14A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, December 2, 1999
McFarland, now at the top, aims to lead 'M' there as well
Michigan's first-year wrestling coach wants to win it all
By Dan Williams
Daily Sports Writer
It was obvious that Joe McFarland
felt strong ties to the Michigan
wrestling program when he returned
to his alma mater as an assistant
.oach six years ago.
The former Wolverine grappler
left a head coaching position at
Indiana to become an assistant coach
't Michigan, hoping that he would
ventually take over the wrestling
"This is where I eventually really
wanted to take over," McFarland
laid. "I love the University and the
-ommunity. It's a special place."
Last year, when Dale Bahr retired
ifter 21 seasons, McFarland got his
avish. McFarland, who wrestled for
3ahr in the early 1980s, was named
In his final year, Bahr led the
Wolverines to a 13th-place finish
"I learned an awful lot from
Bahr)," McFarland said. "He's had
ome great teams here. I want to con-
inue with those winning ways."
Michigan has a rich tradition in
vrestling dating back to the days
vhen Cliff Keen, one of the biggest
lames in college wrestling history,
poached the Wolverines.
In his 42-year tenure that began in
925, Keen coached 52 inidivdual
ig Ten champions and nine NCAA
Home meets in Bold 1
champions. McFarland seeks to con-
tinue the tradition built by men like
Keen and Bahr. But despite the sto-
ried history of the program, the
sport's crowning achievement is
noticeably missing from Michigan's
"We've never had a national cham-
pionship team here," McFarland
said. "We're going to set individual
goals, but the team concept is very
important. I want to win a team
championship while I'm here."
Sometimes when programs have a
great tradition, there's pressure to
attain results without making
changes. But McFarland isn't afraid
to tweak the program.
"I'm not really looking to make
big changes, but I'm going to do
things the way I feel I need to do
them," McFarland said.
The first off-season was a busy
one for McFarland as he made the
transition into the head coach's role.
Unlike other coaches, he didn't have
the luxury of easing into the new job.
"I was busy making adjustments,
getting my staff in line, and running
my first summer camp," McFarland
said. "I haven't had too much time to
The former Wolverine brings a life
full of wrestling experience to the
"I bring a passion for the sport,"
McFarland said. "Wrestling has been
a big part of my life since I was in
grade school. I've wrestled at every
The offseason has now passed, and
McFarland stands at the brink of the
1999-2000 season. So far, Michigan
has done well in open meets at
Michigan State and Eastern
Michigan, but the regular season
starts Saturday at the Cliff Keen
The new coach is bound to feel the
burden of lofty expectations. With
the return of junior Otto Olson, the
nation's top-ranked wrestler in the
174-pound weight class. Olson fin-
ished second in the nation last year.
The Wolverines also return two
All-Americans, sophomore Andy
Hrovat in the 184-pound class, and
junior Damion Logan in the 141-
But McFarland insists that he did-
n't return to the Michigan wrestling
program solely to accumulate victo-
ries and accolades.
"I want to make sure I continue to
bring good kids into the program,
and make sure the kids have a good
experience here," McFarland said.
"When they graduate, I want them to
be able to come back and say, 'Wow,
t tl r-3-- -- --------, , ___________ :x
program. He has a combination of what a great experience I had at DAVID ROCKaINO/OaDa
echnical knowledge and enthusi- Michigan.' That's really all you can The Michigan wrestling team took steps towards replacing seniors like Joe Warren (left) by signing two highly-touted recruits,
asm. ask for." in the meantime, Michigan will compete in the Cliff Keen Invitational this weekend.
Blue scores two wrestlers in fall signing period Michigan's new me:
Jan. 29 or 30
Cliff Keen Invitational
By Jon Schwartz
Daily Sports Writer
For some sports programs, introduc-
ing a new head coach could cause a
short recruiting cessation.
But for the Michigan wrestling team,
that isn't the case.
In the early signing period between
Nov. 15 and 22, Joe McFarland, the
first-year head coach for the
Wolverines, was able to snag two key
recruits, Ryan Bertin out of St. Edward
High School in Lakewood, Ohio and
Chris Rodrigues of Walker High School
in Marietta, Ga.
"We got the two top kids we went
after," McFarland said. "They're going
to fit in here at Michigan."
Not only were these high-school stars
high on Michigan's list for recruits, they
were truly national leaders.
In his weight class, Rodrigues is
ranked first in the country, and Bertin is
second in his. Both are ranked in the top
25 of high school wrestlers.
Rodrigues was also a two-time
national prep champ, and last year, he
won the junior national championships,
the most prestigious tournament for
While Bertin's r;sum6 is not as
impressive on paper, he still placed sec-
ond in the Ohio state championships last
year, and McFarland said he has beaten
some of the best wrestlers in the coun-
"Both of these guys are aggressive,
hard-nosed, tough wrestlers,"
McFarland said. "I like both of their
But recruiting consists of much more
than tracking the wrestlers for a short
amount of time and compiling stats. It is
a never-ending process at all times to
ensure that the future of the program can
continue to be successful.
"Recruiting is obviously the lifeblood
of your program," McFarland said. "You
have to have the right kind of kids in
your program that you know you can
"I'm thinking about recruiting year-
It is in part because of this that
McFarland was so successful in his
recruiting so far.
While this is his first year at the helm,
he has been involved with the Michigan
wrestling program for several years.
"As an assistant coach, one of my pri-
mary jobs was to be in charge of recruit-
ing," McFarland said. "I think I'm a
pretty good one. I have a good rapport
with the kids"
The two signees could be a good indi-
cator for what is to come for Michigan
in this recruiting term.
If McFarland can get his two top
prospects in the early period, the season
and the regular signing term can be
focused on maintaining the Wolverines'
position as national powers and signing
more national wrestling stars.
While McFarland equld not name this
year's remaining prospects, he did say
that he has his eyes on several in-state
recruits whose progress the coaches will
be following throughout their senior
But for the time being, the new head
coach can be satisfied with his success
to date and worry about more immedi-
ate concerns, such as this weekend's
Cliff Keen Invitational in Stateline,
"I'm excited about both of these guys
coming," he said. "We keep taking some
steps forward as we move along"
e 1999 junior national champion
s Two-time high school national
® Three-time Georgia state cham-*
. 1999 Ohio state runner-up
m Wrestled for Michigan in the
Head coach at Indiana before
returning to Ann Arbor
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