Spartans Kick Off 2017-18 Season By Hosting MSU Open
23 teams compete at Jenison Field House on Sunday.
|2017 Michigan State Open|
|Date | Time||Sunday, Nov. 5 | Prelims: 9:30 a.m. ET / Finals: 5 p.m. (approx.)|
|Location||East Lansing, Mich. | Jenison Field House|
|General Information||Michigan State Open|
|Streaming Coverage||FloWrestling Watch Live|
|Internet Coverage||Live brackets at TrackWrestling.com|
|Social Media||@wrestlingmsu | Facebook | Instagram|
Michigan State wrestling will kick off its 114th season by hosting the annual Michigan State Open on Sunday, Nov. 5. Jenison Field House will host both an open division for college and post-college wrestlers and a freshman and sophomore division. The preliminary rounds begin at 9:30 a.m. Sunday will be the Spartans' first action of the season under head coach Roger Chandler, who is in his 21st year on the Spartan wrestling staff and in his second season as head coach.
MSU will be one of 23 teams represented at the Michigan State Open, and the field includes Big Ten Conference competition from No. 14 Illinois, Indiana, No. 3 Michigan, Northwestern, No. 2 Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin. Two additional ranked opponents in No. 6 Arizona State and in-state foe No. 20 Central Michigan are also in the field of competition.
SPARTANS TO WATCH
Redshirt senior 141-pounder Javier Gasca is one of MSU's three returning NCAA qualifiers... placed third at the Big Ten Championships, the highest individual finish for a Spartan wrestler since Frank Gomez won the Big Ten title in 2009 ... finished the season with a 27-10 record ... led Michigan State in dual points (41), shared the team-lead in dual wins (10) and falls (8) and ranked second in wins (27) last season ... tied for second in tech. falls (5) and tied for third in major decisions (3) ... owns a career record of 63-28 ... ranked No. 8 by Win Wrestling Magazine, No. 10 by Flo Wrestling ... last season, won back-to-back opens, finishing the Eastern Michigan Open with a perfect 5-0 record and two falls and also collecting a 5-0 record at the Michigan State Open.
Redshirt sophomore Austin Eicher also returns to the MSU lineup as a two-time NCAA qualifier ... finished his first season as a Spartan with a 22-18 overall record ... placed eighth at the Big Ten Championships ... posted five falls and four majors decisions ... ranked No. 16 by Flo Wrestling ... last season, was ranked in the top 20 throughout ... came to MSU last season as transfer from NIU, where he qualified for NCAA Championships after winning the MAC Conference Championship at 133 pounds.
Sophomore Drew Hughes rounds out the returning NCAA Qualifying Spartans at 174 pounds ... became the first Spartan freshman to qualify for NCAA Champions since Sean McMurray in 2011 ... was the No. 15 seed at NCAA Championships ... finished his first season with a 29-10 overall record, winning 24 of his last 33 matches ... shutout 15 of his last 20 opponents last season, collecting 16 shutouts overall ... placed fifth at Big Ten Championships ... last season, ranked in the top 20 throughout by several different publications ... led the team in wins (29) and technical falls (6), as well as shared the team-lead in dual wins (10) ... second on the team in dual points (40) and third in falls (7) ... named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week on Dec. 20 ... ranked No. 9 by FloWrestling and No. 10 by Win Wrestling Magazine ... last season, won the Reno Tournament of Champions as well as the Michigan State Open, collecting two falls.
157-pounder Jake Tucker returns to the Spartans after a redshirt season ... in open tournaments, finished with an 11-8 record ... won the Alma Open with a perfect 3-0 record, and all wins were bonus point victories with a fall, major decision and tech. fall ... placed sixth at the EMU Open, finishing 3-2 ... quickest pin of the season was 1:13 over Max Fisher of Northern Illinois at the MSU Open.
Freshman RayVon Foley joins the Spartan lineup at 125 pounds ... Greco-Roman champion at 120 pounds at the 2017 Junior Nationals ... was the 2017 State Champion, becoming the first champion from Pioneer High School since 1989 ... Named Ann Arbor Wrestler of the Year in 2016 and 2017.
Heavyweight redshirt freshman Christian Rebottaro returns after a redshirt season ... in open tournaments, he compiled a 17-10 record and won 12 of his last 17 matches ... he totaled five falls, the quickest at 0:36 over Raiden MacLeon of Davenport at the Alma Open where he took third place ... also came in third at the NUWAY Open, collecting a 3-1 record.
COACH CHANDLER ON WHO TO WATCH FOR...
"I'm looking forward to watching a lot of our redshirt freshmen as they transition into year two. Jake Tucker -- we fully expect him to have a major impact on our program. Nick May, he redshirted last year and he's trying to compete for a spot at 184, but we also have junior Shwan Shadaia there. Shwan's been a leader during the offseason and during the pre-season. I think he's ready to take a lead in the program. Christian Rebottaro has come a long way in a full year in his development as a wrestler. I'm looking forward to how that transitions after having a year under his belt. I'm excited for those guys. Seeing Austin Thompson at 149 pounds, he's coming down a weight class. He was really competitive last year at 157, and I think 149 is the more ideal weight for him."
SPARTANS IN PRESEASON RANKINGS
Senior Javier Gasca - 141 pounds
No. 8 by Win Wrestling Magazine
No. 8 by Flo Wrestling
No. 10 by Trackwrestling
Junior Austin Eicher -- 133/141 pounds
No. 14 by InterMat (133 pounds)
No. 15 by Trackwrestling (133 pounds)
No. 16 by Flo Wrestling (133 pounds)
Sophomore Drew Hughes -- 174 pounds
No. 9 by Flo Wrestling
No. 9 by Trackwrestling
No. 10 by Win Wrestling Magazine
MSU HAS NINE LETTERWINNERS, 15 NEWCOMERS IN 2017-18
Michigan State returns nine letterwinners from last season. MSU has 17 newcomers, including 14 freshmen and one transfer from Lake Erie. Ten of the newcomers hail from Michigan. The remaining five are natives to Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, Pennsylvania and California.
CONFERENCE ACTION THIS WEEKEND
Twelve Big Ten Conference teams take the mat this weekend for the first action of the 2017-18 season. Illinois, Maryland and Rutgers begin on Saturday in dual meets, while Ohio State kicks off at the Princeton Open. On Sunday, Michigan State hosts four other conference squads at the MSU Open. Indiana, Minnesota and Nebraska hit the mat for open tournaments as well.
A LOOK AT LAST YEAR'S OPEN
At the 2016 MSU Open, the Spartans claimed two event wins en route to 12 medal wins in total. Returners Gasca (141) and Hughes (165) led the Spartans with first-place finishes, both logging two falls, and Eicher (133) took third from a major decision and three decisions. Redshirt freshman Jwan Britton and redshirt freshman Austin Thompson picked up a pair of fourth-place finishes, and redshirt freshman Christian Rebottaro added a fifth-place finish. Redshirt freshman Nick May and redshirt junior Matthew Okaiye rounded out the medal finishes from returning Spartans in sixth place.
CHANDLER BEGINS SECOND YEAR AS HEAD COACH
Michigan State head coach Roger Chandler is in his 21st season on the Spartan wrestling staff, but his second as head coach, taking over the reins of the MSU program from longtime head coach Tom Minkel, who directed the program since 1991, and retired following his 25th season at Michigan State in 2015-16.
In his first season as head coach, Chandler led the Spartans to a 10th-place at Big Ten Championships, the team's best finish since 2012. MSU's 38.5 points at the meet was their highest total since 2012, showing the signs of the program's progress in Chandler's first year acting as head coach. The Spartans also qualified three for NCAA Championships for the first time since 2013 in Chandler's first year at the helm of the program.
Chandler is the ninth coach in the history of the program, which dates back to 1886 and has generated 25 NCAA Champions, 68 Big Ten Champions, eight Big Ten Championships and one NCAA Championship.
While on the Spartan coaching staff, Chandler has helped produce 10 different All-Americans and six Big Ten Champions for a total of 22 All-America selections and nine Big Ten individual titles during his time at Michigan State. He also coached three-time All-American Franklin Gomez, who won a national title in 2009 at 133 pounds. In addition, he handles a variety of administrative duties for the program. Chandler, who began his coaching career as an assistant at MSU in 1997, was promoted to associate head coach in 2011.
SPARTAN ASSISTANT COACHES
Former Spartan All-American Chris Williams is in the second year of his second stint on the MSU staff as an assistant coach. Williams had served as the head wrestling coach at Adrian College since November 2014, where he restarted the program and led the Bulldogs in their first season of competition in 31 years in 2015-16. He previously was an assistant coach at Michigan State, along with Chandler, for eight seasons (2005-13).
Former Central Michigan All-American and U.S. Senior Nationals Champion Wynn Michalak returns for his second season as Spartans' assistant wrestling coach. One of the most successful wrestlers in Central Michigan history, Michalak was a four-time Mid-American Conference Champion (2005-08), three-time MAC Wrestler of the Year (2006-08), and a three-time NCAA All-American (2005, 2006, 2008), including a runner-up finish at 197 pounds in 2008. He won the 2015 U.S. Senior Nationals title at 97 kg/213 pounds on Dec. 19, 2015, in Las Vegas, and competed in the past two U.S. Olympic wrestling trials.
COACH CHANDLER ON 2017 MSU OPEN...
"The number one thing is, from the national standpoint this is the most competitive Michigan State Open we've had in quite a few years. We have five top-25 teams, which definitely raises the level of the tournament automatically. I think it's great to get the season started off to set the tone of the level that we need to compete at for the upcoming season."
COACH CHANDLER ON BEGINNING THE SEASON AT HOME...
"It's great because they can go through their normal routines such as they're going to be in their own wrestling room doing warmups, they can make weight in their own wrestling room, they get to sleep in their own beds. Having that sense of normalcy and getting acclimated -- we've got a lot of guys where this will be their first college competition, so I think it definitely allows them to ease into the college competition schedule."
COACH CHANDLER ON THE START OF THE 2017-18 SEASON...
"Any wrestler who has visions of having the ultimate success, I believe they do all this training because this is the reward -- competing. This is what we train for. This is why we sacrifice so much. This is the reward. I see excitement happening in our guys right now and I think they're ready to kick off the season and continue to grow our program."
Following the MSU Open, the Spartans will travel to Ypsilanti, Michigan for the annual Eastern Michigan Open on Nov. 11.