Wrestling Prepares for Big Weekend against Michigan and Illinois

The Spartan wrestling team kicks off a busy weekend with matches against No. 12 Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., at 7 p.m. tonight, followed by a home dual Sunday against No. 15 Illinois.

The Spartans (5-6, 0-3) are coming off a home loss to then No. 2 Minnesota last Friday. Michigan (7-2, 3-0) upset the Gophers in Ann Arbor, 19-14, last Sunday.

All five of MSU’s opponents in the month of January are currently ranked in the NWCA/USA Today Top 25 Coach’s Poll. Michigan State has already wrestled against No. 3 Iowa and No. 2 Minnesota, and will host No. 1 Penn State next Friday, Jan. 31 at Jenison Field House.

“There’s an intensity to this rivalry that’s rather unique,”MSU head coach Tom Minkel said. “In the state of Michigan, everyone knows everybody. In a lot of cases, our kids grew up with their kids and had rivalries with them in high school.”

This is the case for Michigan State’s 197-pound wrestler, Nick McDiarmid, who wrestled against his scheduled opponent, Chris Heald, two years ago at Michigan. The two also practiced together as Heald attended West Bloomfield High and wrestled at 189 pounds on their high school team.

One of the notable match-ups of the dual is Michigan’s heavyweight, Adam Coon, against Michigan State’s Mike McClure. Coon is 23-0 this season in his freshman season at Michigan. Coon is fresh off of a 4-2 upset victory against Minnesota’s Tony Nelson and is now the top ranked heavyweight in the nation.

MSU’s No. 9 ranked McClure had just wrestled Nelson on Friday in a 2-0 loss. McClure is now 17-4 on the season and is looking for an upset victory over Coon in Ann Arbor.

Even Minkel’s pet, Indigo the parrot, had an opinion on the outcome of the Michigan matchup.

“She knows where her loyalties lie, and her food,” Minkel said.

After the Friday meet against the Wolverines, MSU comes home for a dual against No. 15 Illinois at 2 p.m. Sunday in Jenison Field House. The Illini (6-4, 0-3) will be fresh off of a Friday match against the top ranked Penn State Nittany Lions. Both of these wrestling squads will be looking for their first Big Ten conference victory this weekend.

Nick Carver is the host of Pinned Down for Impact Sports.

Photo: Nubia Buckingham/Impact Sports