After starting the Big Ten season with three consecutive loses, Michigan State wrestling bounced back in historic fashion by securing their first Big Ten shutout in 36 years.
MSU coach Roger Chandler seemed to realize what he had just witnessed right after the final match concluded.
“I have never been part of a Big Ten shutout,” Chandler said. “This is a special day for these guys.”
Maryland won the coin toss and chose to start at the 125-pound matchup, where MSU senior Logan Griffin would get the nod over Julian Saldana to face Maryland junior Brandon Cray. Early in the first period, Cray would get a takedown to take an early 2-0 lead.
Two quick spin and roll escapes from Griffin evened up the score early in the second period, which inevitably led to a Griffin takedown on Cray, giving him the 4-2 advantage, and eventually the 4-3 win, giving the Spartans an early 3-0 lead.
Next in the match, the 133-pound matchup was the definition of grit and grind. After two periods, there was no score between MSU senior Garrett Pepple and Maryland freshman King Sandoval. A gritty escape resulted in an early 1-0 lead for Pepple, but that was short lived as Sandoval was able to complete a takedown with a minute remaining.
Then Pepple’s senior experience came through.
With 30 seconds remaining, Pepple wrestled his way into a late reversal, securing a victory and a 6-0 lead for the green and white.
Chandler was impressed by his redshirt senior, who secured his 14th win of the season.
“Garrett has a pretty good wrestling IQ,” Chandler said. “He gritted throughout the whole match and because of it he got a win.”
Matt Santos continued the tough matchups into the 141-pound match against Maryland’s Hunter Baxter, which he won on a 6-3 decision.
Junior Alex Hrisopoulous wouldn’t take the foot off the gas for the Spartans. Early in the second period versus Maryland’s Michael Doetsch, an escape by Doetsch would result in a 2-2 tie in the match, but Hrisopoulous would just not give up, and kept Doetsch firmly on the ground and rode this into a 5-1 win, pushing the lead to 12-0.
After a disappointing loss last Friday against Minnesota, Chandler challenged his wins leader Jake Tucker, urging him to fight for more points on offense, and he did just that.
Tucker, in three periods, racked up 18 points against Maryland freshman Lucas Cordio, securing a technical fall and five points for the green and white and a 17-0 advantage after the first half of matches.
The domination continued into the second half as well on Sunday afternoon as MSU swept all five of the second-half matches.
In the 165-pound match matches, MSU’s Drew Hughes was able to grind out a victory over Maryland sophomore Kyle Cochran.
Malczewski was taking on No.23-ranked Philip Spadafora in a very evenly matched matchup. After a two-period stalemate, Malczewski was able to secure a huge takedown to walk away with a 3-0 upset over Spadafora.
This momentum carried into the next match as Caffey dominated his opponent Kyle Jasenski, and notched up his career high eighth fall of the season, pushing the lead to 29-0.
“Our guys committed to wrestling to all positions and for all seven minutes,” said Chandler. “I got to tip my hat off to them.”
The Spartans will look to bring this energy into their next matchup against Division II foe Clarion next Friday.