He won his matches against Iowa and Northwestern by forfeit after No. 5 Bobby Telford and No. 9 Mike McMullan didn’t compete.
“It’s definitely very disappointing because you train all week to wrestle at the weekend, and there’s nobody there to wrestle,” McClure said after the meet against Northwestern on Friday.
McClure did get to wrestle last weekend when he beat No. 16 Jeremy Johnson of Ohio, 3-2, Sunday afternoon.
“This week, as compared to last week (against Iowa), we have another dual on Sunday, so I’m looking forward to that and putting my energy toward that,” McClure said.
He said the other team choosing not to wrestle against him only happened in high school “just because teams were just scared,” but that in college he very rarely sees it.
McClure won by forfeit once each of the last two years before the two wins thus far this season.
With a 25-2 record and six pins so far, the highest ranked Spartan is a having a season cooler than the other side of a pillow.
For head coach Tom Minkel, having the last match of a meet televised live on the Big Ten Network with both competitors in the top ten, only added to the disappointment that the fight didn’t happen.
“I’m really disappointed that they chose not to wrestle,” Minkel said. “A lot of people were looking forward to that match tonight. I think we as coaches need to give them those matches.”
The match against McClure was the fourth time this season there was no match at the heavyweight division for Northwestern.
In his 22 years of coaching, Minkel said he’s never forfeited a match because the meet was already in the bag, and regardless of the score, McClure absolutely should have wrestled.
“I don’t believe in it,” Minkel said. “In the short term, it might help you, and help your team, it might help your immediate situation, but in the long term it’s not good for our sport.”
The forfeits didn’t only sting Minkel and McClure. Sophomore 197-pounder Nick McDiarmid said he felt just as upset watching from the sideline.
“It kind of stinks for (McClure) because he’s one of the best kids in the country, and this kid today was also one of the best kids in the country,” McDiarmid said of the Northwestern heavyweight.
Before making their respective trips to East Lansing, Telford of Iowa had lost two of his last three matches, and it was the first time McMullan of Northwestern was scheduled to start since Dec. 16.
McDiarmid said besides the fact he would be upset if it were him, McClure is at another handicap because he won’t have valuable knowledge going into the Big Ten Championships in March.
“Big Ten time? How’s it going to seed because they’re not letting them wrestle each other?” he said. “He’s been beating a lot of good kids, so it’s a disadvantage for him because he can’t wrestle and compare himself to the other kids that he’s been seeing.”
McClure said not getting to wrestle is something that he has to deal with and look forward to the next time gets on the mat.
“There really isn’t anything you can do,” he said. “It’s up to the other teams coach to make that decision, so it’s just out of my hands.”