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Spartans Face Tough Challenge at Eastern Michigan Duals

John Rizqallah and the Spartans will be in action at the Eastern Michigan Duals this Saturday in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Nov. 14, 2013

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State wrestling team will take on No. 6 Oregon State, Utah Valley, Gardner-Webb and Drexel in the Eastern Michigan Duals on Saturday, Nov. 16 in Ypsilanti, Mich. The rest of the team will also participate in the EMU Open, which is being held in conjunction with the EMU Duals.

The four-dual format in one day will provide MSU head coach Tom Minkel several opportunities to see how his team fares against good competition early in the season.

"Now you have to be a little cognizant of the fact that there's a team score," said Minkel on the difference between wrestling this weekend and last weekend's MSU Open. "The individual matches now matter not only in the match itself but in how they affect the team score, but we're looking forward to it. We've got a lot of duals this year and we start out with Oregon State, and they're a very good team. It'll be good to get into a dual meet environment - I'm looking forward to it."

The Spartans can travel 15 wrestlers to compete in the duals. A few of the weight classes are solidified, but others are in an open competition as the dual season begins.

"I think we have five weight classes that are pretty well set (141, 149, 157, 184, Hwt.), and we have another five that are up for grabs," said Minkel. "It's really a process in the first part of the season because we really base it not on the wrestle-offs in the room as much as you do when you compete. Traditionally in wrestling, you wrestle two guys off and the guy who's the winner goes, but wrestling in the wrestling room and wrestling in front of a large crowd are two different things entirely, so we've kind of gone to how you compete to determine who's in the lineup. We got somewhat of an idea out of the MSU Open, but over the next month we'll really probably solidify who the starters are based on how they perform."

Nine Spartans placed at last weekend's MSU Open at Jenison Field House, including all three of the Spartans' returning NCAA qualifiers. Fifth-year senior Mike McClure took second at heavyweight, while juniors Ryan Watts (157) and John Rizqallah (184) placed fourth.



"I've watched film nonstop since Sunday morning and I actually broke down every match," Minkel said. "We had 100 matches on tape and I just finished breaking them down a couple hours ago. When you're coaching a group of 30 guys you really have to understand what your global issues are and then individually we work with guys one-on-one on their specific needs. We've got a couple global issues, more than I had hoped, but that's kind of what's behind it. We look through what we can fix and we try and go work on it.

"But we did some good things in some places. I thought Nick Trimble wrestled particularly well (at 149). He's made some huge strides from last year. Garth Yenter, who's a red-shirt freshman (133), had a very good tournament; he kind of surprised us in how he wrestled. Mitch Rogaliner, another true freshman (at 125), finished in second in his first college tournament, did a really nice job. Those performances stood out."

This will mark the first-ever meeting for the Spartans against Oregon State, Utah Valley and Gardner-Webb. MSU defeated Drexel, 28-13, during the 1989-90 season in the only other previous matchup.

MSU will begin its day against the Beavers of OSU at 10 a.m., then will face Utah Valley at 11:30 a.m., Gardner-Webb at 1 p.m. and Drexel at 2:30 p.m. Oregon State features two No. 1-ranked wrestlers in its lineup: Scott Sakaguchi (149 pounds) and Taylor Meeks (197).

Michigan State Probable Starting Lineup at EMU Duals
 125 MSU: Brenan Lyon OR Hermilo Esquivel
 133 MSU: Garth Yenter OR Terry Turner
 141 MSU: Brian Gibbs
 149 MSU: Joe Johnson
 157 MSU: Ryan Watts
 165 MSU: Travis Curley OR Bobby Nash
 174 MSU: Nick Kaczanowski OR Kevin Nash
 184 MSU: John Rizqallah
 197 MSU: Luke Jones OR Nick McDiarmid
 Hwt. MSU: No. 9 Michael McClure

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