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Six Spartans Ready for NCAA Championships

Anthony Jones Jr. is the No. 10 seed at 157 pounds in the NCAA Championships.

March 14, 2012

2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships
 Location St. Louis, Mo. | Scottrade Center
 Session 1 Thursday, 12 p.m. ET (First round)
 Session 2 Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET (Second round, consolation rounds)
 Session 3 Friday, 11 a.m. ET (Quarterfinals, consolation rounds)
 Session 4 Friday, 7 p.m. ET (Semifinals)
 Session 5 Saturday, 11 a.m. ET (Medal rounds)
 Session 6 Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (Finals)
 Social Media Twitter updates @wrestlingmsu and @ncaawrestling
 Brackets Complete Brackets
 Tournament Information NCAA Wrestling Championships Website
 Coverage Sessions 1-5 on; Sessions 3-5 on ESPNU; Session 6 on ESPN
 Notes Michigan State
 Statistics  Michigan State
 Multimedia   NCAA Championships Video Preview | Coach Minkel Podcast | Steve Andrus Podcast | David Cheza Podcast | Ian Hinton Podcast | Curran Jacobs Podcast | Anthony Jones Podcast | Dan Osterman Podcast

Six Spartan wrestlers - Steve Andrus (heavyweight), David Cheza (157 pounds), Ian Hinton (184), Curran Jacobs (174), Anthony Jones Jr. (157) and Dan Osterman (149) - will represent Michigan State in this week's NCAA Wrestling Championships held Thursday-Saturday (March 15-17) at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

All six Spartans automatically qualified with their placing at the Big Ten Championships. A total of 330 wrestlers will compete (33 per weight class) at the NCAA Championships, which start Thursday morning at 12 p.m. ET and conclude with the finals Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET.

"We're really looking forward to it," head coach Tom Minkel said. "The NCAA Tournament is just so competitive and such a great event. It will be a great experience for all of our kids. Really it is about staying focused on the wrestling and not getting caught up in the arena or in the crowd and all the excitement that goes along with NCAAs."

• At heavyweight, junior Steve Andrus will be making his first career trip to the NCAA Championships. The Manhattan, Kan., native finished sixth in his first Big Ten Championships and owns a 23-14 record. Andrus will go against Andrew Delaney (27-2) of The Citadel in round one.

• Senior David Cheza will wrestle Brandon Knight (21-9) of Chattanooga in the first round at 165 pounds. Cheza, who owns a 15-10 record, is making his second trip to nationals and his first in the 165-pound weight class. The product of Grand Blanc, Mich., automatically qualified by placing eighth at the Big Ten Championships, including an upset win over fourth-seeded Ben Jordan of Wisconsin in the consolation round. Cheza was the only unseeded wrestler at the Big Ten Championships to automatically qualify for the NCAAs.

• Senior Ian Hinton, who qualified for the NCAA Championships at 174 pounds in 2009 and 2010, is making his first appearance at nationals in the 184-pound weight class. Hinton took sixth at the Big Ten Championships and enters St. Louis with a 20-13 overall record. He will take on No. 12 seed Jonathan Fausey (21-3) of Virginia on Thursday morning.

• For the second consecutive year, senior Curran Jacobs qualified for the NCAA Championships at 174 pounds as he placed eighth at the Big Ten Championships. Jacobs ranks second on the team in wins with 24 and will match up against Mike Dessino (29-14) of Bloomsburg in the first round.

• At 157 pounds, senior Anthony Jones Jr. earned a No. 10 seed for his 21-8 overall record and fourth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. Jones drew Oklahoma State's Albert White (24-9) in Thursday's first round; Jones defeated White, 6-3, earlier this season at the Reno Tournament of Champions. This marks Jones' third appearance in the NCAA Championships, as he also earned a bid as a sophomore in 2009 and a junior in 2010.

• Junior Dan Osterman, who leads the team in both victories (25) and falls (6), will be making his second straight trip to nationals after placing ninth at 149 pounds at the Big Ten Championships. The Carson City, Mich., native will face Kevin Tao (19-14) of American in the first round.

Michigan State Lineup at NCAA Championships
 149 Dan Osterman (Jr., 25-15)
 157 Anthony Jones Jr. (Sr., 21-8)
 165 David Cheza (Sr., 15-10)
 174 Curran Jacobs (Sr., 24-11)
 184 Ian Hinton (Sr., 20-13)
 Hwt. Steve Andrus (Jr., 23-14)

• Spartan wrestlers have won 25 individual NCAA titles.
• MSU's last National Champion was Franklin Gomez, who won the 133-pound title in 2009.
• Michigan State won the 1967 National Championship and has placed in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships 24 times in program history.
• Coach Minkel's highest finish at the NCAA Championships was third in 1995; Minkel has placed in the top 25 at the NCAA Championships 13 times during his career at MSU.

• A total of 330 wrestlers (33 per weight class) will wrestle in the NCAA Championships (287 automatic qualifiers; 43 at-large selections).
• The NCAA announced the qualifier allocations for the 2012 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; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches ranking.
• This year, the following allocation numbers per weight class for the Big Ten were: 125 (6), 133 (7), 141 (5), 149 (9), 157 (6), 165 (8), 174 (9), 184 (7), 197 (7), and heavyweight (10).

Junior Dan Osterman had an up-and-down dual season with a 5-9 mark but finished in ninth at the Big Ten Championships and qualified for his second straight NCAA Championships at 149 pounds. He placed second at the MSU Open and third at the Reno Tournament of Champions this season. Osterman leads the team with 25 wins overall and has recorded six falls this season.

"I am looking at the NCAAs that everyone is going into it 0-0," Osterman said. "I did have an up-and-down season, I had some good wins but also had some pretty bad loses. I'm not going to focus on that. Going into the tournament I am just going to focus on one match at a time and just having fun and wrestling my best."

Senior Anthony Jones Jr. has emerged as a vocal and demonstrative leader after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury. Jones had a team best 11 dual victories and is 21-8 overall after placing fourth at the Big Ten Championships. He finished the regular season ranked No. 9 in the nation at 157 pounds and is looking to earn All-America honors for the first time in his career.

"I've been pretty hungry, working hard and ready for it now," Jones said. "Everything is on the line and I'm going to put everything that I've worked on out there on the mat, and hopefully come out All-American. I think I am peaking perfectly right now. The training is paying off and my body is feeling good, I am ready now."

Senior David Cheza is 15-10 and makes his second career trip to the NCAA Championships, his first at 165 pounds, after missing the majority of last season due to a shoulder injury. At the Big Ten Championships, Cheza finished in eighth place and was forced to forfeit his last match due to injury. He qualified for NCAAs in 2010 as a sophomore at 149 pounds and has made the jump in weight classes this season to accommodate other starters in the lineup. Cheza is also looking to earn All-America honors for the first time in his career.

"I am very excited, it is a fresh start and a great opportunity," Cheza said. "I am happy to be at the big show and am looking forward to it. It's the end of the year, everyone is banged up, and there are a lot of people going to this tournament that haven't been there before and they make it bigger than what it is. They get immersed in the show. Experiencing that before, I think I am more prepared, and mentally prepared this time and not worrying about those other factors that could hurt me."

Senior Curran Jacobs (24-11) finished the regular season ranked No. 18 in the nation at 174 and has three wins this season over ranked wrestlers. On the mat is not the only place that the senior grappler shines, as Jacobs is an aspiring actor and theater major. He has played the lead role of Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "A Streetcar Named Desire", in October 2011 and starred as Orlando in Shakespeare comedy "As You Like It" in 2010.

"I learned that it's a huge facility, there is a lot going on and basically to not let it get to your head, the mat is the same size," Jacobs said of having experience in the NCAAs. "Go out there and have fun and do what you do best and stick with what is working for you, that's what I plan to do."

Senior Ian Hinton will make his third trip to the NCAA Championships after placing sixth at the Big Ten Championships at 184 pounds. Hinton qualified in 2009 and 2010 at 174 pounds, but it will be his first appearance at NCAAs at 184 pounds. Hinton took second in the MSU Open and second in the Edinboro Open earlier this year. He is 20-13 overall this season and went 6-5 in dual matches. Hinton is the fourth MSU senior competing in the NCAA Championships.

"It feels really good, I haven't been there since my sophomore year," Hinton said. "I went both my freshman and sophomore years and didn't have the year I wanted last year and finally made it back. I want to end my career on a good note and go out there and hopefully be All-American."

Junior heavyweight Steve Andrus compiled a 23-14 record this season and placed sixth at the Big Ten Championships, qualifying him for his first career trip to the NCAA Championships. Andrus split time in the starting lineup this season with sophomore Mike McClure and even though it is his first time at NCAAs, Andrus has international wrestling experience that will help him on wrestling's biggest stage.

"I am really excited, it is a really great chance to make a name for myself," Andrus said. "All of the other guys have a little bit more experience but I am excited to go in fresh and not have any idea, so I'm really happy about it."

On the NCAA Wrestling Championships and the madness of March... "There is plenty of madness in NCAA wrestling too," head coach Tom Minkel said. "We're really looking forward to it. The NCAA Tournament is just so competitive and such a great event. I heard that it sold out, over 17,000 people over three days in St. Louis. It will be a great experience for all of our kids."

On five of the six guys having NCAA Championship experience... "We wrestle in some pretty good venues but the NCAAs is like nothing else because first of all, you wrestle against the best competition, but secondly it is a 17,000 seat arena packed to the gills and it is a unique experience for a lot of kids," Minkel said. "Having been there makes it a little less intimidating. We try to replicate it in here which is almost impossible; we bring in some crowd noise and try to get them thinking about that environment. But until you have wrestled in a full arena, you just can't replicate that. Having that experience will help our guys quite a bit."

On this being a clean start and a new season... "It really is a new season and a new start, everyone is starting from scratch," Minkel said. "Really it is about staying focused on the wrestling and not getting caught up in the arena or in the crowd and all the excitement that goes along with NCAAs. Our mission this week is really to get our kids to focus on the match, keep good position, create some pressure, be relentless on top and keep moving off the bottom."

On qualifying six wrestlers and having them wrestle their best at the right time... "I do feel that our team, for the most part, stepped up at the Big Ten Championships," Minkel said. "Anthony had a couple of huge wins there, and David Cheza had a monster win to get into the field. Curran (Jacobs) wrestled well. I really felt that, at the Big Ten's, we wrestled pretty close to our best event. And that's the best time to do it. Now we have to carry that over for one more week and wrestle our best in St. Louis."

On the four seniors wrestling in their last event... "Certainly it is powerful motivation not to hold back because there is nothing to hold back for, it is now or never," Minkel said. "Having the experience and having been there before, being a fourth or fifth-year guy, all of those things are positives. Hopefully we will be relaxed, but at the same time intense enough to get the job done."

The Spartans fell to No. 6 Ohio State, 24-13, on Senior Day at Jenison Field House. Michigan State wrestled hard and was in control of the dual with only two matches remaining. The Spartans won four matches in the dual and had the lead late with only two weight classes to go, but lost in the final matches. Seniors Anthony Jones Jr. (157) and Curran Jacobs (174) each recorded decisions for Michigan State.

Last season the Spartans were without two key contributors in the middle of the lineup, as both No. 9 Anthony Jones Jr. (157) and David Cheza (165) lost the majority of last season due to injury. This season they are a combined 36-18 and have each placed in two tournaments this season, including an individual title for Cheza at the MSU Open. These seniors have been counted on to add reliability to the Spartan lineup.

Head coach Tom Minkel boasts a lineup filled with experience and senior leadership in the 2011-12 season. Michigan State has six seniors, five of which are regular starters after Tyler Dickenson injured his knee in the Reno Tournament of Champions. The seniors include: Eric Olanowski (125), No. 9 Anthony Jones Jr. (157), David Cheza (165), No. 18 Curran Jacobs (174), Ian Hinton (184) and Tyler Dickenson (197). Currently the seniors are a combined 88-41 overall this season.

Michigan State senior 197-pounder Tyler Dickenson suffered a career-ending knee injury at the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 18. Dickenson was 7-1 on the season and ranked as high as No. 12 according to InterMat.

Dickenson placed fourth in the Big Ten Championships a year ago and made his first trip to NCAA's last year. He defeated No. 12 A.J. Kissel of Purdue this season and owns a career record of 57-56.

Michigan State had a tough road weekend in which it faced No. 18 Northwestern on Jan. 20 and No. 6 Illinois on Jan. 22. The Spartans lost to Northwestern, 30-12, and fell to Illinois, 26-13. Senior Curran Jacobs had an outstanding weekend, picking up two decisions over ranked wrestlers over the weekend. Jacobs defeated No. 11 Lee Munster of Northwestern, 3-1, and dropped No. 10 Jordan Blanton of Illinois, 7-3.



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