Mizzou in the '00s: Best Moments of the Decade, #4

10. Basketball: Mizzou 78, Iowa 77 (2001)
9. Volleyball: 2005 Elite Eight
8. Football: 2008 Cotton Bowl
7. Football: 2005 Independence Bowl
6. Basketball: 2002 Elite Eight
5. Basketball: Mizzou 62, Kansas 60 (2009)

4. Wrestling: Ben Askren wins National Title (2006)


Mid-May of 2005 had to be a time Ben Askren had circled on his calendar.  That would be when All-American and multiple-time National Champion Chris Pendleton of Okie State would be graduating and would finally be out of Askren's ever-growing mane of hair.  Pendleton had dominated Askren in the first two years of his career, with Askren only defeating him for the Big XII title his freshman season.  Both years, Askren would make the national finals against him, only to fall short, including the 10-5 setback he had suffered on March 18th.  But in 2006, Askren would not even come close to falling short.  He dominated the season like few had before.  He would start the season on an amazing tear, winning 12 of his first 14 matches by pin (with the other two via tech fall).  He would defeat all comers, and set a ton of Mizzou records along the way, including most pins in a season with 25 (out of 45 matches), and most pins in a career when he broke J.P. Reese's record of 47.  Along the way, he would be named the Big XII Wrestler of the Month in December and the CSTV Student-Athlete of the Month in January.

Askren would hold his #1 ranking the entire regular season (only one of two wrestlers to accomplish that feat) and he would head into the Big XII Championships at the Hearnes undefeated.  After a first period pin in the semis and a dominant 13-4 decision over the nation's #4 wrestler in the finals, Askren would hoist his second Big XII title.  The last stop on his tour would be in Oklahoma City, where Askren was also ranked #1 and facing a solid bracket, including fellow undefeated wrestler #2 Jake Herbert of Northwestern.  After a 9-2 victory in the first round, Askren faced unseeded Wes Roberts of Oklahoma.  A close 6-4 decision would be the closest anyone would get to Ben the rest of the tournament.  He reeled off two straight technical falls, with a 18-3 decision over the #8 wrestler in the nation, and an amazing 21-6 finish in the semis against #5 Mike Patrovich of Hofstra. The scene was set as Herbert had lived up to his part of the bargain and made it through the bracket unscathed.  The match pitted two undefeated wrestlers...and was never even close.  Askren did what he wanted when he wanted and crushed Herbert 14-2 on his way to winning the Hodge Award as the Nation's top wrestler and becoming the first national title winner in Mizzou wrestling history.


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