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McClure, Rizqallah Ready for NCAA Wrestling Championships

Senior Mike McClure is seeded seventh in the heavyweight bracket.

March 19, 2014

2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships
 Location Oklahoma City, Okla. | Chesapeake Energy Center
 Session 1 Thursday, 12 p.m. ET (first round)
 Session 2 Thursday, 7 p.m. ET (second round, consolation rounds)
 Session 3 Friday, 11 a.m. ET (quarterfinals, consolation rounds)
 Session 4 Friday, 8 p.m. ET (semifinals, consolation rounds)
 Session 5 Saturday, 11 a.m. ET (medal rounds)
 Session 6 Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (Finals)
 Social Media Twitter updates @wrestlingmsu and @ncaawrestling
 Brackets Complete Brackets Get Acrobat Reader
 Tournament Information NCAA Wrestling Championships Website
 Coverage All sessions streamed live on; Sessions 1-3 and 5 on ESPNU; Sessions 4 and 6 on ESPN
 Notes Michigan State
 Statistics  Michigan State

Senior heavyweight Mike McClure and junior 184-pounder John Rizqallah will represent Michigan State at the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships Thursday-Saturday (March 20-22) in Oklahoma, City, Okla. McClure (27-7) earned the No. 7 seed in the heavyweight bracket and will face Pittsburgh's Patrick Tasser (17-9) in the first round. Rizqallah (20-10), the No. 14 seed at 184 pounds, will take on the winner between Lock Haven's Fred Garcia (24-7) and Indiana's Luke Sheridan (27-14) in the first round. All of the matches at the NCAA Championships will be streamed live on

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).

• 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 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.

John Rizqallah is making his second consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships.


On the NCAA Championships...
"It's exciting that it's here. It's doubling exciting because I'm on the NCAA Wrestling Committee - there are six of us - and we're in charge of the NCAA Championships. Fortunately, two of us our coaches, and the other four are administrators, so they'll be doing most of the hard work, and I'll be able to coach and pitch in where I can. It does give you a behind-the-scenes look at everything that goes on. It's a big time, marvelous event, and it's great to be a part of it, both on the wrestling committee and as a coach."

On Mike McClure and John Rizqallah making their second trip to the NCAA Championships...
"I think John and Mike will represent us well. No matter how much you talk about the environment (at the NCAA Championships) and what it's going to be like, what it feels like to wrestle in front of that many people, on TV, you just can't adequately bring it to life until you're there. Having been there before is huge. They understand what it's all about; they can relax going into it, it won't be a shock. I think they'll be ready to go."

On Mike McClure...
"As I look at the brackets, I think he's in about as good of a place as he can be. The heavyweight class is just stacked. There isn't any easy way to get to the end, you're going to have to beat some awfully good kids. But that being said, the matches that he has, and the order that he has them, I think is pretty darn good. But it is important to take one match at a time. It's easy to go, `After I beat this kid, I'll have this kid.' Everybody there is good. If Mike wrestles well, he could do very well at this tournament."

On John Rizqallah...
"When John feels good, he's a dangerous opponent. I don't think there's anybody he can't beat when he is on his game. For him, being healthy is a part of it. He's a year older, he's a year more mature, and he's had a good stretch here the last few duals and in the Big Ten Championships. He's doing some good things and his confidence is building. I think as he's looked at the brackets, he understands that if he takes care of business and wrestles to his potential, that he could be in the mix."

• The NCAA announced the qualifier allocations for the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Feb. 27. 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. 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 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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