to make noise on the national scene right away.  The rest of their very large recruiting class was headlined by two other Michigan State Champs, Zac Corcoran (141) and Brandon Fifield (133).  Fifield, along with Davison, MI all-stater Terry Turner, will battle for starting time at 133 this year and Corcoran, along with MI State Runners-Up Joe Johnson and Brian Gibbs, will also be the best bets at 141 to start.  We will not have to wait long to see this year’s recruiting class in action, but in the long term Wildmo could be something special in the next couple years for MSU.

2011-2012 Season Outlook:
While Michigan State does not come off an overly impressive season last year, they return their entire starting lineup, which includes 4 returning NCAA Qualifiers.  In addition, they return a pair of 2010 NCAA Qualifiers who missed last year with injury – Anthony Jones and David Cheza.  In addition, 184lber Ian Hinton qualified for the NCAA Tournament his freshman and sophomore seasons at 174 and 125lber Eric Olanowski was a NCAA Qualifier three years ago as well, giving the Spartans a total of 8 wrestlers in their lineup who have qualified for the National Tournament in their career.  In addition to their National tournament experience, Coach Tom Minkel will have a ton of upperclassmen in the lineup who have been through the Big Ten meat grinder a few times.  Olanowski, Cheza, Jones, Jacobs, Hinton, and Dickensen are all seniors who give great leadership to this year’s Spartan squad.
The key for the Green and White this year will be getting all these guys back to The Dance in March and finding a way to push a couple guys through to the all-american rounds.  Jones was a match away from placing two years ago and may the best bet to get to the podium this year, however, Cheza, Hinton, Dickensen, Rizgallah have also won matches at the NCAA Tournament and are capable of making a run this year.  The Spartans will be very young at 133/141, however, from 149 on up they are going to be pretty solid at every weight with guys who could do big things.

Central Michigan University
Pre-Season National Ranking – #23
Last Year – 8-8 (4-1 MAC), 13th in NCAA, 1st in MAC
Returning NCAA Qualifiers –ScottiSentes (133), Donnie Corby (149), Ben
Bennett (174),  Jarod Trice (285), Peter Sturgeon (285)
Key Losses – Mike Miller (165)
Impact Newcomers –Peter Sturgeon (285), Nick Hodgkins (149), Zach Horan
(125), Jared Porter (149)

Projected Lineup:
125 – Joe Roth/Zach Horan
133 – Christian Cullinan/Tyler Keselring
141 –#20 Scott Mattingly
149 – Nick Hodgkins/Ben Matthieson/Jared Porter
157 – #20 Donnie Corby
165 – Zack Cline/Dakota Cooley/Anthony Pace
174 – Ryan Quinn/Mike Ottinger/Anthony Bill
184 – #9 Ben Bennett
197 – Chad Friend
285 – #15 Peter Sturgeon

Recruiting Roundup – Tom Borelli and the Chippewas brought in without doubt one of the most star-studded recruiting classes in the country and probably the best pound-for-pound group that CMU has ever seen. Time will tell what this group can do in Mt Pleasant, but we may see some of them in the Maroon and Gold this year.  Big time PA recruits Zach Horan, Nick Hodgkins, and Mike Ottinger headline the class along with Illinois State Champ and Top 100 recruit Joey Kielbasa.  Top 100 Recruit and very talented big man Devin Pommerenke headlines the in-state talent which also features All-Staters Sam Hanau, Jackson Lewis, and Kyle Fisher among others.  It will be interesting to see what Borelli does with these guys right away, as Horan (125), Hodgkins (149), and Ottinger (174) all could have the ability to start for the Chipps this year and be competitive in the MAC.  With this being somewhat of a young, down year for CMU, Borelli may opt to redshirt the whole clan in preparation for the years to come.

2011-2012 Season Outlook:
Coming off a MAC Championship last year with three returning All-Americans and one of the best recruiting classes coming in, you would expect this to be another strong year for the Chippewas.  However, two of their returning All-Americans, ScottiSentes and Jarod Trice, appear to be taking redshirt years and it looks like many of their big recruits will be doing the same.  This should make for a pretty special CMU team next year, however, it will make things interesting this year. 
Certain parts of the lineup are up in the air, but a few spots are very solidified.  2x All-American Ben Bennett moves up to 184lbs where is ranked #9 and should be a force to be reckoned with.  Returning NCAA Qualifier Donnie Corby moves up a weight as well, going to 157 and he is primed for a breakout season after finishing strong at 149 last year.  Scott Mattingly is the man again at 141 after a MAC runner-up finish last year and a very promising freshman campaign.  In addition, Peter Sturgeon is a transfer from UNC-Greensboro who qualified for the NCAA tournament last year and has already made waves with big wins at the EMU Open.  These four are the core guys that CMU will lean on heavily this year to provide stability and all four are capable of scoring points at the NCAA tournament.  They will need a couple guys to break through and join Bennett in the all-american rounds this year if they want to finish high at the Dance.
The other 6 weights are a little less solid, however, Borelli does have talented kids at most of those weights who could win a lot of matches and qualify for the National Tournament.  Zach Horan and Nick Hodgkins, if given the nod, could both be very competitive as true freshman as they come in with as much experience and national success as you will find in a new recruit.  Expect to see some guys shuffle in and out of a few different weights this year for Central, but also expect to see their core guys carry the load and keep them in the mix to compete for another MAC Title. 

Eastern Michigan University
Pre-Season National Ranking – NR
Last Year – 11-11 (0-5 MAC), 65th in NCAA, 6th MAC
Returning NCAA Qualifiers –Aaron Sulzer (157)
Key Losses – David Wade (285)
Impact Newcomers –Chris Rau (133), Mike Curby (184)

Projected Lineup:
125 – Jared Germaine
133 – Andrew Novak
141 – Corey Phillips/Seth Schaner/Chris Rau
149 – JaylynBohl
157 – Aaron Sulzer
165 – Lester France
174 – Philip Joseph
184 – Mike Curby
197 – Nick Whitenburg
285 – Wes Schroeder

Recruiting Roundup – Delporto and company brought in another solid group of recruits this year headlined by three Michigan State Champs – Anthony Abro, Chris Rau, and Justin Melick.  All three of these guys have the ability to be very competitive in the MAC for EMU in the very near future, however, it appears that all three may be redshirting this year.  Vinnie Pizuto of Ohio (125) and Mike Shaw of Allegan, MI (157) never won state titles, but are both really talented wrestlers who could end up finding themselves in the Eagle lineup down the road.

2011-2012 Season Outlook:
After a rough season a year ago, the Eagles will look to rebound with a very experienced and talented group of returners.   Aaron Sulzer (157) is the lone returning NCAA Qualifier, however, Jared Germaine (125), Andrew Novak (133), Lester France (165), Philip Joseph (174), and Nick Whitenburg (197) have all proven that they can beat top tier guys.  If those guys can add more consistency to their performances they all have a good shot at contending in the MAC this year and getting to the NCAA Tournament. France had a great showing at the EMU Open where he beat a couple nationally ranked guys and showed that he can make some noise this year.  The Eagles need a few guys like him to really step up this year and compete nationally and if that happens they may be able to start climbing the ladder in the MAC and at the NCAA Tournament. 
141, 184, and 285 will feature new faces this year.  A platoon of guys will compete for time at 141, most notably experienced senior Corey Phillips.  Redshirt Freshman Mike Curby is a promising recruit for EMU who will look to make some noise this year and Wes Schroeder had some success at heavyweight last year but did not compete at the MAC tournament.  There really are no gaping holes in this EMU lineup, the question now is who will step up for them and crack the top 20, compete for a MAC title, and win matches at the NCAA tournament?

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Kellen Russell
David Cheza
Ben Bennett
Lester France