Pictured: Cliff Keen Area on the campus of University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, prior to a dual meet with Iowa in February 2020. Picture courtesy of Sam Janicki/@SamJanickiPhoto.
Stevan Micic is 25 years old. The three-time All-American has been in college wrestling for seven years, including his redshirt seasons. This summer, he represented Serbia at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where he was 0-1.
Well, sign the veteran Michigan Man up for an eighth year of college and a fourth year of competition on the collegiate mat at Cliff Keen Arena.
Micic will compete for coach Sean Bormet and Wolverines in 2021-22. The U of M lightweight announced his commitment via Instagram late Thursday night.
“I’M BAACK 〽️🔥 One last dance, Team 100, and the big show is in Detroit. Everything is coming together.
I know what we have here at the University of Michigan. I’m very thankful for the opportunities I’ve had because I’m a Wolverine. Michigan is a place where I can accomplish my freestyle and college goals together simultaneously. My coaches, my teammates, and my fans have always supported me, and now I have the chance to do something bigger than me to achieve a lasting legacy that I can leave at Michigan forever. Being an NCAA champion is something I have one last shot of doing, and I’m not going to leave any stones unturned. Although it’s seemed like I’ve been in college forever, I’ve only competed in 3 college seasons. This last season for me and the team will be the greatest, God willing. There is no place I would rather compete for and call home. It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine. GO BLUE!〽️💙💛 🏆 #michigan #goblue #team100 #michiganwrestling,” Micic wrote on Instagram.
Alongside Stevan (133), his teammate Myles Anime, a 2020 Olympic bronze medalist (San Marino) and four-time All-American at Michigan (174, 184, and 197), also announced he would utilize his extra year of eligibly from the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this month.
In December, Anime, turns 26 years old and will be in the middle of his seventh season in Division I wrestling. Myles boasts three NCAA third-place finishes (2018, 2019, and 2021), plus a fourth-place finish at NCAAs from 2017.
After bringing home Olympic bronze for San Marino earlier this summer, Anime hopes year number seven will be his best yet at Michigan. The two-time high school state champion out of Detroit Central Catholic hopes to bring home his first NCAA title in his native Detroit in his last collegiate season.
With that, rather impressively, Michigan has two Olympians in its starting 10. Also, at least nine of its starters came back from the coronavirus-shortened 2021 season, which saw the Maize and Blue finish fifth nationally, just one spot away from the podium.
Only two-time All-American Logan Massa (174) has yet to announce his intentions for the upcoming season. Should Massa return, he’ll be entering season seven as well, which includes a pair of redshirts in 2015-16 and 2019-20.
Micic’s and Anime’s respective decisions to return make this talented Wolverines squad an instant title-contender in 2022. The decisions also bring some serious excitement to the 133-pound and 197-pound classes as both men are individual title-contenders at their respective weights.
As Micic’s post states, the decision to return was primarily predicated on his desire to become an NCAA champion and to do so “at home” in Detroit. Stevan has a trio of NCAA Top-4 finishes to his credit already, including a runner-up finish in 2018, falling to top-seeded Seth Gross, then of of North Dakota State, 13-8.
The most likely threats to the Cedar Lake, Indiana, native, at 133 are: 2021 NCAA champ Roman Bravo-Young, 2019 133-pound national champion Nick Suriano (who has yet to pick a transfer destination for 2021-22), two-time finalist and 2021 61kg Senior-level World Teamer Daton Fix (Oklahoma State), multiple-time All-American Austin DeSanto (Iowa), and a handful of 125-pounders that could bump up to avoid the buzzsaw that is Iowa’s three-time NCAA champ and two-time Hodge Trophy recipient Spencer Lee.
Anime, too, will not have a cakewalk to the highly-coveted NCAA title. His path to gold will likely run through some combination of 2021 national champion AJ Ferrari (Oklahoma State), former NCAA finalists Nino Bonaccorsi (197 in 2021). Max Dean (184 in 2019), and previous All-Americans Jacob Warner (Iowa), Rocky Elam (Missouri), Jake Woodley (Oklahoma), Ben Darmstadt (Cornell), Stephen Buchanan (Wyoming), Noah Adams (West Virginia), and others.
Any way you look at it, the 2021-22 NCAA wrestling season will be the most unique (and probably most talented) field of competitors we have ever seen.
In the Big Ten alone, there will be three 2020 Olympians (Gable Steveson, Anime, and Micic), two former Hodge Trophy winners (Stevenson, 2021) and Lee (2020 and 2021). Plus, Lee looks to become just the fifth in the sport’s history to be a four-time NCAA champion. Wrestling’s best conference also brings back all six 2021 NCAA champs from the conference.
There is also a plethora of other athletes, in both the Big Ten beyond, with notable freestyle credentials at the Junior-level and Senior-level, that will be competing for national titles and All-American honors this season as well.
NCAA wrestling in March 2022 will be a blast, that’s for sure.