Mizzou took on #16 Cornell...an interesting team which has some very highly rated wrestlers, but is only 1-4 on the season coming in. Mizzou is coming off of their very positive tie against Okie State last weekend, and will get back into Big XII play in the coming weeks. Going in, Mizzou was still short-handed at the lower weights, as Pescaglia at 125 and McCormick at 133 continue to work through their injuries. How would that impact the outcome? Let's take a look!
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John Olanowski has been doing his damndest to fill in for Pescaglia while he has been hurt the past couple of weeks. Being that 125 is usually the first weight wrestled, it is so important to get your team off to a good start. This time out, Olanowski got off to a great start with a couple of 1st period take downs, carrying a 4-1 lead into the 2nd over Cornell's Mike Rodriguez. In the 2nd however, it was a different story, as Rodirguez evened it up with an escape and late takedown. Headed to the 3rd tied at 4-4, Olanowski chose down, which should have given him the escape and lead with riding time not a factor. However, Rodriguez was able to ride out Olanowski and turn him right at the end to clinch the match, getting the extra point for riding time and winning 8-4, giving Cornell the early 3-0 lead.
With Olanowski losing early, it put Nick Velliquete into a really tough spot. Already in there as a fill-in for two-time All American Tyler McCormick, Velliquette was taking the mat against #3 ranked Mike Grey. Grey would dominate the mat and use a takedown in the last 30 seconds along with riding time of almost 3 minutes to take a 15-5 major decision, giving the Big Red of Cornell a 7-0 lead.
As has happened before, Marcus Hoehn stepped out at 141 in need of stopping a losing streak and controlling the rest of the dual. Last week, he did a great job of losing a close match to the #1 wrestler from Okie State, giving Mizzou only a decision loss, playing a huge part of the tie they achieved. This time, against Eric McGill, Hoehn got out early and was sitting on a 4-1 lead after the first. Hoehn reversed to start the 2nd period, and took a 6-2 lead into the third, where another takedown and plenty of riding time would give him a final win at 9-3, putting Mizzou on the board, now down 7-3.
Wrestling better of late, #15 Josh Wagner stepped out against DJ Meagher. Though taken down early, Wagner came storming back, dominating the action and getting two three-point near falls against Meagher, racking up the points and eventually taking an impressive major decision, 14-3. This would tie the match at 7-7 and put Mizzou right back in the match, especially with two of the best matches of the day coming up at 157 and 165.
The first of three banner matches on the day, pitting #14 Mike Chandler against #6 Jordan Leen. A scoreless 1st period brought Chandler winning the toss, but deferring his choice to Leen, who took down. Leen revered Chandler, and then an illegal hold by Chandler gave Leen a 3-0 lead going to the 3rd. Chandler took neutral to start the 3rd, and got a late take down, but it was not enough, as with riding time, Leen took the win 4-2 over Chandler. This would put Cornell up 10-7 going into the biggest match of the day with two top-5 wrestlers at 165.
#2 Nick Marable of Mizzou vs. #4 Mack Lewnes of Cornell....the kind of match you would expect in the national semis maybe. Given how the rest of the matches were looking, a win by Marable was going to be needed to give Mizzou an easier chance to win the overal meet. Marable got the early start with a take down halfway through the first. Lewnes escaped to make it 2-1 into the 2nd. There, Marable would be given the choice, choosing down and getting out 15 seconds in. The third would have Marable starting out with a 3-1 lead on top, and Lewnes escaped early on. However, Marable would fight off the late take down attempts and a stall warning, winning another HUGE match 3-2. Marable continues to take down top ranked opponents and needs to be mentioned in the conversation the top wrestlers at this weight.
With the win, Mizzou would be back to a tie at 10. Brock Wittmeyer would take the mat against #10 ranked Steve Anceravage. Going in, and with two matches coming up where Mizzou is heavily favored, Wittmeyer would be asked merely to control the action as best he can against the higher ranked opponent. Things did not start out well, with Wittmeyer being taken down 3 times in the 1st, and losing 6-2. Into the 2nd, Wittmeyer would impressively ride his opponent out (meaning he stayed on top for all two minutes). In the 3rd, Wittmeyer would escape, and with riding time not a factor, Brock would fall 6-3. Interestingly, I do not believe he has won a varsity match since starting after the semester, but he has done VERY well for the team in losing close decisions. Mizzou now trailed 13-10 and had to feel they had Cornell right where they wanted them heading to the big men.
Here and at 197 is where this match would be won or lost. #4 Raymond Jordan, who has impressed of late took on an unranked Mike Moore of Cornell, in need of some bonus points to give Mizzou their first lead on the afternoon. Jordan would start a little slowly against Moore, taking only a 4-2 lead to the 3rd period. However, in those two minutes, Jordan would escape and have FIVE takedowns, giving him with the riding time a major decision with the 17-6 win. This would put Mizzou up for the first time on the day at 14-13 with two matches to go, meaning if Max Askren could pin his opponent, he could clinch it for the Tigers.
Probably wrestling the best on the team right now, #4 Max Askren has been slowly climbing back towards the top which he occupied for some time last year as a frosh. Going up against unranked Taylor Moore of Cornell (not sure if he is related to Mike Moore at 184, but they probably are), Max would need a pin to secure the dual win for the Tigers. He would start strong and never look back, getting 6 takedowns on Moore, almost FOUR minutes of riding time (had 3:45, over half the match) and getting Moore on fleeing the mat (1 point) and stalling (1 point). The final would be a major decision at 16-3, just two points shy of a tech fall. This gave Mizzou a 18-13 lead, giving them a strong chance for another solid win headed to the HWY's.
The last of the banner matches on the afternoon, with #13 Mark Ellis of Mizzou going against #10 Zach Hammond. Any win by Ellis would clinch a win, with Hammond needing a tech fall for the tie and a pin for a one-point win. A great finish would be in store, as the men would go scoreless through the first. Hammond would take down in the 2nd, and get out in about 45 seconds, going up 1-0. Ellis would take down in the 3rd, and make his escape in 7 seconds. The two would be tied headed to overtime. Ellis would get bottom first, and escape with 20 seconds to go, putting him up 2-1. In the 2nd OT, Hammond would be down, and Ellis would ride him out for the win, 2-1, giving Mizzou the final 3 points for the final of 21-13.
Another strong win over a good squad by the Tigers. They are working hard to overcome their deficiencies at 125 and 133 and still winning duals, gaining confidence for their team. Unsung in all of this have to be Hoehn and Wittmeyer, who may not be winning, but are wrestling extremely well against top opponents of late. Nick Marable continues to be a leader out there, and Jordan and Askren are in a good run right now.
Coming up next for the Tigers will be a Saturday night, prime time match up against conference foe Nebraska. In the past couple of years, the Tigers had overtaken the Huskers, but perhaps not this year. The Huskers have huge wins this season, losing in the finals against Iowa at the National Duals. Mizzou will have their work cut out for them, as the Huskers will bring TEN ranked wrestlers, with SIX weights having two ranked wrestlers going head to head. Without Pescaglia and McCormick early on in this, Mizzou may struggle to win, but this will be another big match toward seeding at the Big XII Tourney coming up in about a month.