The MSU wrestling team finished off the Big Ten regular season with a 24-15” loss to arch rival Michigan”:http://www.msuspartans.com/sports/m-wrestl/recaps/021013aab.html on Sunday afternoon.
The loss marked the ninth straight loss for a team that finished the Big Ten season without a team victory.
MSU got things started off strong with a win by No. 18 sophomore 184-pounder John Rizqallah and No. 7 junior heavyweight Mike McClure to jump out to an early 6-3 lead.
Junior 125-pounder Brenan Lyon then pinned No. 15 Sean Boyle of Michigan in what was the most exciting match of the afternoon to give MSU a 12-3 lead.
“He’s a kid that has taken some lumps, but he’s just gotten better and gotten better,” head coach Tom Minkel said of Lyon. “A great win for him.”
Lyon and Boyle have a history.
Lyon pinned Boyle at the Big Ten Championships in 2010, and Lyon said he knew what he had to do to get the win.
“I started rolling, and he ended up on his back and I was like ‘Please do not let him off his back,’” Lyon said. “Everybody dreams for that kind of win in front of this amount of people. I’ve been envisioning that kind of win for a while now, and it feels great to finally get it.”
Lyon was treated like a rock star after the dual as many people approached him and congratulated him on his win.
Sophomore 157-pounder Ryan Watts’ mom went up to Lyon after the meet and called him “a tough little, small little diva,” and said he “raised the freakin’ roof of this place.”
In the three matches after Lyon’s win, Michigan got things turned around, scoring a major decision and a pin to take the lead for good, 16-15.
Watts was the only other Spartan to come away with a win as the Spartans fell to the Wolverines for the third-straight year.
Minkel said MSU seems to have seven or eight good matches each dual when they need 10, and the team discusses how to turn things around often.
“We’re really frustrated,” Minkel said. “There’s some matches we were kind of out matched, but in the matches that we have the capability of winning, we’ve got to.”
The 1,336 fans in attendance played a big role.
Throughout the meet, fans for both sides cheered on their team, a fact McClure said helped him win his match.
“I was feeding off the crowd really, and I was just soaking it up,” McClure said. “It was just a sweet atmosphere. It was crazy and I loved it.”
MSU finishes off the regular season with matches against Iowa State and No. 12 Central Michigan at home this weekend.
With such a young team, Minkel said the key to finishing the season strong is learning from their failures at in the past, and taking it one match at a time.
“It’s you and this other guy in front of a lot of other people,” Minkel said. “It’s an enormous amount of pressure. It’s very much an exercise in keeping your composure under enormous stress.”