Wolverines Utilize Strong Start to Defeat No. 10 Illinois

Updated: January 18, 2014

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The No. 16-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team took advantage of a strong start, winning three of the first four bouts, to knock off No. 10 Illinois, 19-13, in its first true road dual of the season on Friday evening (Jan. 17) at Huff Hall. The Wolverines won six individual matches and earned a pair of bonus victories.

Illinois earned a bonus point of its own with a major decision at 174 pounds — the dual’s opening weight class — but the Wolverines rebounded with three straight wins at the upperweights.

Freshman Domenic Abounader (Gates Mills, Ohio/St. Edward HS) initiated the Wolverine surge at 184 pounds, using a late second-period takedown to edge Nikko Reyes, 3-1. After a scoreless first period, Abounader earned a quick escape in the second and scored on a single leg — sealed with a hard tomahawk finish — in the waning seconds of the frame. Reyes escaped in the third but could not penetrate Abounader’s defense as the Wolverine rookie picked up his second straight Big Ten dual win of the season.

Senior/junior Chris Heald (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield HS) also took advantage of a strong second period to break open his 197-pound match against Jeff Koepke, scoring on a quick escape and late single-leg takedown — with cradle finish — before adding two more takedowns in the third to ice a 7-4 decision.

Top-ranked freshman heavyweight Adam Coon (Fowlerville, Mich./Fowlerville HS) was forced to rally after giving up the initial takedown — just the fourth he has allowed this season — against Chris Lopez, but he did so in commanding fashion to roll to a 12-3 major decision. After giving up a contested single leg early in the first, he escaped and quickly shot in on a single leg, driving Lopez to his back for five points. He rode out the second period and scored on two counter takedowns to earn the bonus point and improve to 22-0 on the season.

Illinois won back-to-back matches at 125 and 133 pounds, including a narrow 2-1 decision on a first-period illegal hold call from defending NCAA champion Jesse Delgado in the former bout. The 125-pound match also cost U-M a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The Wolverines again surged ahead with consecutive wins at 141 and 149 pounds. Senior/junior Steve Dutton (Miller Place, N.Y./Rocky Point HS) made his Michigan debut in the former, cruising to a 14-0 major decision over Dominic Olivieri on two takedowns, seven back points and 4:44 riding-time advantage. Fifth-year senior Eric Grajales (Brandon, Fla./Brandon HS), ranked 12th, followed with a strong 8-4 decision over 19th-ranked Caleb Ervin, rallying from an early deficit with a two-point tilt in the second and a takedown off an arm drag early in the third.

The Fighting Illini claimed a tossup match at 157 pounds, where 14th-ranked Zac Brunson used a second-period rideout to earn a 2-0 decision over 15th-ranked freshman Brian Murphy (Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North HS), to narrow the team score, but fifth-year senior Dan Yates (Hesperia, Mich./Hesperia HS) iced it for Michigan, taking advantage of a quick start to knock off 12th-ranked Jackson Morse, 7-3. Yates, ranked seventh, scored on a pair of high-crotch takedowns in the first period and added another off a second-period front headlock.

The Wolverines will return home to host No. 2-ranked Minnesota on Sunday (Jan. 19). The match is slated for a 2 p.m. start at Cliff Keen Arena. Tickets are still available through the U-M Ticket Office.


#19 Michigan 19, #11 Illinois 13
Individual rankings from InterMat

Match Score
174 — Tony Dallago (UI) major dec. Collin Zeerip, 12-1 UI, 4-0
184 — Domenic Abounader (U-M) dec. Nikko Reyes, 3-1 UI, 4-3
197 — Chris Heald (U-M) dec. Jeff Koepke, 7-4 U-M, 6-4
Hwt — #1 Adam Coon (U-M) major dec. Chris Lopez, 12-3 U-M, 10-4
125 — #4 Jesse Delgado (UI) dec. Conor Youtsey, 2-1 U-M, 9-7*
133 — #11 Zane Richards (UI) dec. Rossi Bruno, 7-1 UI, 10-9
141 — Steve Dutton (U-M) major dec. Dominic Olivieri, 14-0 U-M, 13-10
149 — #12 Eric Grajales (U-M) dec. #19 Caleb Ervin, 8-4 U-M, 16-10
157 — #14 Zac Brunson (UI) dec. #15 Brian Murphy, 2-0 U-M, 16-13
165 — #7 Dan Yates (U-M) dec. #12 Jackson Morse, 7-3 U-M, 19-13

* Michigan deducted a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct




• With tonight’s win, Michigan improves to 42-25-1 in the all-time series against Illinois and halts a two-match Illini win streak in the series.

• U-M has won six or more matches in each of its last four duals. The Wolverines have also earned at least one bonus win in every dual this season.

• Fifth-year seniors Eric Grajales (149) and Dan Yates (165) and freshmen Domenic Abouander (184) and Adam Coon(Hwt) all improved to 2-0 in Big Ten competition this year.

• Senior/junior Steve Dutton, who transferred from Lehigh prior to 2012-13, is the seventh different Wolverine wrestler to debut in U-M’s lineup this season. With tonight’s win, he improves to a 51-21 in his collegiate career. Including his perfect 8-0 mark in open-tournament competition last season, Dutton has earned bonus points in every match since arriving at Michigan with four falls, three tech falls and two major decisions.

• Freshman Adam Coon has earned bonus points in nine of his 22 season victories with six pins and three major decisions.


Michigan Assistant Coach Sean Bormet
On the team win … “Illinois has some veteran wrestlers in its lineup, and there were a number of tough matches that we gutted out and won. We didn’t necessarily win in grand fashion, but we won some ugly positions that we had to win and we came out on top in those matches. Those are good ones to win, and they’re not always going to be pretty. It was a bit of an up-and-down dual. But when we were taking control of positions and executing, we were having success. We had some matches that we did that consistently throughout; those were our best matches.”

On feeling somewhat unsatisfied despite winning … “I think that’s a good sign that we’re making progress. We left some points on the mat tonight that nobody’s very happy about. There were a couple of matches that we didn’t wrestle a complete match, but we still won some of those. Illinois has a strong program and a good team. To come down here and leave points on the mat, not wrestle complete matches and still come away with victory, that’s definitely a sign of progress.

“There are still areas that we need to work on. It’s a young team, so some of these areas are changing. But the one consistent thing is the matches where we’re taking control, putting pressure on our opponent and attacking, those are the matches where we have the best outcome. We just need to continue to build and have more consistency with that approach.”

On the loss at 125 pounds … “I thought Conor Youtsey did a great job putting a lot of pressure on [Jesse] Delgado. Unfortunately, there was a penalty point involved in that match. But from the beginning to the end of that match, Conor put an enormous amount of pressure on him, and he really closed the gap on him from the Midlands. Although we didn’t win that one, he wrestled a really solid match.”

On Steve Dutton’s U-M debut … “It was good to see Steve Dutton get a Michigan singlet on and get his hand raised tonight. It was great to see him into our lineup. He’s been working through some adversity. He got to the point where he could train; competition was the next phase. He scored a lot of points and got his hand raised. That’s a good start.”

U-M Senior/Junior Steve Dutton
On his first match coming back from injury … “It’s always tough coming back after taking a while off. I wanted to score as many points as I could. I felt pretty good. No matter who I was wrestling, I felt like I needed to get out there and try to work all my moves. I’ve been off for so long — off the mat and out of competition — I felt that the more I exerted myself now, the easier it will come down the road.”

On contributing to a good team win in his Michigan debut … “It was awesome being back in the lineup and representing Michigan. It felt great knocking off a solid Big Ten team, and I’m looking forward to the next one.”

U-M Senior/Junior Chris Heald
On the strong Michigan start … “I really think that played an important, started us off well and got the team motivated to attack and fight. As a whole, the team was out there brawling. I felt like we were in control throughout the whole dual.”

On his win at 197 pounds … “The guy I wrestled was pretty defensive, pushing into me. After feeling him out a bit, I got a couple takedowns late in the second and third periods to ice the match. I almost had him on his back; I just need to keep practicing there.”

On the team victory … “I think our team has awesome camaraderie. We’re all pretty active on the bench, cheering and supporting our teammates win or lose — either picking them back up and congratulating them. That’s a great attribute of our team, and it’s a lot of fun to travel with these guys. It was a great win on the road tonight.”