From the sound of the comments of Coach Brian Smith after the dual, Mizzou may have chosen to stay out on the road after leaving for UT-C last Saturday. I dont know if that is the case, but he made it sound as if the team was very tired going into this match. Also, he employed some very interesting stragegy which you will see play out when I go through the weight classes. In the end, the team did pull out a 23-17 win on the road against another ranked opponent, their 4th in 4 tries on the season. So...for the last dual of 2007, let's get to it!!
Click 'Full Story' for the results.
Frosh Tony Pescaglia got things started in a big way for the Tigers, as he shook off his loss against Maldanado of UT-C by blanking his Pitt opponent 13-0, earning a major decision for himself and putting Mizzou up early 4-0 in the dual. On the whole, for the early part of the season, I have been impressed and pleased with the prodcution Tony has provided and the upgrade he has been at this weight class. And it is a good thing he got Mizzou off to that good start, as you will see there were some interesting lineup choices in the next couple of weight classes.
I have to assume that McCormick is still a bit dinged, and I do know he is getting ready to participate in the very prestigious and tough Midlands tournament coming up next week, so perhaps those two pieces led to the decision to wrestle John Olanowski, who typically is a 125 pounder up at this weight. In the end, whatever the reason, the choice put Mizzou back in a bit of a hole, as Pitt returned the favor on the shutout and the major decision, with Olanowski falling 10-0 to Jimmy Conroy. That evened the dual at 4-4 heading to 141 where Coach Smith would make another departure from his usual starting lineup.
Redshirt freshman Willie Saxton stepped on the mat for the first time in his career in a Mizzou dual, taking the place of Marcus Hoehn. Saxton took on NCAA qualifier Drew Headlee, who is ranked in some polls, or at least was at one point this season. Saxton evidntly held the match fairly close through 2 periods, but fell apart a bit in the 3rd period before getting majored 12-4. This put Mizzou down 8-4 on the evening, but did bring me to an interesting question. Does anyone know what happened to Maxwell Shanaman? He does not appear on the Mizzou roster currently, and was certainly thought to be an extremely high recruit for this past class. Not to say he should be out there, but as I was looking down the road perhaps, I noticed he was not around. Any help would be (as always) greatly appreciated.
With Mizzou down 8-4 suddenly, this next bout really helped Mizzou out considering where their roster was about to go starting at the next week. But here, senior Josh Wagner came up big for the Tigers, sticking Joey Ecklof early in the 2nd period for the pin at 3:45. The pin gave Wagner his 70th career win, and put the Tigers back on top in a fairly crazy dual (especially from the standpoint of bonus points in bouts) 10-8.
Here is where Coach Smith began to employ some strategy, but if you can believe it, for two weight classes away. And while the strategy appeared to pay off (more on that when we get to 174), it did deprive us of what should have been a match many looked forward to with Mike Chandler and Matt Kocher, both of whom are ranked in the top 13 in the country. In the end, Emmanuel Brooks stepped out for the Tigers against the #6 Kocher and did a very admirable job in falling 6-3. This did put Pitt back on top 11-10, but kept them from earning bonus points at the class and potentially stretching the lead out further.
Getting bumped up a weight class, Mike Chandler faced Ethan Headlee of Pitt and provided the 2nd Mizzou shutout of the evening, blanking the other Headlee 9-0 and giving Mizzou another bouns point decision with the major. This would put Mizzou back up 14-11, and again serve as an important bout in setting up the strategy of the 174 matchup.
Well...last wrap-up I talked about how much this weight class has been fluctuating for Mizzou. Needless to say, I did not see this coming, but could have expected it. If you recall, Mizzou did a similar thing last year when taking on Minnesota I believe at the National Duals. We basically shifted a TON of people up one weight class, even ending up with Ben Askren taking down a highly ranked opponent at 184, all the more impressive because Ben was even light for 174. Anyway...Nick Marable took the mat against #1 ranked Keith Gavin, and more than held his own in taking a 7-3 defeat. This moved the match to a tie at 14, but allowed Mizzou to avoid having Gavin rack up bonus points which would have been assumed here in most cases.
The Mizzou lineup got back to normal at 184, with Raymond Jordan stepping out in what was likely a little higher pressure situation on the road with a tie with 3 bouts to go. He met the pressure well, taking another major decision for Mizzou 13-4, and putting Mizzou back on top 18-14. It was Mizzou's 4th win of the night, and all of them came with bonus points. Jordan seems pretty locked in at #5 or so in the country, and will simply need to beat some Big 10 opponents to move up (since they DOMINATE this weight class nationally)
In the position to salt the dual away, Max (and sorry to him last week for calling him Ben) Askren took full advantage, and not only won the match (which clinched the dual for Mizzou), but did so in impressive style with a 17-2 tech fall of David Crowell of Pitt. The win would be the 5th of the night for Mizzou with bonus points, and as we will see with the 275 pound match and the entire evening, the bonus points where a big reason why Mizzou walked out of Pitt with another win.
I will admit that this result surprised me given the result of their previous get together. Mark Ellis had a rematch here against Zach Sheaffer, who he pinned inside of a minute only a couple of weeks ago, and this time lost a 8-2 decision to Sheaffer, finishing the dual at 23-17. In reading the matchat that MUTigers.com had with Ellis a couple of weeks ago, he did mention something about how he was not feeling great about his consistency, so I guess this speaks to that.
This dual is a great lesson to the wrestling fan novice as to how the scoring works and the importance of bonus points.
If you split a dual 5 matches to 5, it would be 15-15 (3 points per win). However, Mizzou was able to obtain 8 bonus points off of 3 major decisions (3 points), a tech fall (2 points) and a pin (3 points). On the other hand, Pitt only got 2 points off of 2 major decisions.
Coach Smith seems happy with the performance, so therefore I am as well. I am still hopeful Chandler and Kocher will hook up some time down the road because I think it will be a good match, and I am pleased to read about how well Marable did against the consensus #1 at 174 (and who clearly would have been #1 last year also if not for Ben Askren). Once again, Mizzou is now off until the new year, when they will return to take on Bucknell.