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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Senior/junior captain Kellen Russell (High Bridge, N.J./Blair Academy) captured the 141-pound individual title to confirm his No. 1 national ranking and pace the No. 15-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team to fourth place (132 points) on the second and final day of the Southern Scuffle on Thursday (Dec. 30) at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Wolverines, who boasted eight total placewinners, finished just a half point behind third-place Oregon State, while Cornell and Penn State shared the team honors with 147.5 points.
Russell defeated a pair of top-10 opponents en route to the 141-pound crown, including a 6-2 decision — his most lopsided win of the day — against Minnesota’s No. 2-ranked Mike Thorn in the championship bout. Russell struck quickly, converting on a duck under about a minute into the first period before riding out the frame. He escaped in the second to pad his lead to 3-0 and scored on a double leg in the third to ice the match.
Russell won a nailbiter in the semifinal round, using a late takedown to overcome an early deficit against No. 9-ranked Andrew Alton of Penn State. The Nittany Lion earned a second-period takedown and, after a quick escape in the third, held onto a one-point advantage until the final 25 seconds when the Wolverine captain hit a winning duck under and rode out the match to claim a 4-3 decision. Russell is a perfect 16-0 on the season.
Junior/sophomore Ben Apland (Woodridge, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) lost a heartbreaker in the heavyweight championship, falling to Penn State’s sixth-ranked — and top-seeded — Cameron Wade, 4-2, on a late turn. Apland entered the final period in the driver’s seat after countering a Wade shot in the first and scrambling for the initial takedown. Down by one, Wade chose top to start the third and rode out the period, earning a two count in the final 15 seconds for a pair of back points and the win.
In the morning session, Apland pinned VMI’s Josh Wine at 3:41 in his semifinal match to earn his second fall of the tournament, taking Wine over with a cradle before settling back into a Grapevine with two legs in and a half. He won a closer affair against Indiana’s 20th-ranked Ricky Alcala in the quarterfinals, using a second-period rideout and a third-period escape to eke out a 2-0 decision. It was Apland’s second win over Alcala of the season.