In the past 10 years, the Michigan State wrestling team has defeated Michigan only once and this Wolverines have intention no of allowing a second in the past 11.

The No. 4 Michigan wrestling team travels to Michigan State tonight to begin its dual meet schedule. The Wolverines are going in as the favorites against the No. 18 Spartans, but this is by no means going to be a cake walk for Michigan.

Michigan State defeated No. 23 Central Michigan last week in a nail-biter that came down to the final match. The Spartans boast two All-Americans in Chris Williams at 125-pounds and Nik Fekete at 197 pounds.

Michigan will have to go into the match without All-America heavyweight Matt Brink. Brink pulled out of the Cliff Keen Invitational with a knee injury last week after winning his first three matches. Michigan coach Joe McFarland hopes to redshirt backup heavyweight freshman Greg Wagner, so backup 197-pound sophomore Steve Heleniak will be bumped up to wrestle in place of Brink. This will be the first varsity action for Heleniak in his career at Michigan.

The big match tonight should be at 197 pounds, when Fekete (No. 6 Amateur Wrestling News) will take on Michigan”s Kyle Smith (No. 8). Smith already defeated Fekete in preseason action at the Michigan State Open three weeks ago, so Fekete will be looking for payback. Smith is coming off a strong finish at the Cliff Keen Invitational where he defeated Pittsburgh”s David Sandberg (No. 10) en route to a fifth-place finish.

Despite capturing its first ever Cliff Keen Invitational title in Las Vegas, McFarland was disappointed with his team”s intensity.

“We need to go out on the mat, get the first takedown and set the tempo for the match,” he said.

Saturday night at Cliff Keen Arena, Michigan will take on Central Michigan. The Chippewas have five wrestlers ranked in the top 20 in their respective weight classes, and should be able to give Michigan a tough match. Central Michigan is led by sophomore 141-pounder Jason Mestor, ranked ninth in the nation at his weight class.

“We”re coming off an emotional win in Las Vegas, and it”ll be interesting to see how our guys respond,” McFarland said.

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