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MSU wrestling handles Maryland, earns first conference win of the season

January 28, 2023

MSU Wrestling beats Maryland for their first conference win of the season.

Coming off of four consecutive losses to nationally ranked Big Ten opponents, Michigan State’s wrestling team hosted Maryland on Friday night and emerged victorious by a final score of 37-9. 

It was the Spartans’ first win in conference play, moving them to 8-4 on the year and 1-4 in the Big Ten.

This matchup marked MSU’s first home contest in 14 days. Entering the match as the No. 22 team in the country, the team looked to defend its home mat against the unranked Terrapins.

Starting off the night in the 125 lb. weight class, junior Tristian Lujan took the mat against Maryland redshirt freshman Braxton Brown. Lujan, who entered the match with a 14-5 record, put up a valiant effort against Brown, who is 17-2, but was unable to come out on top. The Spartans trailed 3-0 to begin the night. 

Up next was the 133 lb. class, which saw MSU graduate student Rayvon Foley control his bout with Maryland sophomore Conner Quinn. Foley’s performance was impressive to say the least, as he set the tone for the rest of the night with his unmatched energy. This gave MSU a 5-3 lead. 

After the match, Foley said his mindset in the ring revolves around belief and an aggressive attitude. 

“Attack, go after good points,” Foley said when asked about his mid-bout mindset. “Don’t hesitate, just be aggressive. Just believe every moment out there that I can win.”

For the 141 lb. showdown, MSU redshirt junior Jordan Hamdan took home his 20th win of the season to increase the Spartans’ lead to 8-3. Squaring off against Maryland freshman Kal Miller, Hamdan turned it up a notch after a blow-trading first two periods. 

MSU redshirt junior Peyton Omania wasted no time taking control of the 149 lb. bout against Maryland redshirt freshman Ethen Miller, winning easily. MSU junior Chase Saldate followed suit in the 157 lb. class with a dominating, crowd-igniting performance that put MSU firmly in front on the scoreboard. With these two bouts ending in the Spartans’ favor, their lead shot up to 19-3.

In an aggressive, back-and-forth clash in the 165 lb. weigh-in, MSU junior Caleb Fish battled his way to a win and improved to 21-5 on the season. Similar to Fish, MSU freshman Ceasar Garza edged out a victory over Maryland sophomore Dom Solis in the 174 lb. category. Garza and Solis were in a standoff for most of the bout, but Garza pulled away in the end. Thanks to Fish and Garza’s triumphs, the Spartans controlled the scoreboard 25-3. 

The 184 lb. bout was less of a contest. MSU redshirt senior Layne Malczewski was dominant in his matchup with Maryland sophomore Chase Mielnik. Malczewski brought the Jenison Fieldhouse crowd to its feet in a commanding victory that ultimately increased the Spartans’ lead to 31-3. Malczewski improved to 18-3 on the season. 

There was no contest in the 197 lb. category as MSU graduate student Cameron Caffey claimed victory by way of a failed Terrapin weigh-in. 

The final bout of the night saw a matchup of two graduate students in the 285 lb. weigh-in, with MSU’s Ryan Vasbinder squaring off against Jaron Smith of Maryland. Smith gained the upper hand early and went on to beat Vasbinder, ending the Terrapins’ otherwise forgettable night on a positive note. 

The 37-9 final score was certainly a statement for the Spartans, who were looking to get back on track in conference play. Head Coach Roger Chandler said he was pleased with the aggressiveness of his team on Friday.

“I thought we did a really good job tonight of initiating the action, initiating attacks,” Chandler said. “That’s something that we focused on this past week, instead of counterattacking.”

Big Ten play has undoubtedly been a gauntlet for MSU. Over the past two weeks, the Spartans have taken on four nationally ranked opponents, two of which were in the top five. The road won’t get any easier for them, as they now shift focus to sixth-ranked Ohio State. Chandler called the Buckeyes a national title-contending team and said he views it as an opportunity to “jump levels.”

“In order to jump levels, you have to wrestle the best, and we get that opportunity,” Chandler said. 

MSU wrestling will look to carry this momentum to Columbus on Sunday, where the Spartans will go head-to-head with No. 6 Ohio State. The first whistle is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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