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Spartans Return Home to Face No. 2 Minnesota

Ninth-ranked Mike McClure will take on No. 2 Tony Nelson of Minnesota Friday night at Jenison Field House.

Jan. 16, 2014

Match 11:
Michigan State (5-5, 0-2 Big Ten) vs. No. 2 Minnesota (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten)
 Date | Time Friday, Jan. 17 | 7 p.m.
 Location East Lansing, Mich. | Jenison Field House
 Televison Big Ten Digital Network |
 Live Stats
 Tickets Adults: $5 | Youth/Senior: $3
 Game Notes Michigan State
 Social Media @wrestlingmsu | #B1GWrestle

After more than a month away from Jenison Field House, the Michigan State wrestling team returns home to face No. 2 Minnesota Friday at 7 p.m. The match is being streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network and is available for purchase at

The Spartans (5-5, 0-2 Big Ten) are coming off a bye weekend after falling at No. 3 Iowa in their last match on Jan. 4 in Iowa City. MSU last wrestled at Jenison Field House in its Big Ten opener Dec. 8 against Wisconsin.

Minnesota (6-0) won twice last weekend to improve to 3-0 in conference action. The Gophers defeated Northwestern on the road, 26-12, and came back home to Minneapolis to top Wisconsin, 28-6. Following their dual against the Spartans on Friday, the Gophers will head to Ann Arbor on Sunday. Minnesota defeated MSU last season in Minneapolis, 32-6.

For Michigan State, it continues an extremely difficult stretch of competition against the top teams in the nation.

"Our schedule this month is quite extraordinary," said MSU head coach Tom Minkel, as the Spartans will face five ranked teams, including the top three in the nation. "With our kids it's just a matter of being resilient. You can't wrestle their ranking, you have to just wrestle the guy - it's just you and another guy. The most important thing for us is just wrestling hard every match and good things will happen."

Eight of the 10 starters for Minnesota are ranked in the InterMat Top 20, including No. 1 Scott Schiller at 197 pounds and No. 2 Tony Nelson at heavyweight. The marquee match of the dual will feature Nelson against ninth-ranked senior Mike McClure at heavyweight. At 184 pounds, No. 19 John Rizqallah, who nearly upset third-ranked Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa, will try and take down No. 9 Kevin Steinhaus.

"You have to look at this as an opportunity and that's really what it is," said Minkel. "These guys all wrestle here because they want to be in the Big Ten. They want to be competitive in the Big Ten and that's why they are at a school like Michigan State. So we are very much looking forward to this weekend. The best part about it is that it is here; we don't have to drive or fly to Minnesota. It is on them now, they are traveling, and they are on the road. We had last weekend off, so last week we got a really good training week in. This week we worked on some of our priorities and my hope is that we will have a great dual against a really great team."

Minkel is looking for his to team to show the aggressiveness it wrestled with during the beginning of the season when the Spartans got off to a 4-1 start.

"It's just one of those things that you can't be tentative, you can't be cautious; you just have to go out there and make it a fight," he remarked. "That's our goal this weekend; we have to do a better job of taking it to them and just take off and take some swings."

Michigan State will face its third top-10 opponent of the season when it plays host to No. 2 Minnesota on Friday. The Spartans have also wrestled No. 6 Oregon State and No. 2 Iowa. All five of MSU's opponents in the month of January are currently ranked in the NWCA/USA TODAY Top 25 Coaches Poll.

Senior heavyweight Mike McClure maintained his No. 9 position in this week's InterMat rankings, while junior 184-pounder John Rizqallah moved up one spot to No. 19.

Senior Mike McClure is in his third year as a starter at heavyweight for the Spartans. The Holland, Mich., native earned his first trip to the NCAA Championships last season as a junior and is looking to return to the national stage this March to earn All-America honors. He owns a career record of 89-25.

Ranked ninth by InterMat, McClure has collected a 17-3 overall record, including an 8-2 mark in dual meets. He's also tied for the team lead with five falls. McClure is 2-2 against ranked opponents, with victories over No. 18 William Smith (Rutgers) and No. 6 Connor Medbery (Wisconsin) and losses to No. 8 Adam Chalfant (Indiana) and No. 4 Bobby Telford (Iowa).

McClure is 9-1 in open tournaments this season and claimed first place at both the Northern Iowa Open in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Dec. 14 and the Cradle Gear Invitational in Lock Haven, Pa., on Dec. 29.

Junior John Rizqallah is tied for the team lead with eight dual wins and has produced a 15-3 overall record this season at 184 pounds. Rizqallah entered the national rankings after going 4-0 and taking first place at the Cradle Gear Invitational on Dec. 29 in Lock Haven, Pa. He currently sits at No. 19 by InterMat.

Rizqallah is 2-1 against ranked opponents this season; he defeated No. 8 Vic Avery of Edinboro in the MSU Open while taking fourth in the event, and also topped No. 15 Jackson Hein of Wisconsin in the dual against the Badgers on Dec. 8. Rizqallah nearly upset No. 3 Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa on Jan. 4 in Iowa City, but lost 4-2 after giving up the lead in the third period.

Rizqallah, who qualified for the NCAA Championships last season, owns a 50-22 career record.

Led by three first-place finishes, Michigan State won the Cradle Gear Invitational Tournament on Dec. 29 in Lock Haven, Pa., with 10 team points. Three Spartans took home individual titles: Nick Trimble (149), John Rizqallah (184) and Mike McClure (heavyweight). Other Spartans to place included Brenan Lyon (fourth at 125 pounds), Garth Yenter (third place at 133), Brian Gibbs (fourth at 141), Roger Wildmo (third at 157), Bobby Nash (second at 165), Travis Curley (third at 165), and Nick McDiarmid (second at 197).

Three-year starter Nick McDiarmid has already tied his career high with five dual wins this season at 197 pounds. The junior from Fowlerville, Mich., is 5-2 in duals this season and 12-5 overall. He placed runner-up at the Cradle Gear Invitational and fifth at the MSU Open. McDiarmid also owns wins over two ranked opponents in duals this season (No. 14 Brandon Palik of Drexel; No. 15 Nick Whitenburg of Eastern Michigan).

Senior Bobby Nash, who is in his first year as a starter at 165 pounds, is 14-10 this season with a 5-3 record in dual meets. Nash posted an impressive weekend at the Northeast Duals in Troy, N.Y., on Nov. 30, by winning all three of his matches. All of his victories came against NCAA qualifiers from last season, including pins over Nick Visicaro of Rutgers and John Staudenmayer of North Carolina.

Michigan State began the season by winning four of its first five duals. The Spartans went 3-1 at the Eastern Michigan Duals on Nov. 16 with victories over Utah Valley, Gardner-Webb and Drexel, and their only loss was to sixth-ranked Oregon State. The Spartans won their home opener over Eastern Michigan, 24-9, by taking seven of the 10 matches in the dual.

The Spartans rallied from a 16-0 deficit to defeat North Carolina on Nov. 30 in the Northeast Duals. MSU won five of the last six matches in the dual, and Mike McClure sealed the victory with a first-period fall over Bob Coe in 2:19 to give the Spartans a dramatic comeback win. McClure went 3-0 at the Northeast Duals, as he also defeated Wyatt Baker of Columbia, 7-2, and 16th-ranked Billy Smith of Rutgers, 8-3.

Michigan State hosted the annual MSU Open Nov. 9 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 Mike McClure, who took second in the heavyweight open division. No team scores were kept.

Michigan State's roster features three Nash's, all brothers: Bobby, Chris and Kevin. Bobby, a senior, is in his first year as the starting 165-pounder. Kevin, a junior, is also in the starting lineup at 174 pounds. Chris is a sophomore heavyweight.

Six of Michigan State's eight Big Ten duals this season are either being broadcasted on the Big Ten Network or the Big Ten Digital Network. In addition, all six of MSU's home duals are being shown on either BTN or BTDN. The live webstreams on BTDN are available for purchase on MSU's official website,

No. 2 Minnesota at Michigan State: Probable Starting Lineups
 125 MSU: Brenan Lyon (Sr., 5-8) vs.
MINN: Jordan Kingsley (So., 11-8) OR Sam Brancale (R-Fr., 10-4)
 133 MSU: Garth Yenter (R-Fr., 14-10) vs.
MINN: No. 9 David Thorn (Sr., 14-3)
 141 MSU: Brian Gibbs (So., 11-14) vs.
MINN: No. 5 Chris Dardanes (Jr., 21-4)
 149 MSU: Nick Trimble (So., 18-5) vs.
MINN: No. 2 Nick Dardanes (Jr., 20-1)
 157 MSU: Roger Wildmo (So., 11-9) vs.
MINN: No. 8 Dylan Ness (Jr., 11-3) OR Brandon Kingsley (R-Fr., 19-5)
 165 MSU: Bobby Nash (Sr., 14-10) vs.
MINN: Daniel Zilverburg (Sr., 13-9)
 174 MSU: Kevin Nash (Jr., 8-8) vs.
MINN: No. 5 Logan Storley (Jr., 19-2)
 184 MSU: No. 19 John Rizqallah (Jr., 15-3) vs.
MINN: No. 9 Kevin Steinhaus (Sr., 7-2)
 197 MSU: Nick McDiarmid (Jr., 12-5) vs.
MINN: No. 1 Scott Schiller (Jr., 20-0)
 Hwt. MSU: No. 9 Mike McClure (Sr., 17-3) vs.
MINN: Tony Nelson (Sr., 20-1)



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