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Mizzou 25: Harold "Spider" Burke Regional (Semifinal #2)

UPDATE: Called after 56 votes. Demontie takes it 66%-33%. It's safety vs safety in the Spider Burke finals.

Two rounds are almost in the books for Mizzou 25, the tournament to decide the best, most influential, most likable Mizzou athlete of the past 25 years!

Mizzou 25 is set up in four 8-athlete regions: the Norm Stewart Region (basketball), the Larry Smith Region (football), the Joann Rutherford Region (all sports), and the Harold "Spider" Burke Region (fan favorites). To see where the bracket currently stands, click here.

One Elite Eight slots remains! Here are the Spider Burke matchups.

3/21: Pig Brown vs Devin West
3/22: Demontie Cross vs Matt Pell

Demontie Cross vs Matt Pell




Art: For many years, he was the only tackler standing between a ball carrier and the endzone, and he always made the open field tackle. For a while he was the leading tackler in MU football history.

The Boy: When I came to school in '97, Demontie Cross, the 6'4, 210 transfer from St. Louis (via Univ. of Illinois) had already gone from human being to myth. To listen to the stories, he prevented 150 TDs by himself (hell, the numbers almost back that up) while playing with two separated shoulders, one kneecap, a broken ankle, and both a sports hernia and a regular hernia (whatever the difference is). He'd crush somebody, somehow drag himself to his feet, then do it again.

How hard did Demontie hit? Try 9 forced fumbles in his last 22 games as a Tiger. How well did he tackle? Not only did he become Mizzou's all-time leading tackler in just three seasons, but he also had 249 solo tackles! He was the last person standing between opponents and the endzone so often, and his heroic efforts allowed hope for the future to build as young offensive players like Corby Jones and Brock Olivo and Devin West developed.

I talk a lot on RMN about Success Rates and stats like that, but the definitive proof that I don't yet know what I'm talking about when it comes to defensive stats is that I'm pretty sure Demontie Cross wouldn't have scored very well when it came to Success Rates. If there were a TDs Saved category, however...Cross would be #1 all-time. And if ever there were a Tiger who deserved more team success than he got, it was Demontie.
chitowntiger: When thinking about Matt Pell, Scottie Pippen pops into my mind. Much like Michael Jordan was the Chicago Bulls, Ben Askren was the star of the Tiger Wrestling, and deservedly so. However, the Bulls would not have won their titles without Pippen, and Missouri would have been just as lost without Pell.

When Pell came to Columbia from Luxemburg, Wis., he would have been a natural at 174 pounds. Of course, Ben Askren was at that weight, so he spent his redshirt year at 157. The next year, Pell was happy to sacrifice for the team, moved up to 184 and qualified for NCAAs. In his next season, he cut down to 163, and shocked the wrestling world by earning All-American status. Large expectations loomed for Pell during the 2006 NCAAs, but he did not fare as well. Despite having a stellar season, he suffered a first-round upset and did not make it back to the medal stand. For his senior season, Pell steamrolled through the competition at NCAAs, racking up four pins and a third-place finish. The bonus points he earned put the Tigers over the top for a third place, Mizzou’s highest place ever.

His career at Mizzou was history-making, but statistics are not what makes Matt a fan favorite. His constant drive to do what was best for the team is. Every Mizzou wrestling fan was frustrated with his junior NCAAs because we knew of his potential. Seeing him take third with a thrilling pin during his senior season was just as satisfying as Askren’s second national championship, because it was a realization of all that we knew Pell could do. Unlike Pippen, Pell would never sit out with 1.8 seconds left.