Fresh off a break from school and competition, the MSU wrestling team (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) got back on the mat and lost to No. 21 Purdue, 26-10, Friday night.
“That was a really disappointing performance tonight,” head coach Tom Minkel said. “We had some matches where we wrestled pretty darn well, but there were a couple other matches where we wrestled way below our potential.”
Minkel told the team after the match they’re in it together and if one person has a bad match, it reflects poorly on the entire team.
“We’re a better team than we showed to night, so we need to recover and get back to business on Sunday,” he said.
With nearly three weeks in between matches, Minkel said the holidays added to the difficulty of trying to keep weight down.
“I thought we trained pretty well, but we had some weight issues coming out (of) New Years,” he said. “Clearly, we weren’t as prepared tonight as we needed to be.”
Still, there were a few bright spots on the night.
Junior heavyweight Michael McClue now is ranked fifth in his class, and had another strong night, defeating his opponent 8-1, including 3 2-point takedowns.“We came back from a long break, so we’re working our way into it, but I feel like the energy in the room is up there as it usually is,” McClure said. “We just wrestled a good team and some times it just goes that way.”
He has defeated 5 ranked wrestlers this season, and was named Big Ten wrestler of the week for the second time this season on Dec. 17, after winning the Reno Tournament of Champions.
“This year I’m looking to place on the podium, and I feel like all I need to do is keep wrestling hard every match,” he said.
Senior David Cheza and sophomore John Rizqallah scored the only two other wins for the Spartans, and both remain undefeated in dual meets this season
“I’m trying to do the right things and I’m working towards my goal,” Rizquallah said. “As an individual goal and as a team goal, just trying to keep everything together.”
Rizquallah has won nine of his last 10 matches with a second place finish coming at the Reno Tournament of Champions over the break, but he said the upcoming matches are another way to get the ball rolling again.
“We’re going to adjust our weight and this is just another lesson and we’re just going to bounce back,” he said.
The next time the Spartan are in action is noon Sunday against Bucknell and at 2 p.m. against Lindsey Wilson at Jenison Field House.
Head coach for Bucknell, Dan Wirnsberger wrestled at MSU in the early 1990s, and was a three-time All-American under Minkel, who said it will be a treat to face off against his friend.
“He was an NCAA finalist for me, and a terrific young man,” Minkel said. “I’m enormously proud of him and I’m looking forward to competing against him.”