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Spartans Open Dual Season Against No. 17 Central Michigan Friday

Nov. 16, 2017

Dual #1:
Michigan State (0-0, 0-0 B1G) at No. 17 Central Michigan (0-0, 0-0 MAC)
 Date | Time Friday, Nov. 17 | 7:00 p.m.
 Location Mount Pleasant, Mich. | McGuirk Arena
 Notes Michigan State | Central Michigan
 Statistics Michigan State | Central Michigan
 Internet Coverage Stream live on ESPN3
 Social Media @wrestlingmsu


Michigan State wrestling will compete in its first dual meet of the season against Central Michigan on Friday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Action at McGuirk Arena will be streamed live on ESPN3.

Friday will be MSU's third event of the season after opening the 2017-18 campaign with the Michigan State Open and Eastern Michigan Open. The Spartans claimed two tournament titles over the past two weeks, including redshirt senior 141-pounder Javier Gasca's third consecutive MSU Open title and freshman 125-pounder Rayvon Foley's first career open title in the freshman/sophomore division at the EMU Open.

Friday's dual meet is the first of the Spartans' 12 duals this season. MSU will compete in just two additional duals in 2017 before opening Big Ten dual competition on January 5 in Iowa City, Iowa.

The CMU Chippewas are ranked No. 17 in both the NWCA Coaches Poll and InterMat, the ranking systemused by the Big Ten Conference. This marks the first dual meet of the season for Central Michigan, which also competed in the MSU Open and EMU Open the past two weekends. CMU has four wrestlers in the individual rankings according to InterMat: No. 5 Justin Oliver at 149 pounds, No. 13 Colin Heffernan at 157 pounds, No. 14 CJ Brucki at 174 pounds an No. 9 Jordan Ellingwood at 197 pounds. In the last meeting between the Chippewas and the Spartans, 16th-ranked CMU topped MSU, 23-12, on January 20, 2017. MSU claimed four bout wins from 133-pounder Austin Eicher, 141-pounder Javier Gasca, 157-pounder Austin Thompson and 165-pounder Drew Hughes.

Michigan State assistant coach Wynn Michalak is in his second season as the Spartans' assistant wrestling coach, coming to MSU after four seasons as a volunteer assistant at Illinois (2012-16) and two seasons (2009-10) as a graduate assistant at Central Michigan. Michalak is one of the most successful wrestlers in Central Michigan history, as he 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.

• Redshirt senior 141-pounder Javier Gasca is one of MSU's three returning NCAA qualifiers ... won the Michigan State Open 141 title in the open division for the third consecutive year ... went undefeated with five wins at the event, collecting four decisions and a fall at 3:56 in the first round ... named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week by the conference for his performance at the MSU Open, his first career weekly conference honor and the first since Drew Hughes last season on December 20, 2016 ... placed third at the 2017 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 ... ranked No. 12 by InterMat, No. 10 by Flo Wrestling and No. 17 by Trackwrestling.

• 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. 12 by Flo Wrestling at 133 pounds ... 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 ... took second place at the MSU Open in the open division, tallying three wins, including a 1-0 decision over No. 14 Christian Brucki of Central Michigan in the semifinal round ... Hughes' only loss of the day came against No. 4 Myles Amine of Michigan in the final round ... became the first Spartan freshman to qualify for NCAA Champions since Sean McMurray in 2011 ... 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 2017 Big Ten Championships ... ranked No. 8 by InterMat, Flo Wrestling and Trackwrestling.

• Freshman Rayvon Foley claimed his first open tournament title as a Spartan, going undefeated through four matches, including a major decision in the final bout, in the freshman/sophomore division at the Eastern Michigan Open ... took second place of the freshman/sophomore division at the MSU Open in his first competition in the Green and White.

• 157-pounder Jake Tucker returns to the Spartans after a redshirt season ... claimed second place in the open division at the EMU Open, picking up two major decisions and two decisions ... finished in sixth place at the MSU Open in the open division, logging two decisions and a fall.

Javier Gasca was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week on Tuesday, Nov. 7 after his performance at the MSU Open on Sunday, Nov. 5. Gasca went undefeated through the day's competition and bested three ranked opponents to claim his third consecutive MSU Open title. This marked Gasca's first career Big Ten weekly honor, and he is the first Spartan wrestler to earn the accolade since Drew Hughes last season on Dec. 20, 2016.

• Senior Javier Gasca - 141 pounds
No. 10 by Flo Wrestling
No. 12 by InterMat
No. 17 by Trackwrestling

• Junior Austin Eicher - 133/141 pounds
No. 12 by Flo Wrestling
No. 14 by InterMat
No. 20 by Trackwrestling

• Sophomore Drew Hughes - 174 pounds
No. 8 by InterMat
No. 8 by Flo Wrestling
No. 8 by Trackwrestling

All 14 Big Ten teams take the mat this weekend in duals or open tournaments. No. 7 Iowa hosts Iowa City Duals on Friday, while Michigan State, No. 1 Penn State, No. 6 Minnesota, No. 16 Illinois and No. 20 Wisconsin hit the road for away duals. On Saturday, Indiana and No. 25 Purdue will compete at the Navy Classic, and Maryland will take on Stanford in a dual meet. Northwestern, No. 1 Penn State, No. 12 Rutgers, No. 16 Illinois, Maryland and No. 20 Wisconsin wrestle in tournaments to close out the weekend on Sunday, and No. 3 Michigan and No. 6 Minnesota will compete in duals.

Michigan State returns nine letterwinners from last season. MSU has 15 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.

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 finish 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.

• 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 is in 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.

"The biggest difference is that we've had two tournaments under our belt now, and the biggest thing for our guys is transitioning from a two-hour weigh-in, having two hours from the time that they weigh-in until they start competing, to a dual meet where you weigh-in one hour before you compete. In many cases, these guys have to get adjusted to that quick turnover time. We're changing gears pretty quickly, and in many ways this is the fun part of the year, going out there and wrestling 10 matches straight-up."

"We have to compete and improve every time we step on the mat. I want to see our guys attacking more and taking advantage of more scoring opportunities. That's the type of team that I want. I want a team that wants to put points on the board. All indications in the practice room show that they're committed to doing that. We have a young team, and I Iook forward to watching our guys grow and compete. The main thing I'm looking for as a coach is to watch them compete and step up to the level that they're competing against. This is an opportunity for them to compete against one of the top programs in the country, and that's where we want to be. In order to get there, you have to step up to that level of wrestling."

"Central Michigan has always been a top-20, top-25 team. Coach Borrelli has built a great program up there. I have a lot of respect for him and the program. There's no doubt that every time we step on the mat with them that they're going to give us 100 percent effort and we look forward to the challenge."

In its second open tournament of the season, Michigan State wrestling garnered eight medals at the Eastern Michigan Open on Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Eastern Michigan Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Leading the way for the Spartans in the freshman/sophomore division was freshman Rayvon Foley winning the title at 125 pounds. Foley was undefeated through four matches, earning three decisions on his way to the final match. In the title bout, he defeated Drew West of Northern Illinois in a major decision, 23-12, to win the first open tournament of his career.

In the open division, redshirt freshman Jake Tucker claimed second place at 157 pounds. Tucker rolled through the first four matches, picking up two major decisions and two decisions, but fell in the medal round to Pitt's Taleb Rahmani in a fall at 2:01.

Redshirt freshman Jwan Britton finished third in the open division at 149 pounds, starting off the tournament with a decision and a major decision and advancing to the semifinals. Britton dropped a close decision in the semifinal, 3-2, but rebounded in the match for third, taking a 7-3 decision over Alex Caffey from Pitt.

True freshman 184-pounder Cameron Caffey jumped to the open division after competing in the freshman/sophomore division at the MSU Open on Nov. 5. Caffey started off the day with a fall at 3:46 in his first match, advancing to the semifinal round after claiming a second win from a decision. Caffey was downed in the semifinal match, but ended in fourth place in consolation.

Rounding out the open division medal finishers, redshirt freshman Christian Rebottaro took sixth place at 285 pounds. Rebottaro lost his first match of the day, but bounced back to earn a decision, sudden victory and fall at 4:29.

Representing the Spartans in the freshman/sophomore division, freshman 197-pounder Brad Wilton took third, logging a fall at 7:39, decision and major decision to earn the third-place medal.

Freshmen Jaden Enriquez and Austen Malczewski claimed sixth place at 141 pounds and 174 pounds, respectively, completing the medal finishes from Green and White wrestlers.

Michigan State will take a week off before traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada, for the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 1-2.



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