Spartan Wrestling Competing At University Nationals This Weekend
MSU will have 18 wrestlers in action as freestyle season continues
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State wrestling will be represented by 18 wrestlers in action this weekend at the 2017 United World Wrestling University Nationals in Akron, Ohio on Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4. The two-day event will be held at the Louis and Freda Stile Athletic Field House on the University of Akron campus.
"Right after we finished the regular season, we sat down as a team and we reflected on how we had many some really big gains as a program this year and we have to continue to climb that ladder to become a better program," MSU head coach Roger Chandler said. "Part of becoming a better program is committing to a training cycle, committing to competing. I believe that when you compete, you are able to see areas where you've made improvements and you find areas where you may still need to work on things. That's the great part of wrestling is there's always areas that everybody needs to improve on."
Headlining the Spartans' 18 wrestlers is two-time NCAA Tournament qualifier Austin Eicher, who was a redshirt sophomore this past season. Eicher will be competing at 65 kg. Three other MSU wrestlers in action this weekend were redshirt freshmen: Dillon Ellsworth (70 kg), Logan Ritchie (74 kg) and Austin Thompson (70 kg).
The other 14 Spartans were true freshmen during the 2016-17 season: Jwan Britton (65 kg), Ethan Curtin (57 kg), Lucas Hall (61 kg), Austin Hiles (74 kg), Alex Hrisopoulos (65 kg), Kole Krauss (65 kg), Danny Kruse (86 kg), Matt Lloyd (125 kg), Nick May (86 kg), Christian Rebottaro (125 kg), Jackson Renicker (61 kg), Julian Saldana (57 kg), Matt Santos (61 kg) and Jake Tucker (70 kg).
"The big thing is that we have a very young team and we've got a lot of talent up and down the line, most of these guys are true freshmen who are making a direct impact on this program and we're becoming better because of it. They're committed to making our program better. You build this culture within your program of continually getting better and trying to achieve success. We've got a young crew we're taking down there, but they're setting the stage as we head into next year, this is their last official competition before next season and I think it is important for them to train and compete because it shows the advancements they've made both individually and as a program, and I think it also shows the things we need to work on as a program. This is a big time national event," Chandler said.
This is the second freestyle action of the spring for the Spartans, as several wrestlers were in action at the 2017 UWW Junior Freestyle Championships, held in Las Vegas, Nevada in late April.
"As a program, we don't have a whole lot of freestyle experience at a national level, but we do have some guys who have more experience than others while coming up through the high school ranks," Chandler said. "Christian Rebottaro has an extensive background in freestyle wrestling over the years. He did really well at the UWW Junior Nationals and qualified for the Junior World Team Trials next weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska. This weekend is just another opportunity for him to prepare for that event to try to make a world team," Chandler said.
Rebottaro will also be in action next weekend, competing for a spot on the United States Junior World Team in Lincoln, Nebraska.
"Another one of wrestlers who did well at the UWW Junior Nationals was Alex Hrisopoulous. He didn't have a whole lot of freestyle experience before that, I think he had wrestled a little bit, but he showed us some things and we're really optimistic about what the future holds for him," Chandler said.
Michigan State's future is bright as the Spartans only lost three seniors from 2016-17, Chandler's first season at the helm of the MSU program. The Spartans' 10th-place finish at the Big Ten Championships was their highest since also placing 10th at the 2012 Championships. MSU's 38.5 points nearly matches its point total of the last three years combined of 44.5 after 10.5 points in 2016, 12.5 points in 2015 and 21.5 points in 2014. The 38.5 points is also the Spartans' highest point total since 41.5 in 2012, showing the signs of the program's progress in the first year under Chandler.
"It is important to make a statement as a program as we build toward the future that all facets of wrestling are important and any chance we have to get better, we have to seize that opportunity and take advantage of it," Chandler said.
Fans can follow all of the action in Akron live on FloWrestling.org, which will have live results and stream the University Nationals, as well as the World Team Trials next weekend in Lincoln. The World Team Trials are also live on Roku and Apple TV.