Spartans Down Eastern Michigan in Home Opener, 24-9
Nov. 21, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State wrestling team defeated Eastern Michigan, 24-9, Thursday night at Jenison Field House in the home opener for the Spartans.
MSU improved to 4-1 and handed the Eagles their first loss of the season (4-1). The Spartans won seven of the 10 matches in the dual.
Although Eastern Michigan took a quick 3-0 lead with a win in the 149-pound weight class, Michigan State bounced back with six straight victories to take control of the dual. No. 20 Ryan Watts (157), Bobby Nash (165), Kevin Nash (174), John Rizqallah (184), Nick McDiarmid (197) and No. 12 Mike McClure (heavyweight) all recorded wins for MSU as the Spartans built an 18-3 lead, and Brian Gibbs (141) closed the dual with a pin.
"We've really worked hard and have talked about the need to keep good position and create all kinds of pressure," said MSU head coach Tom Minkel. "And that's easier said than done. We've also focused on the fundamentals, and I think we did a remarkably good job of that. This team has bought in.
"We were in a lot of really tight matches, and we put together a nice run there with a lot of adversity. We're off to a good start and I'm enormously proud of them. This is one of the more satisfying duals I've coached, because in a lot of places we're young, but we're starting to understand what it takes to be successful. Tonight was a step in the right direction."
Watts, ranked 20th, started the run at 157 by edging Brandon Zeerip, 3-2. Watts and Zeerip were scoreless after the first period, but Watts began the second period with a quick escape to take a 1-0 lead. Zeerip also tallied an escape to start the third to knot the match at 1. Watts recorded the only takedown of the match with a double leg with one minute left, and although Zeerip escaped with 20 seconds left, Watts held on for the 3-2 victory.
At 165 pounds, Bobby Nash fell down to Jacob Davis early, 2-0, but escaped midway through the second period and produced a late takedown with five seconds left in the second to go up, 3-2. Davis tied the match at 3 with an escape to send the match into overtime. After neither wrestler scored in sudden victory, Nash held down Davis for the entire 30 seconds in the first tiebreaker, then escaped with 10 seconds left to break the tie and win, 4-3.
Bobby's brother, Kevin, also recorded a win in overtime with a 3-1 sudden victory over Mike Curby at 174 pounds.
In one of the featured matches of the dual, John Rizqallah had a huge third period to record a 6-2 decision over Phillip Joseph, who is ranked as high as 16th in the nation at 184 pounds. Rizqallah found himself down 2-1 late in the second, but escaped with 18 seconds left to tie it at 2 heading into the final period. Rizqallah was aggressive on top in the third and held down Joseph, accumulating a total of 1:22 riding time and near-fall points in the closing seconds to win, 6-2.
MSU kept the momentum going following intermission as Nick McDiarmid upset No. 15 Nick Whitenburg, 6-2, in the 197-pound match for his second victory over a ranked wrestler this season. McDiarmid was the aggressor the entire match, delivering a takedown just 15 seconds into the first period. He was on top the whole second period and built his lead to 5-1 in the third before giving up a late escape. McDiarmid finished with a dominating 3:21 of riding time in the 6-2 decision.
No. 12 Mike McClure extended MSU's lead to 18-3 with a 2-0 victory over Khoder Hoballah at heavyweight. McClure's takedown with 28 seconds left in the first proved to be the difference.
The Eagles ended their six-match losing streak with wins at 125 and 133 pounds, but Gibbs put the exclamation point on the dual victory for Michigan State with a pin in the last match at 141 pounds. Gibbs trailed 3-1 midway through the second, but trimmed the lead with an escape later in the period. He recorded a takedown with one minute left in the third to take a brief 4-3 lead before recording the fall with 55 seconds remaining in the match.
Michigan State returns to action for the Northeast Duals on Saturday, Nov. 30 in Troy, N.Y.
Michigan State 24, Eastern Michigan 9
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