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Wrestlers Face Off at Penn State on Big Ten Network

Feb. 14, 2008

Date: Friday, Feb. 15, 2008
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: University Park, Pa.
Arena: Rec Hall
TV: Big Ten Network
Live Stats:

PDF of complete notes: Click Here

The Spartans will make their 2008 television premier Friday, Feb. 15 on the Big Ten Network as MSU travels to University Park, Pa., to take on the No. 9 Penn State Nittany Lions at 7 p.m. Check your local cable or satellite provider for BTN channel listings.

The Spartans battled through a tough weekend against No. 7 Ohio State and No. 11 Northwestern, dropping both matches at home. The Buckeyes walked away with the overall win, 23-15.

On Sunday the Spartans were within six points of catching the Wildcats but suffered an unfortunate loss in the final dual, dropping an overall 25-15 decision to Northwestern.

Gomez continued to shine for Michigan State as the 133-pounder recorded his third technical fall decision against Ohio State and his first pin of the season in the day's second-to-last dual against Northwestern. With his ninth-straight victory, Gomez extended his undefeated dual record to 14-0 and his overall mark to 22-1.

John Fulger also earned a pair of wins over the weekend at 157 pounds, his first consecutive wins since early November. Fulger defeated OSU's Jason Johnstone 4-1 on Friday and NU's Andrew Nadhir 12-8 to improve his overall mark to 14-15; he now has three Big Ten wins.

Against the Buckeyes, John Murphy and Joe Williams tallied wins, while Nick Palmieri and Rex Kendle added victories against the Wildcats.



Michigan State is led by a pair of ranked wrestlers, veterans No. 4 Franklin Gomez and No. 15 Joe Williams - who have been ranked all season by InterMat. For a week, they were joined by 174-pounder John Murphy, who appeared in the late January rankings at No. 19. All three wrestlers have already compiled 20-win seasons.

Boasting a MSU tournament title, Gomez leads the Spartans with a strong 22-1 overall record and perfect 14-0 dual mark so far this winter as the 133-pound starter. His impressive season includes one pin, three technical falls, seven major decisions and eight wins over ranked opponents. Additionally, Gomez has won nine straight matches, including all six of his Big Ten duals.

Senior starter Joe Williams ranks as high as 15th in the 197-pound polls. Williams has posted a 23-10 overall record this year - currently the winningest Spartan on the roster - and has posted three wins over ranked opponents as well as seven pins and six major decisions.

In tournament action, Williams is also the only Spartan to record medal finishes in all four events this year, with second-place finishes at the Eastern Michigan Open, MSU Open and Nittany Lion Open, and an eight-place finish at the Midlands Championships.

Adding to the Spartan depth, 174-pound starter John Murphy extended his record to 21-14 with his most recent 11-6 win over Ohio State's Alex Picazo.

The Nittany Lions are coming off a 20-14 win over No. 6 Michigan last Friday night. True freshman Garrett Scott posted a 4-3 win over then No. 4 Kellen Russell at 141 - earning him the Big Ten Wrestler of the Week honor, while senior Phil Davis had posted a technical fall over No. 14 Anthony Biondo at 197, Junior 285-pounder John Laboranti sealed the win with a last second takedown in his 6-4 (sudden victory) decision. Seniors Mark McKnight (125 pounds) and Tim Haas (133 pounds) and sophomore Dan Vallimont (157 pounds) also got wins for the Nittany Lions.

Sophomore standout Franklin Gomez has jumped out to an incredible start to the season, going undefeated in 2008 as 133-pound the starter ranks fourth nationally in his weight class by InterMat, a standing propped up by his MSU Open title, Big Ten Wrestler of the Week accolades, eight wins over ranked opponents, his 22-1 overall record and perfect 14-0 dual mark.

Gomez's owns too impressive win streaks so far this year; he won his first thirteen straight and currently is undefeated in his last nine. The two streaks are seperated by his single loss of the season, which he suffered in the 133-pound title match of the Midlands Championships in December of 2007. In the quarterfinals, Gomez defeated Wyoming's Corey VomBaur in a 16-1 technical fall, and went on to best Iowa State's No. 4 Nick Fanthorpe, a 3-1 decision, to advance to the finals. In the title match, Gomez took on Iowa's No. 2 Joe Slaton, but fell in a tough 6-2 loss, surrendering the bracket title and his first loss of the season.

In dual action, Gomez remains flawless, with his most recent wins over Ohio State's John Shaefer and Northwestern's Robert Joyce. Gomez defeated Shaefer 19-1, earning his third technifal fall this year, and pinned Joyce in 6:50 - Gomez's first pin this year.

Previously, Gomez defeated Wisconsin's No. 11 Zach Tanelli and Indiana's No. 12 Andrea Hernandez. The Feb. 3 match marked the second time Gomez defeated Hernandez this winter; topping off his outstanding performance at the Spartans' home tournament in November, Gomez defeated then-ranked No. 3 Hernandez 5-2 to claim the 133-pound title in the MSU Open.

In total dual action, Gomez has tallied 53 dual points for MSU with his 14 victories.

Senior captain Joe Williams continues to be a driving force for the Spartans, as the fifth-year 197-pounder leads by example for the MSU wrestlers.

Ranked 15th in the nation by InterMat, Willams paces the Spartans with a team-high 23 wins and seven pins. He also boasts six major decisions and four shutouts.

Williams' began his season putting up impressive numbers in the fall's four tournaments (14-6) and has continued to succeed in dual action (8-3). Williams is the only Spartan that placed in each of this year's tournaments, earning second at the Eastern Michigan Open, the MSU Open and the Nittany Lion Open, and eighth at the Midlands Championships.

Most recently in dual action, Williams defeated Indiana's Joe Fagiano, Purdue's Logan Brown, and Minnesota's Justin Bronsong and Ohio State's John Weakley 9-0 en route to a 4-2 Big Ten mark.

This weekend, Williams will most likely face off against Northwestern's No. 2 Mike Tamillow on Sunday for a stiff rematch. The two have wrestled three times aleady this season, and Tamillow holds a 3-0 advantage against Williams. The Wildcat earned his first two wins in tournament title matches, at the Eastern Michigan and Michigan State Opens. In their most recent meeting at the Midlands Opens in December, Williams suffered an 8-4 loss.

Junior John Murphy broke into his 20-win season win on Feb. 3 over Indiana's Paul Young. Overall, the 174-pounder owns a 21-14 mark, which includes a 6-7 dual record.

On Jan. 22, Murphy wrestled his way into the rankings, and appeared at No. 19 for the week in the W.I.N. poll for the 174-pound weight class.

In tournament action, Murphy went 15-7 en route to picking up a fifth-place finish at the MSU Open and a sixth-place finish at the EMU Open.

Alan O'Donnell returned to the MSU starting lineup at 285 pounds for the Ohio dual after missing six weeks with a knee injury. O'Donnell wrestled the last bout of the evening, and his decision came down to the final moments, when he took down Jason Marshall with four second left to claim the 9-8 victory. O'Donnell left the lineup with a 5-4 mark and is 2-6 since returning.

Franklin Gomez and Anthony Jones Jr. remain undefeated in dual action this season. Gomez has chalked up 14 dual wins, while Carter Jones Jr. made his first career start and earned his only dual win against Ohio.

Since, the Spartans have juggled through nine different lineups, with Franklin Gomez, Rex Kendle and Nick Palmieri being the only constants in their respective weight classes.

Of the 18 wrestlers who have appeared in MSU's starting lineups, nine have been underclassmen and nine have been upperclassmen. Among the underclassmen, Anthony Jones, Jr., is the only true freshman to have entered the circle for a dual, while four redshirt freshman and four sophomores have also earned the starting nod from Coach Minkel. Sophomore 133-pounder Franklin Gomez is the only underclassmen who has started every match this year.

Leading the veterans, two juniors have graced the mat in every dual, Rex Kendle and Nick Palmieri. For their entire class - including Kendle and Palmieri, seven juniors have started this year.

Additionally, both seniors on the Spartan roster have made starts for MSU. Joe Williams has started all but one dual, while Freddie DeRamus has seen five starts.

Head coach Tom Minkel, along with former Chippewa wrestler John Matthews, was honored on Jan. 20 with the retirement of their singlets at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

The pair became the first wrestlers in CMU history to have their singlets ceremoniously raised to the rafters of Rose Arena.

Minkel was a three-time All-American, earning both Division I and Division II honors in 1970 and Division II honors in 1971 (Division II athletes were eligible to wrestle in the Division I tournament at the time). Minkel was also a two-time team MVP, earning the honor in 1970 and `71. Additionally, he won a pair of Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles in 1969 and `70.

Both wrestlers then went on to earn sports on the USA Greco Roman Olympic team. Matthews represent the USA in 1976 and 1980, and Minkel wrestled for the Red, White and Blue in 1980.

Additionally, both wrestlers were inducted into the Central Michigan University Athletic Hall of Fame, with Matthews going in with the inaugural class of 1984, and Minkel the following year in 1985.

The Spartans swept the University of Ohio, 39-0, on Jan. 4, 2008 with wins at all 10 weight classes. The last time MSU shutout an opponent was in 1998, when the Spartans defeated Eastern Michigan, 39-0, on Feb. 1.

MSU signed two nationally ranked recruits, adding Steve Andrus of Manhattan, Kan., and Kirk Tank of Curtice, Ohio, to fill out its fall recruiting class.

"Kirk and Steve are two outstanding young men who I am certain will make a real impact here during their careers as Michigan State Spartans," said head coach Tom Minkel.

Andrus, who ranks seventh nationally by Amateur Wrestling News, won the heavyweight Kansas High School State Championship in 2007, after placing third as a sophomore in 2006. He also excels in Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling, earning multiple All-American honors in Fargo, N.D. Additionally, Andrus won the 2006 Cadet Freestyle National Championships. Andrus will continue to wrestle at 285 pounds when he joins Michigan State next fall.

Tank, who is ranked 15th by W.I.N. Magazine, is a two-time all-state wrestler from Oak Harbor High School in Ohio. He placed fourth at the Ohio State High School Championships as a sophomore and second as a junior, both at 145 pounds. Tank is expected to wrestle at 157 or 165 pounds as a freshman for the Spartans.

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