Mizzou Wrestling at the mid-season point

BST:

So, Mizzou wrestling has a pretty big weekend ahead of it. Intermat has Oklahoma ranked #4 in the country and Okie State at #5. Our Tigers will face ranked wrestlers in every weight class but 1. #1 ranked Drake Houdashelt will face off against #2 ranked senior Kendric Maple from Oklahoma, #18 Mikey Englang has the pleasure of wrestling both the 1st and 2nd ranked wrestlers in his weight class & J'den Cox will get to see 2 different top ten wrestlers this weekend.

What are your thoughts on the team and what do you hope to see from our guys this weekend?

The Beef:

Let’s start with the team first.  When news of Alan Waters’ redshirt came down, I really thought this would be a true, rebuilding year for the squad….and that was OK.  We had a tremendous recruiting class, and we would scramble a bit this year and next year (2014-2015) would be better.  But then J’Den Cox (who I assumed would sit out the year before becoming the HWY next season), stepped on the mat for the first dual at 197.  And then Drake Houdashelt ascended quickly at 149 to the #1 spot in the country.  And all of a sudden, we had a nice grouping of ranked wrestlers (especially from 149-197) and the year looked like it could be decent.  But then Kyle Bradley was removed from the team at 157 and another true frosh (Joey Lavallee) also had his redshirt burned.  I think Lavallee will be pretty soild in his Mizzou career, and he certainly came in with much acclaim, but MUTigers.com talks about how he was expected to redshirt…at 149 pounds.  Losing Bradley hurts when it comes to defending our MAC title and potential placing at the NCAA’s, as Bradley was expected to perform well at both in his senior season.

So to sum up, this is QUITE the transition year, and it seems like the year even transitioned a couple of times within the year.

Where do we stand for the weekend?  Probably staring down two dual losses. And there is nothing wrong with that.  Here is how the rankings (per Intermatwrestle) line up in each weight class (OU/OSU/MU)

· 125 – 7/14/NR

· 133 – 8/4/20 (Way to go freshman Matt Manley for cracking the Intermat rankings as a frosh)

· 141 – 15/20/NR

· 149 – 2/8/1  (Drake certainly can go a long way towards further solidifying his claim to the top seed at the NCAA’s in March with a win over Maple from OU)

· 157 – 18/3/NR

· 165 – NR/5/12  (Can Zach Toal get a win over a former rival in Caldwell from OSU…I am guessing no as he is 0-6 in his career and I don’t know that he has a single takedown against him)

· 174 – 1/2/18 (Good luck Mikey England)

· 184 – NR/NR/14  (John Eblen is going to have to pin each opponent two or three times a piece for us to win these duals J)

· 197 – 3/10/6  (Could be another signature weekend for J’Den Cox as he continues to move up the national rankings)

· HWY – 16/17/NR  (Devin Mellon probably has a decent shot here, as he will be wrestling a frosh and soph, so he at least should have the benefit of experience on his side)

BST:

Well said on this season. Its about as strange a single season as I can remember in Mizzou wrestling history. Arguably the best returning wrestler sits out the season. A top 3 returning wrestler is no longer wrestling and Houdashelt shoots up the rankings like nothing I've seen in our teams history before. Cox looks like he has a real shot at being the best freshman wrestler in Mizzou history (which is saying  A LOT) and we have other young guys really stepping up and performing solid considering everything.

Going forward, where do we finish in the MAC regular season and tournament? How many guys do we get in the NCAA?

The Beef:

I will go ahead and correct your statement on J’Den to make sure the wording is specific.

"Cox looks like he has a real shot at being the best TRUE freshman wrestler in Mizzou history"

Both Askrens took a redshirt season before Max ascended to #1 in the nation for the NCAA’s on a one-loss season (though that ended in disappointment) and Ben made it to the National Championships before falling to Pendleton.  J’Den has his work cut out for him to be sure, but a MAC title and a AA are certainly both goals which I think are very obtainable, and quite impressive for a true frosh.

As for the team and the rest of the season, you have to like what UNI (Northern Iowa) is putting out there on the mat right now, so I like them to take the MAC.  I think Central and Kent will be in the mix, and we will be as well.  I would expect Houdashelt to be a champ.  I think Toal has it in him to do it, but man oh man does he need to start coming up big against similarly-ranked wrestlers.  And finally, I think Cox certainly has a shot.  3 champs wont be enough though, as we will need other strong finishes from people from whom we might not expect it.

As for the NCAA’s, the names remain pretty much the same.  I think anything less than a Top-4 finish for Houdashelt will be disappointing.  Toal has it in him to AA, but I need to point back to my previous statement about his performance against similarly-ranked people.  As for J’Den, I think AA is a solid goal.  Beyond that, you again need someone like a Matt Manley at 133 to go on a run (probably on the loser’s side) and a Joey Lavallee to do the same (provided they both make it).  In the end, I think Mizzou might get a top-20 finish, and next year will be much better with some additional seasoning and the return of Waters (presumably at 133, so it begs an interesting question about what to do with the aforementioned Manley)

BST:

Ha, thanks for the clarification. As always you are much more polished in your speaking than I. I agree on the finishes for this season. Top 20, 3 AA's and one potential top 4 should be solid and attainable goals right now. Looking forward to next season it certainly does seem like we'll have some shuffling to do. This is a good thing for us. We won't be moving guys around because they aren't very good, we will need to make room for 3 returning AA's and 2 or 3 guys who will certainly have that kind of potential. I'd say Brian Smith has about as good a job security as anyone on campus right now and rightfully so.

The Beef:

Yeah…him and Coach E have to be considered the safest because of their results vs. exposure of the team in the mainstream media (which is why Haith and Pinkel are not as safe in comparison, though I certainly do not believe either to be in trouble).  So if I have to project for next year (because it is never too early to do that), here is what I would think:

· 125: Barlow McGee – true soph

· 133: Alan Waters – RS senior

· 141: Wow…this could go a LOT of different ways.  I will put Lavion Mayes (RS Soph) in there, but it really could be a lot of different people (Wiest-SR, Jauch-JR, someone else?)

· 149: Drake Houdashelt – SR

· 157: Joey Lavallee – Soph

· 165: Not sure about this one either…maybe Matt Lemanowicz – RS Soph

· 174: Mikey England – SR

· 184: Johnny Eblen – SR

· 197: J’Den Cox – Soph

· HWY: Devin Mellon – SR

Lots of turnover coming for 2015-2016, but next year should be a quick peak for the Tigers before another rebuilding year to come.

BST:

Goodness that is some talent. We would be losing a lot of talent after next year but the prospect of having possibly 2 AA's that are underclassmen returning for the 15-16 seasons would be a huge luxury. Smith does have another solid recruiting class coming in according to intermat:

Wood Mancuso           West Carteret  NC      184/1971

John Erneste    Park Hill          MO      133/141

No. 88 Samuel Crane  Rock Bridge    MO      141 3 time finalist, 1x state champ

No. 36 Daniel Lewis   Blue Springs    MO      141/149  - 3 time state champ at 3 weight classes and could make it 4 this spring.

and it looks like theres another local kid that should get some serious interest from Smith & Co. very soon:

http://www.kansascity.com/2014/01/23/4772363/park-hills-ke-shawn-hayes-no-1.html

The Beef:

Daniel Lewis was the interesting name to me potentially at 141, but I think he may be too big.  If I am reading some info correctly, he is wrestling up at 160 this season (or at least did at the KC Stampede).  Perhaps Erneste competes for the spot.  Or maybe Lavallee gets big enough to fill the 165 spot and Lewis settles into 157.  I’d probably take that one

BST:

I wouldn't be surprised to see Lavallee get big enough for that at all.

The Beef:

Without having seen him and knowing that he appeared to be somewhere between 149 and 157, 165 is another step entirely.  We shall see.

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