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Coon Downs Defending NCAA Champ, Seals Win over No. 2 Gophers
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Freshman heavyweight Adam Coon (Fowlerville, Mich./Fowlerville HS) used an overtime takedown to knock off two-time defending NCAA champion Tony Nelson and seal the No. 16-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team’s 19-14 victory over No. 2 Minnesota on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 19) in front of 1,354 fans at Cliff Keen Arena. The Wolverines won six individual matches in the dual, improving to 3-0 in Big Ten Conference competition, while dealing Minnesota its first loss of the season.
With just two points separating the teams, the dual came down to the final match, featuring the nation’s top heavyweights — No. 1 Coon and No. 2 Nelson. The wrestlers traded escapes in regulation and the first tiebreaker, neither riding for longer than 10 seconds. Coon got in deep on several shots earlier in the contest but scored his winning takedown off a counter attack in the second sudden-victory frame, turning the corner on a Nelson double leg to claim the match 4-2. He improved to 23-0 on the season.
The Wolverines jumped out to a significant early advantage, claiming five of the first six matches to lead 16-3 entering Minnesota’s gauntlet of ranked upperweights. Among the early victories, Michigan earned back-to-back upsets from fifth-year senior Eric Grajales (Brandon, Fla./Brandon HS) and freshman Brian Murphy (Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North HS)at 149 and 157 pounds, respectively, to put U-M in excellent shape at the intermission break.
Grajales, ranked 12th at 149, took advantage of a big early lead to knock off No. 2-ranked Nick Dardanes, 6-4. The Wolverine senior struck first on an arm spin midway through the first period and rode out the rest of the period and all of the second. He added a penalty point in the third before giving up a pair of late takedowns in the waning moments that narrowed the final score.
Murphy, ranked 15th, rallied from an initial deficit against eighth-ranked Dylan Ness at 157, scoring takedowns in the second and third periods to seal a 5-2 decision. After a scoreless first period, Ness grabbed the first lead with a quick escape in the second and subsequent low single-leg takedown. Muprhy escaped and shot in on a late single-leg attack of his own, limp-arming out of a whizzer to get the takedown at the buzzer. With the score deadlocked, Murphy choose neutral in the third and countered a late Ness single-leg shot to score the winning takedown in the final 10 seconds of the match.
The Wolverines also earned early wins from sophomore/freshman Conor Youtsey (Parma, Mich./Mason HS) and senior/junior Steve Dutton (Miller Place, N.Y./Rocky Point HS) at 125 and 141 pounds, respectively. Youtsey jumped out to a big early lead en route to a 12-6 decision against Sam Brancale in the opening match, scoring two takedowns and a pair of back points — off a head scoop — in the first period. He rode out the second and earned a reversal and three-point near fall in the third but gave up a late counter takedown and back points to lose the bonus point.
Dutton also cruised in his 141-pound match against Josh Shupe, scoring three takedowns and eight back points, including a pair of three-point tilts, en route to a 16-3 major decision. Dutton appeared to have the technical fall in hand but had to take injury late, which cost him an escape point. Dutton, who made his Michigan debut last Friday at Illinois (Jan. 17), improved to 2-0 in the Wolverine lineup.
Michigan came out of the intermission break with a win from fifth-year senior Dan Yates (Hesperia, Mich./Hesperia HS) at 165 pounds. The Wolverine senior, ranked seventh, scored on two first-period takedowns and rode for 2:38 en route to a 7-5 decision over Brandon Kingsley.
The Gophers won three straight matches at the upperweights, earning bonus points at 174 and 197 pounds, to pull within two points on the scoreboard and set up the Coon-Nelson finale at heavyweight.