Six Spartans Ready for NCAA Championships
March 14, 2012
SIX SPARTANS SET TO COMPETE AT NCAA WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
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."
QUICK LOOK AT MSU'S NCAA QUALIFIERS
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: NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY
NCAA QUALIFIER INFORMATION
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
"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."
CONSISTENCY IN THE LINEUP
"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."
BACK WHERE HE BELONGS
"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."
THE BRIGHT LIGHTS
"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."
THIRD TIME'S A CHARM
"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."
FIRST TIME TRIP
"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."
QUOTING COACH MINKEL
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."
ANCHORS IN THE MIDDLE
DICKENSON LOST FOR SEASON
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.
WEEKEND IN ILLINOIS
at the official