Wrestling Preview and Primer

Alright Rock M readers, another fantastic feature (as we seem to be going for the alliteration) we hope to provide you all season will be my reviews of Mizzou Wrestling matches.  A little background on my wrestling experience and expertise....I really do not have much to be honest.  I wrestled for a couple of seasons in high school in CT, and was not very good at all.  However, I do love the sport and have followed it since then.  As with my Monday Musings, the hope is to open up the Mizzou community at large to all the sports at Mizzou.  If you have anything to share, please always feel free, as I realize that while I feel confident in my knowledge of the sport, I am by no means an expert.

This past weekend, Mizzou participated in the Black and Gold meet, perhaps with some starting spots up for grabs.  At the same time, I also had the opportunity to speak to someone connected with the program and get some of his thoughts on what to expect for the coming season.  Let's get to it, but before we do, here are some wrestling basics in case this is your first real exposure to commentary on the sport.

General Information:

  • There are 10 weight classes: 125, 133, 141, 149, 157, 165, 174, 184, 197 and HWY (up to 285)
  • Each match is three periods.  The first period lasts three minutes, while the other two last two minutes each.
  • Opponents will start the match from the "neutral" position, meaning they are both standing.  A coin toss at the end of the first period determines starting positions for the other two periods.  The toss winner can choose neutral, "up" (on top), "down" (on bottom) or defer to the 3rd.

Individual Points:

  • Two points are scored for a takedown, which is gaining control over your opponent on the mat.
  • One point is scored on an escape, which is going from being taken down back to neutral
  • Two points are scored for a reversal, which is gaining a position of advantage directly from being at a disadvantage.  Basically, it is taking your opponent down without getting back to neutral to first. 
  • Two or three back points are scored when an opponent's shoulder blade(s) are exposed to the mat.  If they are exposed for more than five seconds, it is three points.  For three to five seconds, it is two points.  The points are not awarded until the opponent gets back to his stomach.  A pin comes when both blades are on the mat for two consecutive seconds.
  • 1 point (maximum) for riding time.  This is time in control of your opponent, and is counted by a second clock during the match, going both up and down.  For instance, if you take your opponent down in the first period and keep them down for 50 seconds, you earn 50 seconds of riding time.  In the second period, you start on bottom and your opponent rides you for 15 seconds before you escape, your riding time falls to 35 seconds.  In the third period, you start on top and ride your opponent for 45 more seconds.  You will have finished the match with 80 seconds of riding time and earn an additional point.  No matter how much riding time you finish with (and I have seen upwards of four minutes or more), you can only earn ONE point (it is not a point per minute).  This point often decides very close matches.

Dual Meet and Team Points:

  • The Dual Meet is the most common competition during the season.  The team will participate in other tournaments during the season, but I will be honest in saying I do not know how the team scoring works for it.
  • Three points are earned for the team when a match is won by one to seven points. (decision)
  • Four points are earned for the team when a  match is won by eight to 14 points (major decision)
  • Five points are earned for the team when a match is won by 15 or more points and the match is stopped as soon as the points are official (technical fall)
  • Six points are earned for pin (fall)

Alright...with that out of the way, let's get to the action and some predicitons.  All rankings used are from Intermat Wrestling

125:

Last season, freshman Tony Pescaglia got off to a great start, taking down some big time opponents and rising quickly up the rankings.  Unfortunately, a knee injury derailed the rest of his season and now appears like it will shelve him for this season as well.  John Olanowski, who had been with and wrestled extensively with the program over the past two seasons has transfered to Lindenwood, leaving Mizzou right now with just RS Frosh Troy Dolan.  Dolan was a member of the pretty heralded class from two seasons ago (which will come back around in a number of these previews), but a lot will be expected of him

Within the Big XII, this is a pretty tough division nationally, and could have been a LOT tougher had things gone...um...differently for Nebraska and Paul Donahoe, a former All-American.  If you had not heard, you can read about it here.  The conference still starts with three other wrestlers ranked in the top 15, so Dolan will have his work cut out for him.

133:

Tyler McCormick finished his career as a 2-time All-American and probably should have achieved it again last year if not for nagging injuries.  In his absence last season, a number of wrestlers tried to fill in.  This year, Arizona State transfer Todd Schavrien will be the likely candidate, especially after his major decision over Nathan McCormick 8-0 on Saturday.  Schavrien is a sophomore and will hopefully provide at least some stability at a weight which had none last season.

In conference, this is another pretty stout conference as it pertains to the national rankings.  The champion of the division returns in Nick Fanthrope from Iowa State, and Tyler Shinn will move up from 125 to fill in the spot of Coleman Scott, who leaves Okie State as a national champion (with an amazing pin in the finals).  If Schavrien can settle into third place, that is good enough for an automatic trip to the NCAA's (Big XII gets the top three wrestlers from each class PLUS eight wild cards across all weights, so almost the top four per class).

141:

If you have not figured it out already, let me just say the lower weights have not been an area of strength for Mizzou the past couple of seasons.  141 will be not much different, as this is evidently another wide open class.  Last season, senior Marcus Hoehn took most of the action at this weight and was not terribly successful.  The season previous, Ashtin Primus started off his freshman season on fire, but ran out of gas in the end.  He redshirted last season and is back, but evidently struggling to keep weight at 141.  In fact, he did not wrestle this past weekend, and Hoehn defeated freshman Nick Hucke (who I expect big things out of in the future) by a score of 10-5.  As far as I can tell, this class is still open and depends on Primus, as it is being reported that Hoehn has really tried to improve in the off-season.

Around the conference, the champion returns in highly ranked Nick Gallick from Iowa State.  Zac Bailey from OU is also back and ranked, but that is it for the conference.  If Hoehn or Primus can get going, they stand to at least be able to fight for the #3 spot and give Mizzou some wins here and there in dual meets and tournaments.

149:

Last season, now-graduated senior Josh Wagner was up and down all season and finished his career probably more down than up.  This opens the 149 pound weight class wide open, and it appears that two will fight for the chance to wrestle there.  The first is senior Andrew Sherry, the second is RS frosh Max Shanaman.  Each wrestler won a wrestle-down and faced off in the "finals", with Sherry riding Shanaman in the 3rd period to get the all important riding time point for a 2-1 win (each wrestler escaped the other in the 2nd and 3rd period).  Consider this class still (likely) wide open, but if I had to wager a guess, I would think that Sherry gets the nod, if for no other reason than he is a senior.

Around the conference, the Big XII will start the season with three inside the top 13.  Big XII Championship Most Oustanding Wrestler Jordan Burroghs from NU returns and will be highly ranked all season, along with Will Rowe of OU and Mitch Mueller of ISU...all three are juniors.  Mizzou has their work cut out for them in this class for sure.

157:

Alright...finally to a weight class where Mizzou is likely to be favored most of the season in most meets.  Senior Mike Chandler returns and starts the season off ranked 9th nationally.  However, when it came down to the Black and Gold Meet, senior Emanuel Brooks, who competed VERY well for Mizzou out of nowhere at the Big XII Championships at 174 pounds, defeated Chandler by the score of 3-2.  Does this mean that Brooks will get the nod over Chandler once the season starts?  Not likely, but it does show that Chandler cannot relax and will be pushed, which should be good for him,

Around the conference, junior Cyler Sanderson (of the fighting Sandersons) returns, having bested Chandler last year in the conference final by a score of 6-5.  He will start the season ranked just ahead of Chandler, and these two should continue to have some great battles.  And no wrestling preview would be complete without mention of Okie State senior (now ranked #13) NEWLY MCSPADDEN.  Yep...that's his name.  Anyway, Chandler should certainly return to the NCAA's and is obviously going to be right in the thick of things to win a title in conference to close his Mizzou career.

165:

Junior Nick Marable is the #1 wrestler in the country at this weight.  He won the Big XII title last season and finished in third place nationally (after getting screwed in the semis).  Not much else needs to be said, other than Marable will probably need to become better this season at scoring bonus points (meaning he needs to win matches by more than his normal 4-1 score).  NO ONE could take down Marable last season, and I expect that to continue.  However, for some team success, and perhaps to make up for some possible lower weight deficiencies, he will need to get some major decisions and better whenever he can. He started off that cause well on Saturday with his 15-4 dismantling of freshman Todd Porter

However...that is not terribly likely to happen in conference.  As is somewhat common, the Big XII is DOMINANT in this weight class, with the #1, #4 (Reader of ISU), #5 (Dwyer of NU) and #10 (Mason of Okie State) wrestlers in this class.  Across the nation, this class has a lot of returning talent to it and it will be a tough run to the finals for Marable. However, it really should be him and Mack Lewnes of Cornell going toe to toe all season for the top spot.

174:

The Tigers never found a replacement for Ben Askren last season, as a number of different wrestlers tried their hand at this class, but none with any real success.  In the end, Emanuel Brooks came from pretty much not wrestling at all during the season to wrestling VERY well in the Big XII Championships, winning a close match over a favored opponent and losing another in OT.  This year, the Tigers are looking for a one- year patch, as All-American Raymond Jordan will step down from 184 pounds to fill this spot.  Anyone who knows me knows I was hoping for this last season, as I was never too sure Jordan could really fill out 184 enough to compete at the highest level.  A credit to him certainly for being as good as he was, but there was always a small gap between him and the top.  By the way, Jordan did not wrestle on Saturday.

So, while Jordan should certainly be in the thick of things all season on the national front, in conference is going to be another tough go for the former champ at 184.  Senior Brandon Browne won this class last season for Nebraska and will start the season at #3 to Jordan's #4.  Junior Duke Burk from Iowa State will also be a player, as he debuts at #10 for the Clones.  Shoud be exciting and hopefully Jordan can win another conference title and earn another AA honor to finish an already impressive Tiger career.

184:

So...with Jordan gone from 184, who fills in the void?  If I had my druthers, I would actually have hoped for Max Askren to make the cut down from 197, but I did not seem to get the second half of my wish.  That leaves senior John Andrews and RS frosh Dorian Henderson to battle it out, and battle they did.  They hooked up on Saturday and Henderson used a solid 3rd period to finish out the match and a 9-4 victory over Andrews.  Henderson was another highly acclaimed wrestler from the class of two seasons ago, and this might be his time to shine. If he can step in and do a better job than the team did filling in 174 last season, he could provide the Tigers with a huge boost.

Around the conference, he will have some tough competition, but not too terrible.  With the defection of Jordan and of Big XII Champ Jake Varner of Iowa State, senior Vince Jones from NU is back at #7, and that is it.  A great opportunity for Henderson to get be among the top in the conference.  This will be an interesting class to watch as the season progresses.

197:

Junior Max Askren returns as the two-time defending Big XII Champion at this weight class and fresh off of his first All American effort at the NCAA's last season.  He did participate on Saturday, wrestling against freshman Jake Glore and scored the lone fall of the meet.  This will be something the Tigers will need, as Askren, who will start the season ranked #6 in the nation and should be in a position to score bonus points for the Tigers in most cases....

...except perhaps when it comes to the conference.  While Askren was the Big XII champion at this weight last season, he will be joined by the champ at 184 in Jake Varner, who starts the season at #1 after finishing runner-up at the NCAA's at 184.  Senior Craig Brester of NU, who Askren defeated in the Big XII finals will start actually at #4, and sophomore Eric Laposki of OU will start at #10.  And finishing the only conference to have all five wrestlers in the top 20, Okie State's Clayton Foster starts the season at #18.  Tough road to hoe for Askren.

HWY:

Perhaps we have saved the most interesting class for last.  Last season, senior Mark Ellis spent most of the year in the national top 20 for the Tigers.  In fact, he starts this season ranked #4.  Sure thing to start for the Tigers, right?  Well...maybe not.  You see, RS freshman Dominique Bradley came to Mizzou two years ago as the #1 rated high school HWY in the country.  He took the red-shirt last season, and met Ellis at the Black and Gold meet, where the bigger Bradley defeated Ellis in double OT.  Now, we already covered how Chandler lost and will still certainly start at 157, but I don't feel or hear it is as guaranteed here.  The main thing is that while Ellis has evidently bulked up a bit, he still is on the lighter side for a HWY, but Bradley has to evidently cut weight to get to 285...so speed vs. size

Whatever happens, this division is absolutely loaded at the top with Big XII wrestlers.  #1 and #2 is simply a rematch of the Big XII Championships, with Jared Rosholt of Okie State holding the advantage on David Zabriskie of Iowa State.  That's right...three Big XII wrestlers in the top four.  Going to be tough sledding for either Ellis or Bradley in conference, but they stand to do quite well for the team outside of those matches.

The Season:

Action opens for the team this coming weekend out east with dual meets against Lock Haven (PA) and Bucknell.  Right now, the schedule has the Tigers taking on 12 teams either ranked or receiving votes, and that does not count the National Dual Meet which Mizzou will participate in, which will mean another 3-4 duals.  That is a great schedule (along with the prestigious Midlands Tournament and the Missouri Open earlier in the season).  Going forward, wrestling matches will earn their own write up when I get to them, and hopefully you all will enjoy and take a rooting interest in this nationally acclaimed program Coach Brian Smith has put together.

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