Let's not sugar coat it, things haven't been good for Sparty's wrestling team for awhile. A lot of it had to do with the lack of interest Tom Minkle seemed to have in the program. Hiring longtime assistant, Roger Chandler, didn't really make any huge headlines either. However, Chandler has made some positive strides with the commander rank. He brought in Wynn Michalak & Chris Williams as Assistant Coaches immediately bringing some well-needed legitimacy to the practice room. They have also brought in a lot of freshmen. Sure some aren't highly touted recruits, but gaining depth, competition, and enthusiasm appears to be something attainable in East Lansing for the first time in a long time.
Perhaps a side tangent food for thought. Michigan State hosts Minnesota on December 9th. The Gophers will be reeling for the first semester with turmoil and suspensions possibly presenting a big opportunity for a shock from East Lansing.
Some guys to keep an eye on:
Lucas Hall is from powerhouse Lowell, Michigan and is a true freshman. He won state championships as a sophomore and junior before losing in the finals as a senior. The kid is an immense talent with speed and strength that will be tough for other 125's to handle. Hall dominated veteran Mitch Rogaliner 8-2 in wrestle-offs last week.
Javier Gasca III has had the talent and has been ranked here and there the past couple seasons. Off the mat issues combined with confusion on which weight he should be at has hampered the California product from doing any damage in March. Maybe this is the year he can put it all together and get things rolling.
Austin Eicher won the MAC last year for Northern Illinois but transferred back home this year. He heads into his sophomore season in a tough weight, but could make some noise. You could see him spend some good time in the rankings at 133 this year.
Jacob Cooper is listed at 197/285. He was a 3-time state champ and a runner-up as a freshman at 145. He has continued to grow and could be an interesting big guy who doesn't necessarily wrestle like a big guy.
Hopefully, this is the year Michigan State can get back on track. I'll be rooting for them.