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Spartans Head to Illinois for 2013 Big Ten Championships

Junior Michael McClure is 29-3 on the season and the No. 5 seed at heavyweight.

March 7, 2013

2013 Big Ten Wrestling Championships
 Location Champaign, Ill. | Assembly Hall
 Session 1 Saturday, 11 a.m. ET (First round, Quarterfinals)
 Session 2 Saturday, 6 p.m. ET (Semifinals, Wrestlebacks)
 Session 3 Sunday, 12:30 p.m. ET (Consolation semifinals, Seventh-place matches)
 Session 4 Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET (First, third and fifth-place matches)
 Coverage Sessions 1 and 2 will be streamed live, free of charge, through the Big Ten Digital Network on; Session 3 will also be streamed live, for a fee; Session 4 will be televised live on the BTN.
Official Big Ten Championships Website
 Social Media Twitter updates @wrestlingmsu
 Notes Michigan State | Big Ten
 Statistics  Michigan State

The Michigan State wrestling team heads to the Big Ten Championships this weekend (March 9-10) in Champaign, Ill., at Assembly Hall. Seven Spartans earned pre-seeds, including six wrestlers who will be appearing at Big Ten's for the first time in their career.

The Big Ten Championships are the most prestigious conference championships in the nation, year in and year out. Eight teams from the Big Ten are currently ranked in the Top 25 of the NWCA/USA Today Coaches' Poll, including five in the top eight (No. 2 Iowa, No. 3 Penn State, No. 4 Minnesota, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 8 Illinois).

• Junior Michael McClure is currently ranked No. 6 in the country according to InterMat and will be the No. 5 seed at the Big Ten Championships. McClure is 29-3 on the season and 15-3 in dual matches while also recording seven falls. He was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week twice this season and defeated No. 5 Jarrod Trice of Central Michigan in the last dual of the season, 3-2 by tiebreaker, with a nine-second riding time advantage in the extra periods. He is 8-2 against ranked opponents this season and placed first at the Eastern Michigan Open, Michigan State Open and the Reno Tournament of Champions.
John Rizqallah, a sophomore, is ranked No. 17 at 184 pounds and is the No. 4 seed this weekend. He finished the season 22-7 and was 12-4 in duals, second best on the team. Three of the four losses came against wrestlers ranked inside the top eight. Rizqallah defeated No. 11 Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa, 6-3, and placed second at the Eastern Michigan Open and third at the Reno Tournament of Champions.
Dan Osterman, the lone senior competing for the Spartans, is the No. 9 seed at 149 pounds and is looking to cap off his career with a third straight trip to the NCAA Championships. Osterman is 18-10 and 8-7 in duals this season; he placed third at the Eastern Michigan Open and second at the Reno Tournament of Champions.
• At 157 pounds, Ryan Watts is the seventh seed and is making his first appearance at Big Ten's. Watts took over on Jan. 20 after another shoulder injury forced David Cheza out of the lineup. Watts finished the season 19-10 and 8-7 in duals. He took second at the MSU Open and fourth at the Reno Tournament of Champions.

Michigan State Probable Lineup at Big Ten Championships
 125 Brenan Lyon (Jr., 8-16)
 133 Brandon Fifield (So., 12-16)
 141 Nick Trimble (Fr., 6-21)
 149 Dan Osterman (Sr., 18-10)
 157 Ryan Watts (So., 19-10)
 165 Nick Proctor (So., 13-16)
 174 Jordan Wohlfert (Fr., 15-17)
 184 No. 17 John Rizqallah (So., 22-8)
 197 Luke Jones (So., 20-13)
 Hwt. No. 6 Michael McClure (Jr., 29-3)

• Seven Michigan State wrestlers earned pre-seeds in the Big Ten Championships, the conference announced on Monday, March 4.
• Six of the seven seeded wrestlers will make their first appearance at the Big Ten Championships.
• Sophomore John Rizqallah is the highest-seeded Spartan, coming in at fourth at 184 pounds.
• Junior Michael McClure is the No. 5 seed at heavyweight and is currently ranked No. 6 in the country by InterMat.
• At 157 pounds, sophomore Ryan Watts is the seventh seed.
• Senior Dan Osterman is the No. 8 seed at 149 pounds and is 18-10 this season and 8-7 in duals.
• Sophomore Luke Jones will be the No. 10 seed at 197 pounds.
• True freshman Jordan Wohlfert checks in at No. 11 at 174 pounds.
• At 165 pounds, sophomore Nick Proctor rounds out the field for MSU and he will be the No. 12 seed.
• The pre-seeds, as voted on by the conference's coaches, rank the top eight wrestlers in five weight classes, along with 11 or 12 schools' starters in five weight classes due to the Big Ten receiving eight or more NCAA Championships qualifier allocations in those classes.

• 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.
• Michigan State finished tied for 10th at last year's Big Ten Championships in West Lafayette, Ind.
• Coach 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).

• The NCAA announced the qualifier allocations for the 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on March 1. 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; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches ranking.
• This year, the following allocation numbers per weight class for the Big Ten are: 125 (7), 133 (7), 141 (6), 149 (8), 157 (7), 165 (8), 174 (8), 184 (6), 197 (8), and heavyweight (9).
• After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in person to select the remaining 40 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 13. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers. The at-large selections will be made based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition; qualifying event placement; quality wins; results against common opponents; winning percentage; RPI; coaches' ranking and the number of matches contested at that weight class.
• The NCAA Championships will be held March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa.

On the approach leading into Big Ten's...
"January and February were both strong, competitive months for us. We just didn't have much downtime there. Last week we were trying to back off a bit, shorten the volume and increase the intensity. This week is more about recovery and then we will ramp it and really get ready the week of the championships."

On the intensity of the Big Ten Championships...
"It is unlike any other tournament, even unlike the NCAAs. There is so much talent condensed into a small amount of teams. You get to the NCAAs, and there are guys there that have qualified but aren't nearly Big Ten level wrestlers. It's a great event. The margin of error is very small, it doesn't matter if you are a No. 1 seed or No. 8. It is really intense."

On the wrestlers that could surprise people this weekend...
"I think Ryan Watts could be a big surprise. Ryan didn't really move down to 157 until halfway through the season because David Cheza was there. Ryan will light things up. He is very similar to Anthony Jones. I don't think anyone sees him coming and he is a remarkable athlete and very savvy when it comes to competing. Luke Jones is a little under the radar as well. He is just starting to come into his own. And then the obvious guys, Dan Osterman, he could have a huge tournament and then Mike McClure, he's been wrestling very well."

On Osterman wrestling his last Big Ten's...
"It's important for him to be not too much of a risk taker. Sometimes he just goes for broke and we talked about wrestling wide open, but at the same time realize that you can't make a fatal mistake here. This is an important event for him. I think Danny has pretty good grip on that now. He is wrestling really, really tough but under control. If he does that, I don't think there is anyone in the country that he can't beat. It is a matter of him being on his game and having a good weekend."

On McClure and his first crack at Big Ten's...
"I would normally worry about that, but Mike has shown so much maturity this year. He's competed against so many tough guys and competed so well. His real strength this year has been his composure under pressure and making good decisions. I think he will be unfazed; he has shown great composure all year and I expect that to carry over into Big Ten's.

Senior Dan Osterman took ninth last season and seventh in 2011 at the Big Ten Championships, qualifying for back-to-back NCAA Championships and is looking to make it three straight. Osterman is the No. 8 seed at the championships and needs to finish in the top-eight to make the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

"I'm confident," Osterman said. "I have had an up and down season but I have been in most of the matches. I know I am capable of wrestling with anybody. Just have to wrestle smart, which is easier said than done. I like to go for the big move sometimes and it pays off, but it is also high-risk, high-reward."

John Rizqallah finished second on the team in dual wins with 12 in his first season in the starting lineup as a sophomore. Rizqallah's biggest win came against No. 11 Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa and he will have to finish in the top-six to qualify for his first NCAA Championships.

"I try to take it match-by-match," Rizqallah said. "If I win that one then I focus on the next one and hopefully I can win it. That's everyone's goal and I'm not going to sell myself short.

No. 6 Michael McClure is 29-3 this season and 8-2 against ranked opponents after beating No. 5 Jarrod Trice of Central Michigan on Feb. 22. He placed first at the Eastern Michigan Open, Michigan State Open and the Reno Tournament of Champions this season and he was named the Big Ten Wrestler of the Week on Nov. 13 after winning the MSU Open and again on Dec. 17 after winning the Reno Tournament of Champions. McClure's three losses have come at the hands of Big Ten opponents: No. 14 Connor Medbery of Wisconsin, Jon Gingrich of Penn State and No. 2 Tony Nelson of Minnesota. McClure is making his first appearance at the Big Ten Championships this weekend and has to finish in the top-nine to qualify for his first NCAAs.

Seventh-ranked Mike McClure defeated fifth-ranked Jarod Trice at heavyweight in a thrilling overtime match, but the Michigan State wrestling team fell to No. 11 Central Michigan, 27-10, on Senior Night (Feb. 22) at Jenison Field House. Michigan State honored its three seniors, David Cheza, Brenan Lyon and Dan Osterman, in a ceremony before the match.

The Spartans that qualify for the NCAA Championships after the conclusion of the Big Ten Championships will have two weeks to prepare for NCAAs. The NCAA Championships are March 21-23 at the Wells Fargo Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

The NCAA released the final coaches' panel rankings and the final Rating Percentage Index (RPI) for the 2012-13 wrestling season last week. The final rankings and the RPI will be one of the tools used as part of the selection process to determine the qualifiers for the 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Five Spartans are ranked in the latest poll:
Dan Osterman (149): No. 29 Coaches' Ranking/No. 21 RPI
Ryan Watts (157): NR/No. 26 RPI
John Rizqallah (184): No. 26 Coaches' Ranking/No. 17 RPI
Luke Jones (197): No. 21 Coaches' Ranking/No. 32 RPI
Michael McClure (285): No. 5 Coaches' Ranking/No. 7 RPI

Senior David Cheza suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and will be out for the remainder of the season. Cheza has battled injuries to both shoulders throughout his career and received a sixth-year of eligibility at the beginning of the season. Cheza won 69 matches for the Spartans while wrestling in three different weight classes. He qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2010 at 149 pounds and in 2012 at 165 pounds.

Every Big Ten opponent on the MSU schedule has been ranked at one point this season, including eight teams in the top-25 this week. The Spartans also faced a ranked Iowa State team and Central Michigan team.

Redshirt freshman Roger Wildmo went 2-0 in duals filling in for Dan Osterman. Wildmo, a three-time state champion, is 21-2 on the season, including 12 falls. Last year he led MSU in wins and falls with 28 and 15, respectively.

The Spartans are relying on young talent to contribute in the starting lineup and have had either a freshman or sophomore starting in seven different weight classes this season. Nick Trimble, a freshman at 141 pounds and Jordan Wohlfert, a freshman at 174 pounds, have each started this year for MSU, along with sophomores Brandon Fifield (133), Ryan Watts (157), Nick Proctor (165), John Rizqallah (184) and Luke Jones (197).

In 18 duals this season the Spartans have utilized 13 different starting lineups. Freshman Jordan Wohlfert (174) and Michael McClure (HWT) have been the only mainstays this season, starting in all 18 duals for Michigan State.

Michigan State wrestling head coach Tom Minkel announced on Tuesday, Jan. 15, the signing of Christian Pagdilao (Corona, Calif./Corona Santiago) to a National Letter of Intent, bringing the 2013-14 recruiting class to four student-athletes. Pagdilao will be joined by Javier Gasca (Kingsburg, Calif./Kingsburg), Josh Pennell (St. Johns, Mich./St. Johns), and Mitch Rogaliner (Temperance, Mich./Temperance Bedford) who each signed a NLI in November.



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