Michigan State Hosts 2018 Big Ten Championships
MSU set to host at the Breslin Center March 3-4.
|2018 Big Ten Wrestling Championships|
|Location||East Lansing, Michigan | Breslin Center|
|Session 1||Saturday, 10 a.m. ET (first round, quarterfinals)|
|Session 2||Saturday, 6 p.m. ET (semifinals, wrestlebacks)|
|Session 3||Sunday, 12 p.m. ET (consolation semifinals, seventh-place matches)|
|Session 4||Sunday, 3 p.m. ET (First-, third- and fifth-place matches)|
|Internet/TV Coverage||All matches available live at BTN2Go | Session 4 on BTN|
|Brackets||Live brackets and results at TrackWrestling.com|
|Fan Information||Visit B1G Champs Tournament Central for more information.|
MICHIGAN STATE HOSTS 2018 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Michigan State wrestling hosts the 2018 Big Ten Championships, set for Saturday and Sunday, March 3-4 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan. MSU is hosting the event for the first time since 2007.
Session I will kick off the event on Saturday at 10 a.m., followed by Session II at 6 p.m. Session III will begin at 12 p.m. on Sunday, and Session IV, the championship finals, will start at 3 p.m. Sessions I, II and III will be available on BTN Plus, and Session IV will be televised on Big Ten Network and streamed on BTN2Go.
SPARTANS IN THE RANKINGS
• Senior Javier Gasca - 141 pounds
No. 24 by NCAA Coaches Panel
No. 25 by Trackwrestling
No. 30 by NCAA RPI
• Freshman Rayvon Foley - 125 pounds
No. 16 by NCAA RPI
No. 16 by Win Magazine
No. 16 by FloWrestling
No. 17 by Intermat
No. 17 by Trackwrestling
No. 18 by The Open Mat
No. 18 by NCAA Coaches Panel
SPARTAN TRIO PRE-SEEDED FOR BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Three Michigan State wrestlers earned pre-seeds for the upcoming 2018 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, which are set for March 3-4 at the friendly confines of the Breslin Center in East Lansing. The pre-seeds were announced Monday by the conference office.
The pre-seeds, as voted on by the conference’s coaches, rank the top eight wrestlers in seven weight classes along with all 14 starters in three weight classes due to the Big Ten receiving nine or more NCAA Championships qualifier allocations in those classes.
Freshman Rayvon Foley (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) is the highest ranked Spartan at No. 7 in the 125 pound weight class. Foley leads the Spartans in wins, boasting a 25-7 record. Foley’s 13-4 dual record is a team-best, as well as his 46 dual points. Foley’s 7-1 win over No. 13 Luke Welch (Purdue) on Feb. 2 and 10-3 defeat over No. 9 Drew Mattin (Michigan) on Feb. 9 propelled him into the national rankings at No. 17 according to InterMat, and the Spartan ended the regular season on a five-dual win streak.
Redshirt freshman Jwan Britton (Muskegon, Mich./Whitehall) is No. 13 at 149 pounds. Britton finished his first season in the starting lineup with a 10-11 record, highlighted by his first dual win against Southern Illinois Edwardsville on Dec. 29. Britton’s first Big Ten dual win was a major decision over Davey Tunon (Indiana) on Jan. 19, as Britton is tied for second on the team in major decisions with three in total. Britton also finished third at both the Eastern Michigan Open and Cleveland state Open, posting an 8-4 tournament record.
Redshirt freshman Austin Hiles (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville) is seeded No. 12 in the 165 pound bracket. Hiles completed his first season as a starter with a 6-10 dual record, highlighted by two wins over ranked opponents. Hiles earned a win in his first career dual, knocking off No. 14 CJ Brucki (No. 17 Central Michigan) with a buzzer-beater takedown on Nov. 17. Hiles also recorded a shutout win over Dillon Hoey (Indiana) and took down No. 13 Te’Shan Campbell (No. 2 Ohio State) on Jan. 26, leading 4-2 before Campbell was disqualified.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
Ten of Michigan State’s 17 duals have been against nationally ranked squads, with all but one of MSU’s losses this season coming against ranked opponents. Eleven of the 14 teams from the Big Ten Conference are currently ranked in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll. There are four Big Ten teams ranked in the top eight and MSU has faced all four this season.
MICHIGAN STATE: BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
• Michigan State has won eight Big Ten titles, including seven in a row from 1966-72.
• Spartans have won 68 Big Ten individual championships in program history.
• MSU’s first Big Ten title came in 1961 under Coach Fendley Collins, while the rest came under the guidance
of Grady Peninger.
• Former head coach Tom Minkel’s highest finish at the Big Ten Championships was second in 1995; MSU also placed third in 1996 and tied for third in 2003.
• MSU’s last Big Ten Champion was Franklin Gomez, who won two 133-pound titles (2008, 2009).
NCAA QUALIFIER INFORMATION
• The NCAA announced the qualifier allocations for the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Feb. 22. Each qualifying tournament was awarded spots per weight class based on current year data. Each wrestler was measured on the following: Division I winning percentage at the weight class; ratings percentage index (RPI); and coaches’ ranking.
• For each wrestler that reached the threshold in at least two of the three categories, his qualifying tournament was awarded a qualifying spot in that weight class. Each qualifying tournament, with automatic qualifying status, was awarded a minimum of one wrestler per weight class, which will go to the tournament champion, even if they did not have any wrestlers reach at least two of the three thresholds. NCAA tournament spots for each qualifying event will be awarded at the tournament based solely on place-finish.
• This year, the following allocation numbers per weight class for the Big Ten are: 125 (10), 133 (7), 141 (8), 149 (9), 157 (8), 165 (10), 174 (7), 184 (8), 197 (6), and heavyweight (7). The Big Ten leads all conferences with 80 qualifiers, over a quarter of the 283 total qualifiers; the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association is second with 47, the Big 12 Conference is third with 45, the Atlantic Coast Conference is fourth with 34 and Mid-American Conference is fifth with 25.
• After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining 47 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 7. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers. The at-large selections will be made based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition; quality wins; coaches’ ranking; results against common opponents; RPI; qualifying event placement; and winning percentage.
• The 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships takes place at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 15-17.
Several Spartan greats return to East Lansing this weekend to award the incoming champions at the Breslin Center on Sunday, March 4. David Morgan, Nick Simmons, Pat McNamara, Pat Milkovich, Don Behm, Andy Simmons, Tom Milkovich, Dick Cook, Mike Bradley, Larry Avery and Grady Peninger will be on hand to crown the newest Big Ten Champions, all having won Big Ten Championships in their tenure with the Spartan wrestling program.
SPARTANS TO WATCH
• Freshman Rayvon Foley went 6-0 in his first six dual matches at 125 to open his Spartan career as the team’s leader in dual wins ... leads the team overall in dual wins (13) and dual points (46) ... ranked No. 17 by Intermat ... won his first Big Ten bout with a 6-2 decision over Devin Schnupp of Penn State (1/14) ... collected the first win over a ranked opponent of his career with a 7-1 decision over No. 13 Luke Welch of Purdue (2/2) ... defeated his second ranked opponent of season with a 10-3 decision over No. 9 Drew Mattin (2/9) ... earned his first collegiate dual match win in his first career start as a Spartan at No. 17 Central Michigan, giving MSU an early 3-0 lead after defeating Drew Hildebrandt, 9-6 (11/17) ... defeated James Szymanski from No. 24 North Carolina in a 7-3 decision for the Spartans’ only win of the match (12/30) ... claimed his first open tournament title as a Spartan, going undefeated through four matches, including a major decision in the final bout, in the freshman/sophomore division at the Eastern Michigan Open (11/11) ... took second place of the freshman/sophomore division at the MSU Open in his first competition in the Green and White (11/5) ... went 4-2 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (12/1).
• Redshirt freshman Jake Tucker collected his first Big Ten win and first win over a ranked opponent against No. 12 Jake Short of 14th-ranked Minnesota, with a 7-6 decision for the team’s only win of the match (1/7) ... owns a 16-14 overall record and 6-8 in duals ... leads the team in major decisions with six and second in dual points with 35 ... placed second at the EMU Open (11/11) and sixth at the MSU Open (11/5).
• Redshirt freshman Christian Rebottaro went 3-0 in his first three Big Ten duals ... after being out of competition since Dec. 8, Rebottaro returned to the lineup with a statement, winning the last bout of the dual against Indiana to seal the match win for the Spartans (1/19) ... also swung the momentum for MSU against Wisconsin, collecting a major decision, 15-4, to put the team in the lead, 7-6 (1/21) ... his third-consecutive match win came against Kevin Snyder of Ohio State in a 4-2 decision (1/26).
SPARTANS KEEP KNOCKING
Freshman Rayvon Foley is the fifth Spartan to take down a ranked opponent this season, defeating No. 9 Drew Mattin of Michigan, 10-3, on Friday, Feb. 9 and No. 13 Luke Welch of Purdue in a 7-1 decision against No. 24 Purdue on Friday, Feb. 2. Redshirt freshman Austin Hiles knocked off his second ranked opponent of the season on Friday, Jan. 26 against No. 2 Ohio State when he took down No. 13 Te’Shan Campbell, leading the match 4-2 at the end of the third before Campbell was disqualified for stalling. Hiles also defeated No. 14 CJ Brucki of then-ranked No. 17 Central Michigan in another thrilling, buzzer-beater decision, 12-10, in his first start as a Spartan. Redshirt freshman 157-pounder Jake Tucker earned a 7-6 decision over No. 12 Jake Short at No. 14 Minnesota on Jan. 7. Redshirt senior Javier Gasca has defeated three ranked opponents so far this season (No. 12 Eli Stickley of Wisconsin, No. 16 Sal Profaci of Michigan and No. 14 Michael Longo of Oklahoma), and 174-pound sophomore Drew Hughes also recorded a victory over Brucki from Central Michigan.
NCAA QUALIFIER HUGHES OUT FOR 2018 SEASON
Nationally-ranked 174-pounder and NCAA Qualifier Drew Hughes will miss the remaining 2018 season due to injury and will receive a medical hardship. Hughes, a sophomore from Lowell, Indiana, placed second at the MSU Open and helped the Spartans to a dual win at Buffalo with a 4-3 decision over Ryan Kromer. Last season, Hughes was Michigan State’s Outstanding Freshman Award recipient after becoming the first Spartan freshman to qualify for the NCAA Championships since Sean McMurray in 2011. At NCAA Championships, Hughes was one win away from earning All-America honors, and finished the season as the team’s leader in wins (29) and technical falls (6).
AN EXCELLENT EDINBORO OPEN
The Spartans represented at the Edinboro Open in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, Feb. 3, three of which placed. Freshman Nathan Atienza claimed third place at 157 pounds, tallying a 3-1 record. Atienza has placed in four tournaments this season. Fellow freshmen Jaden Enriquez (149) and Cameron Caffey (184) took fourth place in their respective weight classes. Enriquez recorded his first two falls of the season at the tournament, with his quickest pin coming at 1:03, and also marked his fifth placement at an open tournament this season. Caffey added two falls and a technical fall, claiming the team lead overall with three tech. falls on the season. Redshirt freshman Alex Hrisopoulos went 5-1 on the day at 141 pounds, missing tournament placement due to the NCAA match rule, but claiming the team lead in falls with nine on the season. Freshman Clay Smith recorded two falls at 133 pounds, as did freshman Chase Beard at heavyweight. Smith secured his quickest pin of the season at 2:12.
CHANDLER IN SECOND YEAR AS HEAD COACH
Michigan State head coach Roger Chandler is in his 21st season on the Spartan wrestling staff, but his second as head coach, taking over the reins of the MSU program from longtime head coach Tom Minkel, who directed the program since 1991, and retired following his 25th season at Michigan State in 2015-16.
In his first season as head coach, Chandler led the Spartans to a 10th-place finish at Big Ten Championships, the team’s best finish since 2012. MSU’s 38.5 points at the meet was their highest total since 2012, showing the signs of the program’s progress in Chandler’s first year acting as head coach. The Spartans also qualified three for NCAA Championships for the first time since 2013 in Chandler’s first year at the helm of the program.
SPARTAN ASSISTANT COACHES
• Former Spartan All-American Chris Williams is in the second year of his second stint on the MSU staff as an assistant coach. Williams had served as the head wrestling coach at Adrian College since November 2014, where he restarted the program and led the Bulldogs in their first season of competition in 31 years in 2015-16. He previously was an assistant coach at Michigan State, along with Chandler, for eight seasons (2005-13).
• Former Central Michigan All-American and U.S. Senior Nationals Champion Wynn Michalak enters his second season as Spartans’ assistant wrestling coach. One of the most successful wrestlers in Central Michigan history, Michalak was a four-time Mid-American Conference Champion (2005-08), three-time MAC Wrestler of the Year (2006-08), and a three-time NCAA All-American (2005, 2006, 2008), including a runner-up finish at 197 pounds in 2008. He won the 2015 U.S. Senior Nationals title at 97 kg/213 pounds on Dec. 19, 2015, in Las Vegas, and competed in the past two U.S. Olympic wrestling trials.
COACH CHANDLER ON HOSTING BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
“This is a great opportunity for our guys to compete in their own backyard in one of the biggest events of the year. I think that gives them a little extra incentive when they go out there and compete. These opportunities don’t come along very often, and I look forward to watching these guys take advantage of the opportunity.”
COACH CHANDLER ON WHAT THE TEAM HAS WORKED ON
“Less is more at this point. It’s just refining individually what they need to work on. Practices have been shortened and we’re just trying to peak their bodies for this event.”
COACH CHANDLER ON IF BEING AT HOME MAKES THIS EVENT SPECIAL FOR THE FRESHMEN
“There’s no doubt about it. I think we have six freshmen competing in the event and to have the normalcy of everything at home will allow them to ease in to the competition. There won’t be so many unexpected things. We’re not going to change our routine too much since we’re at home. It’s just trying to focus on them individually and get the best out of them from a performance standpoint.”
COACH CHANDLER ON WHAT IT TAKES TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
“One match at a time. That is the most important thing. You can’t get caught looking ahead in the bracket. This tournament is relentless in so many ways, and you have to focus on your first opponent. You can’t be looking ahead because as soon as you get caught looking ahead is when bad things happen. It’s one match at a time, take care of the opponent in front of you, and based on the result of that match, hit the reset button and focus on the next opponent.”
LAST TIME OUT: SPARTAN WRESTLING SPLITS ON SENIOR DAY
Michigan State wrestling split its two matches, hosting a tri-meet with Clarion and Eastern Michigan at Jension Field House on Friday for Senior Day. After a triumphant, 22-15 defeat over Clarion in the opener, the Spartans then fell to Eastern Michigan, taking the Eagles to the wire, 21-19.
The middle match of the day was Clarion against Eastern Michigan, resulting in an 18-12 win for Clarion.
MSU honored its lone senior wrestler, 141-pounder Javier Gasca, and two senior managers, Alexandra Sanchez and Amanda Craig. Gasca won his last match on the platform inside Jenison Field House, taking down EMU’s Sa’Derian Perry, 5-2. The Spartan faithful sent their senior off with a standing ovation after his win.
“I don’t know if I’ve taken it all in yet,” Gasca said about the standing ovation and emotions of Senior Night. “I don’t think there are enough words that can describe the feeling of what it’s like being here this entire time, not only to get a win on Senior Night, and my last home dual, but I haven’t been winning not nearly as much as I have been or what I’m used to. So it’s great to get back on track headed into the most important part of the season and my career.”
“I’m going to miss everything about wrestling here at Jenison Field House. It’s amazing. If you haven’t been to a dual here, you need to come check it out for yourself next year because I can’t describe the feeling you get competing in front of your friends and your family and the great Spartan fans, and our team. I’m going to miss it all, from the weight cutting to the competing, I’m going to miss it all,” Gasca said.
After the match, Michigan State head coach Roger Chandler had high praise for his lone senior, who has been with the program since 2013.
“Javier has obviously been in a slump the second half of the year, and he’s been slowly coming out of it,” Chandler said. “Even the match he lost today, it was against a guy who is ranked fifth in the country, and I think Javier very well could have won that match. The biggest thing is that he’s getting back to his offense and believing in what he’s doing.
Freshman 125-pounder Rayvon Foley started off both matches with a statement for the Spartans, earning a technical fall and putting MSU up in bonus points early. Ranked No. 17 nationally by InterMat, Foley improved to 25-7 in regular season matches overall, collecting a team-leading 46 dual points.
At 157 pounds, redshirt-freshman Jake Tucker also garnered two technical falls for MSU, winning his first two home dual matches of the season.
Both matches came down to the final bout at heavyweight. In the first match against Clarion, redshirt-freshman Christian Rebottaro came through with a pin at 2:50 in the first period, giving the Spartans a 22-15 match win. Though Rebottaro put up a fight in his match against Eastern Michigan, he dropped an extremely close, 2-1, decision.
“I thought most of our guys wrestled really hard, but you can’t be giving up bonus points and relaxing out there,” Chandler said. “There were some really good things that happened in that dual. Obviously, you never want to get a loss, but it was great to see guys like Shwan Shadaia wrestling the entire time and putting points up on the board and believing in his shots, Rayvon Foley going out and getting bonus points, Javier Gasca is attacking again and Austin Eicher wrestled his best match of the year, and even Nick May, he lost a close match but he battled the whole time. There’s some good things to take from that match.”
NCAA qualifiers will be announced following the Big Ten Championships. The 2018 NCAA Championships will be at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 15-17.