Can you believe it? Special Friday night coverage here at Rock M Nation? Well, that is how important you readers are to us. So, after my evening of El Maguey, grocery shopping and downloading all our Cotton Bowl pictures, here I am to bring you the results and some thoughts following Mizzou's first home dual of the season, which was against east coast power Bucknell. Mizzou carried an undefeated mark into the meet....would they keep it? Read on to find out.
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When the live stats (which was a sheet being constantly updated as a pdf on MUTigers.com) first came out, Mizzou's projected starting lineup had an exciting mix of 9 ranked wrestlers and one transfer from Penn. However, right out of the gate, there were some changes. John Olanowski got the dual started instead of the ranked Tony Pescaglia. Olanowski took advantage of the opportunity and got Mizzou off to a great start, as he tech'ed his opponent :39 into the third period, giving Mizzou an early 5-0 lead. John used 2 near falls (3 points each) to run up an early lead, and finished off Matos of Bucknell early in the third. Olanowski may still see some action next weekend as Mizzou heads to the National Duals (more on that later), but odds are Coach Smith simply took advantage of a chance to keep Pescaglia fresh, and it paid off very well here.
So here was something I did not expect to see. I figured that if Olanowski was starting us off that we would DEFINITEL not see #4 ranked Tyler McCormick take the mat tonight against #20 David Marble. However, McCormick headed out there, and came back on the short end of a high scoring 16-9 decision. McCormick got up early, but Marble was able to escape and earn near fall points on Tyler to finish the 1st. The two traded take downs and escapes in the 2nd and Marble took enough of the action in the 3rd to end up the winner. Disappointing result to say the least for Tyler, but I have learned not to really get too much into his early season results, as he has come through the past two years when it has mattered. At any rate, this did tighten the dual at 5-3.
Marcus Hoehn returned to the mat against Luke Chohany of Bucknell, and Hoehn came right out and took down his opponent 12 seconds into the match. Unfortunately, that is really all the offense Hoehn could muster, and after two escapes, the match was tied at 2 headed to the third. There, with Hoehn on bottom looking for the escape point to give him the lead, he was turned with only about 30 seconds remaining, and could not recover, losing the match 5-2. I imagine Hoehn is probably pretty upset about this decision, but it is a learning year for him. For the night, this gave Bucknell their 2nd decision against the Tigers, and actually put them in the lead at this point 6-5.
Mizzou would regain control of the night with Josh Wagner taking the mat and pitching a shutout against his opponent, winning a major decision 14-0. This would put Mizzou back up for good at 9-6. Wagner used takedowns and near falls in each period to rack up the points against his opponent, and almost earned the tech fall in the end. Wagner will be key to Mizzou's efforts next weeked in Cedar Rapids, and it was nice to see him back out there dominating his opponent in fine fashion.
Mike Chandler continued his strong start to the season and also kept the Mizzou handle on the dual when he took on and easily dispatched Brantley Hooks (that is just a good name) at the 157 class, easily taking a major decision 14-3. The three points were all earned via escapes which came within seconds of takedowns Chandler earned in the 3rd period, which is a classic sign of a wrestler's domination. The triumverate of Wagner/Chandler and Marable at the middle weights is going to be an important group for Mizzou in each dual and tournament this season, and when all three win, it will be tough to stop Mizzou from winning.
This match was only the 2nd of the night where both wrestlers came in ranked (I guess Bucknell is down some this year). #3 Marable took on #20 Rendos, and this was a tough match. Marable used an early take down, and with Mendos' escape, was up 2-1 going to the 2nd. Marable was able to escape quickly in the 2nd to push the lead to 3-1, but could not mount any offense. Rendos escaped quickly in period 3 to put the match at 3-2, but neither wrestler could gain the advantage and the match finished as a 3-2 win for Marable and another 3 points for Mizzou on the evening. Mizzou lead at this point 16-6.
Back to the pre-match list of potential wrestlers, this was the match I was the most curious about. Before hand, it was listed that recent transfer (from Penn) Brock Wittmeyer would make his first Mizzou start, which made sense since this was the first action since the semester had closed. However, when it came time to trot someone out there, James Williamson earned the start for Mizzou. Williamson was down 3-2 after a late takedown in the 3rd period, but could not get his opponent Shane "Don't Call me Sonny" Riccio rolled, and gave up a late escape to fall 4-2. The match moved Bucknell back within shouting distance at 16-9.
Raymond Jordan ended any hope of Bucknell coming back to win the dual, as he took the mat at 184 and put up another impressive Mizzou performance, tech'ing his opponent thanks to the extra point from riding time 18-3. This win made Mizzou a virtual lock to win, as it pushed the lead to 21-9, making it impossible for Bucknell to come back and win, though they could have tied. Jordan will be another key cog to the Mizzou performance next weekend, and a great weekend from him may go a long way towards helping Mizzou take home the title, as with him, Askren and Ellis finishing matches, Mizzou is extremely tough at the heavy weights.
My guess is that with the Jordan tech fall and the dual wrapped up, Coach Smith decided to make a late change and rest Max Askren, while also giving red shirt frosh Josh Skurnik his first MU action, interestingly enough up one weight from where he is projected to wrestle. Skurnik made the most of his chance and came flying out of the gate, getting a takedown and near-fall early in the first, and using riding time to take him to an 8-4 win. Congrats to Josh on the effort and win, and this would move Mizzou ahead 24-9 and completely salt away their 5th straight win.
Finishing in grand style, as he has on many occassions this season, Mark Ellis earned a fall for the Tigers (their only one of the night) as he pinned his opponent early in the 3rd period for the win and ending the dual with Mizzou as a pretty dominating 30-9 winner. Ellis will look to really make a name for himself next weekend, as the higher Mizzou goes in the tournament, the more and more likely that his match will determine winner and loser.
So...I have been hinting at it all write-up, but next week is the annual National Duals, which really is my favorite format of tournament. It is a 16-team tournament, where teams wrestle regular dual meets, but team winners and losers advance through a bracket. Using the rankings of Themat.com, here are the teams and rankings which will be appearing next Saturday and Sunday in Cedar Rapids
Iowa State #2
Penn State #4
Central Michigan #5
Ohio State #12
UNI (receiving votes)
Folks...that is just sick. 11 of the top 12 and 14 of the top 17 in the country will be participating. If their seeding follows this ranking, Mizzou will have a tough draw, not only getting #11 Nebraska in the 7/10 matchup (think bracket of 16 from the NCAA basketball tournament), but the winner would likely move on to face #2 Iowa State. The tournament is wrestle until you cannot wrestle anymore I believe, so Mizzou will end up with a number of matches no matter how they do. I will do my best next weekend to keep the site as up to date as I can with results and some brief thoughts, and will do a full wrap-up to start the following week. Keep an eye here, MUTigers.com and the All-Sports page on tigerboard.com, as well as the discussion page on missouriwrestling.com for updates and results next weekend.