So...the MIdlands have come and gone and I think we have learned some things about the Mizzou wrestling squad. In the end, a 3rd place finish (team-wise) was to be expected since we were the third-best team (rankings wise). However, how we got there was not exactly how I am sure we would have drawn it up. I will go weight by weight here to cover our action and throw in some of my thoughts on the performance. As always, rankings are courtesy of Intermat
125: Troy Dolan is still in the process of becoming a solid option for us at 125, but that process is coming along. A 2-2 finish is about what I was expecting, though one of those wins was by medical forfeit. I will take ANY win over an Iowa wrestler, and he got that with his 1-0 win to start. He has wrestled #4 Nicholson from ODU tough both times, but has not come out on the winning end. The 9-5 loss to Lara from Oregon State is a little disappointing (Dolan beat a different 125 from OSU a couple of weeks ago). As long as I continue to see improvement from Dolan, I am not so worried about results at this point.
Overall at Midlands: Expected result, slight disappointment
133: #19 Todd Schavrien saw a LOT of action against ranked opponents the past two days, and came out of it pretty decently. Reports are he was down by a good bit to #14 Conroy, but got the LATE pin for the win. After a decision, he took a hard loss to #4 Fanthorpe, and then got stuck by a wrestler he probably should have defeated. However, for 7th place, he came back and beat #13 Beebe, finishing the tournament at 4-2 and a nice 2-1 against ranked opponents. I expect his ranking to rise next Tuesday when the new ones come out.
Overall at Midlands: Decent-sized surprise
141: The story of #14 Marcus Hoehn and the crappy draw of #1 Tsirtsis in the 1st round has already been well documented. However, he did a REALLY nice job wrestling out of the consolation bracket, ripping off five straight wins before getting back to face #3 Galilck of ISU who had been upset as well and should not have been down on the losers side. He shook off the loss there to win 7th place, closing the tourney a nice 6-2. The only thing I would have liked to have seen was a win or two over a ranked wrestler, but the schedule did not break for him that way. I could see him climbing a hair in the rankings.
Overall at Midlands: Pleasant surprise
149: Andrew Sherry also had a tough start to his tournament, drawing #6 Patacsil. He lost a pretty wide-open 12-7 decision, but came right back to win his next match in OT. However, he would fall victim to a REALLY late 1st period pin and his tournament ended with him at 1-2...the only Mizzou wrestler below .500. Still though, not exactly what either he or I was hoping for from this class. Not that I was thinking he would place (top 8), but I thought he would be around longer.
Overall at Midlands: mild disappointment
157 (Brooks): I did mention that I was surprised we did not take Patrick Wright with us for this tournament, as Emanuel Brooks came instead. His day started fine enough however, beating two seeded opponents in his first two matches before getting pinned by #16 Welch to finish day 1. He would not make weight on day 2 (wrestlers have to weigh in again, were given a 1-pound allowance) and his tournament would end in forfeit. I guess I was both surprised (at the wins) and disappointed (in his not being able to continue) in his 2-2 tournament outing.
Overall at Midlands: Um....both?
157 (Chandler): #7 Mike Chandler scored a 3 seed coming into the tourney, and started out with dominating wins...four of them to be exact, including one over #18 Knox. That brought him to a semi-final match against nemesis/rival #6 Sanderson of ISU and he lost there. Took a forfeit to get into the 3rd place match and defeated the #5 seed to get 3rd place (the #5 seed Winston lost to BOTH Mizzou wrestlers). In the end, 3 seed gets 3rd place on a very solid 6-1 record.
Overall at Midlands: To be expected.
165: #8 Nick Marable scored a 2 seed, actually getting seeded ahead of a few people who were ranked higher. Marable started off strong enough, taking 3 straight wins into the semis, including a 3-1 decision over #11 Bergsrud. He took on #3 Morningstar in the semis and got rode hard for a 2-1 loss. Down to the loser's bracket, he had some bad luck in that #2 Fay was waiting for him, and then beating him 4-2. Vying for 5th, he would lose his third straight match to an unranked wrestler from Iowa (Kerr) and would finish the tournament 6th. It was a stacked field, but this still hurts a bit to see him finish 3-3.
Overall at Midlands: Pretty disappointed, especially in the finish
174: #4 Raymond Jordan was also looking at a pretty stacked field (8 of top 12), but he started in a dominant fashion, scoring a pin and major decision in his first two bouts. His third win earned him a semi-final bout against #6 Cannon, which he would lose 3-2. Jordan (unlike Marable) was able to come back and win his next bout, setting up the match for 3rd against #2 Borschel from Iowa which most thought would be for the title. Borschel would prevail in strong fashion at 4-1, giving the #2 seed Jordan 4th place and a tourney record of 4-2
Overall at Midlands: Kind of disappointing
184: Dorian Henderson also had a tough draw, though the rankings and seeding would not show it. Umbehauer was the pre-season #6 ranked wrestler at 184, but for whatever reason, had not wrestled this season I believe (or at least had wrestled very little). Henderson dropped a 9-6 decision, but came back decently with two wins to close out Day 1. Day 2 brought a tough draw to start again, this time against #16 Blanton. Henderson got beat here 5-1 and ended his tourney at 2-2. I have a feeling he will fair better in the coming years.
Overall at Midlands: To be expected
197: Another #2 seed wrestler, as #4 Max Askren was the best Mizzou wrestler on day 1, taking two major decisions and a tech fall by the combined score of 41-5. That would set up a big-time semi-final against #5 Herbst of Wisconsin. Improving upon his previous outing against Herbst (a pin), Askren had a chance to tie it late in a wild match, but ended up losing 13-8. Moving down the bracket. he won his next match to get to the 3rd place match against an unranked Brown from Penn. Askren would be pinned with 9 seconds remaining in the match to fall to 4th, finishing 4-2
Overall at Midlands: Pretty disappointed, ESPECIALLY in the finish
HWY (Bradley): Did we save the best for last? Mizzou certainly showed something to the nation at the HWY class. All Dom Bradley did on his first day was take down the #1 seed/#2 ranked Zabriskie in OT before losing his next match to #18 Erekson. He would come back day 2, and pick up where he left off, beating #5 Wise of Illinois, and then beat Mike Tamilow, who had been #3 last season at 197 in OT. Another OT win over #16 Goff would get him to the 3rd place match where would lose the rematch against #2 Zabriskie 5-2, finishing the tourney in 4th. But, Bradley finished the tourney 5-2 and 3-2 against ranked wrestlers.
Overall at Midlands: VERY pleasant surprise
HWY (Ellis): So would #3 Mark Ellis be out-shined by his teammate? Ellis had a great draw, not facing a ranked wrestler on his perfect first day. The semis would see him beat #16 Goff with an OT takedown, giving him a finals match against #6 Schaeffer of Pitt. A 2-1 win in the finals gave Mizzou their lone champion of the tournament and Ellis a perfect 5-0 record. I COULD see him bumping up over Zabriskie, but since Zabriskie typically (maybe always) wins their head-to-head matches, he might not.
Overall at Midlands: Pleasant surprise
What does it all mean Basil?
Four surprises, five disappointments and three "in the middles" means Mizzou is skewing just down a bit. As I said, 3rd was where I figured they would end up, but 1-4 in the semis REALLY hurt. The team now has a couple of weeks to rest up before the ultra-competitive National Duals on 1/10 and 1/11. The team will need continued growth at 133 and 141, along with the bounce back of their stars at 165, 174 and 197 to be a major player, but this team will certainly get its chance to impress up there. There will be a LOT of HIGH level matches, and we could certainly see some Big XII previews (as there is nothing that stipulates that a conference team can't face another from the same conference). Should be exciting to folllow, hopefully with better coverage.