McClure, Rizqallah Ready for NCAA Wrestling Championships
March 19, 2014
John Rizqallah, MIKE McCLURE HEAD TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
McClure is wrestling in his second straight NCAA Championships after placing a career-best fourth at the Big Ten Championships. The Holland, Mich., native is looking to earn All-America honors for the first-time in his career following a 2-2 showing at nationals last season. McClure, who owns a career record of 99-29, ranks tied for 18th in MSU history in wins and ninth in the school record book with 24 falls.
"I want to go there and have fun, but at the same time, finish business," said McClure. "The atmosphere (at the NCAA Championships) is insane. You have to make that atmosphere as small as possible, and make it so it's just you and the other guy, and know that everything else shouldn't affect the match. If you can do that, a lot of guys perform really well that way."
Ranked seventh by InterMat, McClure has collected a 27-7 overall record this season, including a 14-4 mark in dual meets (5-3 Big Ten). He's also the team leader with 10 falls and is 5-6 against ranked opponents. He went 4-2 to take fourth at the Big Ten Championships, including victories over No. 8 Connor Medbery of Wisconsin and No. 12 Jon Gingrich of Penn State. McClure owns an 8-7 record against the NCAA Championships field. Among his last seven victories, five have been by fall.
"For the most part, I've been going out there and wrestling every second of the match," McClure remarked on his recent success of pinning opponents. "When you do that, things will present themselves; a guy might be taking a break for a second, and you can catch him on his back."
McClure went 9-1 in open tournaments and claimed first place at both the Northern Iowa Open in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Dec. 14 and the Cradle Gear Invitational in Lock Haven, Pa., on Dec. 29.
Rizqallah is also appearing in the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row. He punched his ticket to Oklahoma City with a 4-2 decision over Indiana's Luke Sheridan in the seventh-place match at the Big Ten Championships; the top-seven placers in the 184-pound weight class in the Big Ten earned an automatic bid to nationals. Rizqallah went 2-2 at the conference meet, including an upset victory in overtime against fourth-seeded and 13th-ranked TJ Dudley of Nebraska.
"It's less nerve-wracking and I know what to expect," said Rizqallah about his second trip to the NCAA Championships. "I feel a lot better and I'm way healthier (entering the championships) than last year. I'm more confident in my wrestling."
The Allegan, Mich., ranked second on the team with 11 dual wins and has produced a 20-10 overall record this season. He entered the national rankings in January after going 4-0 and taking first place at the Cradle Gear Invitational on Dec. 29 in Lock Haven, Pa. Rizqallah, who went 0-2 at the NCAA Championships last season, owns a 55-29 career record. He has posted a 9-8 record against the NCAA Championships field and has defeated both of his possible opponents in the first round this season (2-1 vs. Sheridan; 1-0 vs. Garcia).
MICHIGAN STATE: NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY
MSU's last National Champion was Franklin Gomez, who won the 133-pound title in 2009.
Michigan State won the 1967 National Championship and is one of just 11 Division I wrestling programs to win a national title, along with Arizona State, Cornell College, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Penn State.
MSU 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.
QUOTING MSU HEAD COACH Tom Minkel
On the NCAA Championships...
On Mike McClure and John Rizqallah making their second trip to the NCAA Championships...
On Mike McClure...
On John Rizqallah...
NCAA QUALIFIER INFORMATION
Each qualifying tournament, with automatic qualifying status, was awarded a minimum of one wrestler per weight class, which went 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 were awarded at the tournament based solely on place-finish.
This year, the following allocation numbers per weight class for the Big Ten were: 125 (7), 133 (8), 141 (6), 149 (6), 157 (8), 165 (8), 174 (7), 184 (7), 197 (8), and heavyweight (9).
After all of the qualifying events concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee, which includes MSU head coach Tom Minkel, met to select the remaining 40 at-large qualifiers. All weight classes consist of 33 wrestlers. The at-large selections were 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.
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