Nov. 9, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State wrestling team hosted the annual MSU Open Saturday at Jenison Field House. More than 500 wrestlers from 28 schools competed in the prestigious tournament, which featured some of the top wrestlers in the nation.
The Spartans placed nine wrestlers in the event, including seventh-ranked Mike McClure, who took second in the heavyweight open division. No team scores were kept.
"I think this might have been the overall toughest tournament that we've had," said MSU head coach Tom Minkel, who has been running the MSU Open for more than 20 years. "I thought the level of competition was extraordinarily high. It's a real credit to (associate head coach) Roger Chandler, (assistant coach) Sam Wendland, Anthony Jones, and my entire staff, who made this tournament run flawlessly.
"I thought today was a step in the right direction for us. A lot of the guys were better along than maybe I thought they were. This is the first tournament of the year and we have a long way to go, but this is certainly a great place to start. There was great competition, and they learned some good lessons."
At 133 pounds, a pair of freshmen had an impressive showing in the open division. True freshman Javier Gasca won his first three matches, but fell in the semifinals to No. 7 A.J. Schopp of Edinboro, 8-1. Gasca ended up taking third place. Red-shirt freshman Garth Yenter went 3-2 to place sixth.
Junior Ryan Watts, an NCAA qualifier from last season, placed fourth at 157 pounds. Watts was victorious in his first three bouts, but fell to Andrew Morse of Northern Illinois in the semifinals, 9-2, and was pinned by Ohio's 17th-ranked Spartak Chino in the third-place match.
Junior John Rizqallah, who was also qualified for the NCAA Championships last season, compiled a 3-2 record to finish in fourth place.
Two Spartans placed in the 197-pound bracket. Junior Luke Jones reached the semifinals with a pair of victories before getting pinned by No. 14 Braden Atwood of Purdue; Jones quickly bounced back with a pin of his own, recording a fall over Shawn Scott of Northern Illinois in just 45 seconds in the third-place match. Junior Nick McDiarmid went 4-1 to take fifth place.
In the marquee match of the tournament, McClure lost a hard-fought, 5-3 decision to 13th-ranked Adam Chalfant of Indiana in the championship bout of the heavyweight bracket. Chalfant notched a takedown in the first period before McClure escaped, and Chalfant went up 3-1 with an escape in the second. In the third, McClure trimmed the lead to 3-2 with another escape, but suffered a late takedown in the eventual 5-3 loss. McClure won three matches prior to his loss to Chalfant.
In the freshman/sophomore division, true freshman Mitch Rogaliner took second place at 125 pounds. Rogaliner won his first four matches before dropping a 9-8 decision to Ivan McClay in the championship bout. Sophomore Nick Trimble also placed second in his weight class at 149 pounds. Trimble, who started at 141 for the Spartans last season as a true freshman, won four matches to reach the final round before he lost a 6-4 decision to Colin Heffernan of Central Michigan.
Michigan State returns to action for the Eastern Michigan Duals in Ypsilanti, Mich., next Saturday, Nov. 16. The Spartans will face Oregon State (10 a.m.), Utah Valley (11:30 a.m.), Gardner-Webb (1 p.m.) and Drexel (2:30 p.m.).