Mizzou 25: Joann Rutherford Regional (Quarterfinal #2)

UPDATE: Called after 63 votes.  It was tied early, but Cantwell pulled away in a major way, winning 73%-26%.

It's Mizzou 25, the tournament to decide the best, most influential, most likable Mizzou athlete of the past 25 years!  It's like Who's Now or The Greatest Highlight, only, uhh, cool.  

Mizzou 25 is set up in four 8-athlete regions: the Norm Stewart Region (basketball), the Larry Smith Region (football), the Joann Rutherford Region (all sports), and the Spider Region (fan favorites).  Here's the Mizzou 25 bracket in all its resplendent glory.

We're now knee-deep in the Joann Rutherford Region!  Here are the matchups. Mizzou’s had one great player in just about every sport in the last 25 years, so this is the best against the best.

3/6: Renee Kelly (Women’s Basketball) vs Ben Askren (Wrestling)
3/7: Nikki Thole (Soccer) vs Christian Cantwell (Track & Field)
3/8: Derrick Peterson (Track & Field) vs Lindsey Hunter (Volleyball)
3/9: Barb Wright (Softball) vs Max Scherzer (Baseball)

Nikki Thole vs Christian Cantwell

vs

1997-00

2000-03

Mizzou's best ever soccer player, Thole was an annual presence on the All-Big 12 list.  The 5'7 dynamo from StL's Lindbergh High School was the Wayne Gretzky of Mizzou Soccer, finishing her eligibility as Mizzou's all-time leader in goals (which she pulled off before her senior season even began) and assists (and therefore overall points).  Her 1999 season was the best offensive season Mizzou's seen--Thole was named second-team All-American and SoccerBuzz's Central Region Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Big 12 with 23 goals (1.00 per match), including 12 goals in 13 Big 12 conference games.  At one point, she scored a goal in 5 straight matches.

That '99 season was likely the most exciting in Mizzou's short soccer history--Mizzou won 14 games and made the finals of the Big 12 tournament, losing 2-1 to powerhouse Nebraska.  Mizzou moved on to the NCAA Tournament, and Thole scored both goals in MU's infamous played-to-dusk 4OT loss to Marquette.

Christian Cantwell is not only Mizzou's best thrower ever, but he's also a world champion.  In his first year post-Mizzou, CC won US and World Indoor championships in the shot put and posted World's Best throws for 2004 both indoor and outdoor.  He has a Mizzou record seven All-American honors, not to mention 17 Big 12 honors, and holds three school records.  His only flaw was that he always came up a bit short at the NCAAs.  His best finish was 2nd at the NCAAs as a senior, though you could say he hardly 'came up short' there, throwing a personal best.  But like Linas Kleiza, Cantwell has only improved since he left Mizzou.  An injury sidelined him recently, but since he got back on track, recently winning another National Indoor shot title and making the fourth-longest throw of all-time.

Cantwell has started a tradition of great throwers at MU, starting with Russ Bell and himself in the early '00s and continuing on to the likes of Chris Rohr today.

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