MSU Spartans
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Spartans Travel to No. 12 Michigan, Host No. 15 Illinois This Weekend
Mike McClure will face top-ranked Adam Coon of Michigan on Friday night in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Mike McClure will face top-ranked Adam Coon of Michigan on Friday night in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Jan. 23, 2014

Match 12:
Michigan State (5-6, 0-3 Big Ten) vs. No. 12 Michigan (7-2, 3-0 Big Ten)
 Date | Time Friday, Jan. 24 | 7 p.m.
 Location Ann Arbor, Mich. | Cliff Keen Arena
 Televison Big Ten Digital Network |
 Live Stats
 Tickets Adults: $8 (reserved)/$7 (GA) | Youth/Senior: $5
 Game Notes Michigan State | Michigan

Match 13:
Michigan State (5-6, 0-3 Big Ten) vs. No. 15 Illinois (6-4, 0-3 Big Ten)
 Date | Time Sunday, Jan. 26 | 2 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 | Illinois
 Social Media @wrestlingmsu | #B1GWrestle

The Michigan State wrestling team is preparing for a busy weekend as the Spartans travel to Ann Arbor on Friday night to take on No. 12 Michigan at 7 p.m. before hosting No. 15 Illinois Sunday at 2 p.m. in Jenison Field House. Both matches will be streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network and are available for purchase at

The Spartans (5-6, 0-3 Big Ten) are coming off a home loss to then-No. 2 Minnesota last Friday, 35-3. Michigan (7-2, 3-0) upset the Gophers in Ann Arbor, 19-14, last Sunday, and also beat Illinois in Champaign, Ill., last Friday, 19-13. Illinois (6-4, 0-3) will take on top-ranked Penn State on Friday before heading to East Lansing to face MSU.

"There's an intensity to this rivalry that's rather unique," said MSU head coach Tom Minkel. "In the state of Michigan, everyone knows everybody. In a lot of cases, our kids grew up with their kids and had rivalries with them in high school.

"You know you have to stick together," added Minkel when talking about the atmosphere of wrestling a rival on the road. "Everybody knows when you get out on that mat, it's going to be tough, but at the same time, it's really one of the great things about college wrestling. When you have these kinds of rivalries, the wrestling really goes to another level. It's good for the wrestlers, it's good for the fans, and it's good for the sport."

Minkel has seen improvement from his team during the Big Ten season, but is looking for more this weekend against the Wolverines and Fighting Illini.

"We have two primary needs that we need to improve on," he said. "We need to keep better position on our feet. We can't give a guy an opportunity to take us down without it being a real fight. That's an area that takes a lot of discipline.

"What happens a lot of times during the beginning of the year is you wrestle some mid-level competition, and you can make some mistakes and be out of position and still win. You get an illusion that you can do that at every level. But the fact of the matter is, when you wrestle in the Big Ten and the higher level competition, the less you can be out of position and not pay for it. We're starting I think to figure that out.

"The second thing is that we have to do a better job of getting off the bottom. We've been ridden too much and we've been hung up on the bottom. Those are our two main challenges."

Michigan State at No. 12 Michigan: Probable Starting Lineups
 125 MSU: Brenan Lyon (Sr., 5-9) vs.
UM: Conor Youtsey (R-Fr., 12-7)
 133 MSU: Garth Yenter (R-Fr., 14-11) vs.
UM: Rossi Bruno (So., 12-10)
 141 MSU: Brian Gibbs (So., 12-14) vs.
UM: No. 14 Steve Dutton (Jr., 2-0)
 149 MSU: Nick Trimble (So., 18-6) vs.
UM: No. 7 Eric Grajales (Sr., 14-6)
 157 MSU: Roger Wildmo (So., 11-10) vs.
UM: No. 13 Brian Murphy (Fr., 11-3)
 165 MSU: Bobby Nash (Sr., 14-11) vs.
UM: No. 7 Dan Yates (Sr., 13-2)
 174 MSU: Kevin Nash (Jr., 8-9) vs.
UM: Collin Zeerip (Jr., 15-7)
 184 MSU: No. 18 John Rizqallah (Jr., 15-4) vs.
UM: Domenic Abounader (Fr., 9-4)
 197 MSU: Nick McDiarmid (Jr., 12-6) vs.
UM: Chris Heald (Jr., 7-12)
 Hwt. MSU: No. 9 Mike McClure (Sr., 17-4) vs.
UM: No. 1 Adam Coon (Fr., 23-0)

No. 15 Illinois at Michigan State: Probable Starting Lineups
 125 MSU: Brenan Lyon (Sr., 5-9) vs.
ILL: No. 4 Jesse Delgado (Jr., 14-1)
 133 MSU: Garth Yenter (R-Fr., 14-11) vs.
ILL: No. 11 Zane Richards (R-Fr., 12-2)
 141 MSU: Brian Gibbs (So., 12-14) vs.
ILL: John Fahy (R-Fr., 9-6)
 149 MSU: Nick Trimble (So., 18-6) vs.
ILL: No. 19 Caleb Ervin (R-Fr., 2-3)
 157 MSU: Roger Wildmo (So., 11-10) vs.
ILL: No. 12 Zac Brunson (R-Fr., 16-4)
 165 MSU: Bobby Nash (Sr., 14-11) vs.
ILL: No. 12 Jackson Morse (Jr., 15-2)
 174 MSU: Kevin Nash (Jr., 8-9) vs.
ILL: Tony Dallago (Sr., 13-4)
 184 MSU: No. 18 John Rizqallah (Jr., 15-4) vs.
ILL: Nikko Reyes (R-Fr., 12-6)
 197 MSU: Nick McDiarmid (Jr., 12-6) vs.
ILL: Jeff Koepke (So., 7-6) OR No. 4 Mario Gonzalez (Sr., 7-0)
 Hwt. MSU: No. 9 Mike McClure (Sr., 17-4) vs.
ILL: Chris Lopez (So., 10-9)

All five of MSU's opponents in the month of January are currently ranked in the NWCA/USA TODAY Top 25 Coaches Poll. Michigan State has already wrestled No. 3 Iowa and No. 2 Minnesota, and will take on No. 12 Michigan and No. 15 Illinois this weekend. MSU hosts No. 1 Penn State next Friday, Jan. 31 at Jenison Field House.

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. 18.

Michigan leads the all-time series against Michigan State, 64-36-5. MSU is looking for its first win over UM since recording a 17-15 victory over the Wolverines on Jan. 29, 2010, in Ann Arbor. Michigan won the dual last season in East Lansing, 24-15.

Michigan State leads the all-time series against Illinois, 40-17-4. The two teams did not wrestle last season; the Fighting Illini won the last dual, 26-13, on Jan. 22, 2012, in Champaign, Ill. The Spartans defeated Illinois in the last meeting at Jenison Field House, 21-14, on Jan. 30, 2011.

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 89-26.

Ranked ninth by InterMat, McClure has collected a 17-4 overall record, including an 8-3 mark in dual meets. He's also tied for the team lead with five falls. McClure is 2-3 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), No. 4 Bobby Telford (Iowa) and No. 2 Tony Nelson (Minnesota). McClure will wrestle his third straight top-five opponent on Friday as he will face No. 1 Adam Coon of Michigan. Coon upset Nelson of Minnesota in the dual on Jan. 19 in Ann Arbor, as he recorded a 4-2 (SV2) victory.

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 15-4 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. 18 by InterMat.

Rizqallah is 2-2 against ranked opponents this season, including a victory over 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 50-23 career record.

No. 2 Minnesota defeated the Michigan State wrestling team, 35-3, Friday, Jan. 31 at Jenison Field House. The Gophers featured seven ranked wrestlers in their starting lineup.

Sophomore Brian Gibbs proved to be a bright spot for the Spartans, as he rallied to defeat Josh Shupe at 141 pounds. Trailing 1-0 entering the third period, Gibbs quickly escaped to tie the score at 1, then delivered the winning takedown with 45 seconds remaining in the match. Shupe tallied an escape with 11 seconds left, but Gibbs held him off for the win.

"Brian did what we asked - he was the aggressor, he got his position, and really created a lot of pressure," commented MSU head coach Tom Minkel following the dual. "And that's what you have to do. Brian is good enough where he can force that. That was a big step for him and hopefully he can keep it going."

In the marquee match of the dual, two-time defending national champion and second-ranked Tony Nelson held off No. 9 Mike McClure, 2-0. After a scoreless first, Nelson got on the board with an escape 17 seconds into the second period. With Nelson on top to start the third, McClure nearly escaped several times, but Nelson ended up holding him down the entire period to collect 1:43 of riding time in the 2-0 win.

"I thought Mike McClure's match was outstanding," said Minkel. "He's made some real progress since the last time they wrestled (last season). Mike was in it the whole match. He's made some adjustments and even though he didn't win the match, I think we all saw that he's certainly on the right track."

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 5-3 in duals this season and 12-6 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).

Seven Spartans placed at the Purple Raider Open on Jan. 21 at the McPherson Academic & Athletic Complex on the campus of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio. Freshman Josh Pennell led the way by going 4-0 to claim first place at 149 pounds. Pennell recorded a major decision and a fall along the way to the title match, where he topped Mount Union's Tyler Johnston, 4-2.

Freshman Javier Gasca placed in his fifth tournament of the season by taking runner-up at 133 pounds. Gasca won his first three matches before dropping a 7-3 decision to Sammy White of Notre Dame College in the championship bout. Gasca also has placed in the MSU Open (third), Eastern Michigan Open (fifth), Wisconsin Open (third) and Reno Tournament of Champions (second).

Travis Curley (165 pounds) and Jordan Wohlfert (174 pounds) also took home runner-up honors in their respective weight classes. In addition, Terry Turner (fourth at 141), Kaelan Richards (fourth at 149) and Chris Nash (third at heavyweight) placed for the Spartans.




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