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Big XII Wrestling Championship Wrap-Up

Another Big XII Championship has come and gone, and with an interesting twist this time around.  As I talked about in this piece, Nebraska could potentially have had a shot at overtaking Iowa State this season, especially if 125 champion Paul Donahoe were still on the team.  In the end, the Big XII Championship would end in a tie as NU and ISU would each score 70 points with the Tigers not terribly far behind in 3rd place.   Let's take a quick look at each weight class to see where some surprise efforts (both good and bad) were found.

125 - Troy Dolan did not get much done at this first Championship, and Joey Fio scored a mild upset in the first of what would be a number of disappointing outcomes for the Cyclones on their way through the championships.

133 - I said I would be very surprised if Todd Schavrien was able to receive a NCAA wildcard.  Well, color me even more surprised when he came back from his first round loss to Vacanti of NU to win two in a row and earn the third berth from this class.  Fanthorpe of ISU did what I expected and moved through with fairly little problem

141 - Another surprise was certainly here, though maybe the biggest surprise is that it may no longer be considered a surprise.  You see, Marcus Hoehn was fairly unremarkable as a 141 pound junior, and many expected him to lose his spot to Ashtin Primus, who was coming off of a redshirt season.  So when Hoehn retained the spot, the surprises started.  He went on through the season and slowly made his way up the conference and national charts.  He upset Nick Gallick at the last dual of the season to earn the #1 seed in the Big XII's.  He would go on to win the championship and gives himself a tremendous shot at earning a top-8 seed at the NCAA's.  Get one of those, hold your seed and you are an All-American.  But let's leave all of that for another day and focus on congratulating and honoring a wonderful achievement by this senior.

149 - This class, whether it is at Mizzou, in the Big XII or nationally is down this season (and will be dominated by Metcalf of Iowa at the NCAA's).  Andrew Sherry lost his first two matches and Kyle Terry dominated Mitch Mueller of ISU to give OU their 2nd champion on the evening.

157 - Here is where the action started to pick up.  Mike Chandler did earn a spot in the finals against Jordan Burroughs of NU, and did VERY well to hang with the #3 ranked wrestler, falling 6-4 in the end.  I finally got one pretty right from my predictions :-)  As for Chandler, he came into the tournament ranked 6th and I think has a very good chance to be ranked inside the top 8 as he looks to close out his career with an all-american finish at the NCAA's

165 - Nick Marable appears to have returned to the form he had at the end of last season which made him so tough in the Big XII's and NCAA's.  Marable did what he needed to do at each turn, and won out over Stephen Dwyer of NU (after Reader of ISU was upset in the semis) in sudden victory for his second straight Big XII Championship.  Marable will certainly carry a top-8 seed to St. Louis in a couple of weeks.

174 - I really like Jordan here to finish off his senior conference season in style, but Brandon Browne from NU is 3rd in the nation for a lot of reasons.  Jordan defeated Browne earlier, but could not match the effort in Lincoln, losing a tough battle by the final score of 3-1.  Jordan came into the weekend 5th in the nation and is a very good bet to repeat as an all-american for Mizzou.

184 - I was hopeful Dorian Henderson would get a win or two here to get his automatic spot, since waiting on a wildcard spot (even though he had ascended to #20 this past week) is never a given.  He went to sudden victory, where he was put down straight to his back and lost 9-5.  I think that must have seriously deflated him, as he was pinned in the first period by Flynn of OU to end his run.  He will now have to wait until Wednesday of this week (or Thursday) for the NCAA to announce the people receiving wildcard bids.

And Jones made me a winner by beating Ward of ISU.

197 - What a friggin bloodbath this group is.  All five wrestlers in the top 11 nationally.  Max had a really tough match-up against Brester of NU, and though I liked him to rebound from his earlier loss to him, Brester really handed it to Max by the ugly score of 15-4.  Askren did very well then to come right back and win the next two, giving him 3rd place.  A rather large upset here (and another disappointment for ISU) as Varner was defeated by Brester (who REALLY earned his MVP award).  Askren is likely looking at a top 8 seed

HWY - Another bloodbath here, as the top 3 in the Big XII will also likely hold the same spots at the NCAA.  Mark Ellis got by Jared Rosholt for the second time this season to earn a trip to the finals against Zabriskie of ISU.  Even though Ellis had the entire arena in Lincoln pulling for him (as his win would have meant NU would win the Big XII outright), it was not to be as Zabriskie earned a takedown very late in the second and held off a great attempt late in the 3rd to win 3-1.  I expect Ellis to enter the NCAA's at the #2 spot.

Review - 7 in the NCAA's was what I was hoping the evening would give, with another chance for an 8th via the wildcard.  I certainly feel better about Henderson's hopes of earning a wildcard spot at 184 over Schavrien's at 133 like I talked about in the preview.  I really do believe Mizzou is looking at the potential of six wrestlers with top 8 seeds, meaning the possibility for multiple AA's is high.  NO ONE is likely to beat Iowa, but with Marable, Hoehn and Ellis wrestling as well as they have been along with Chandler, Jordan and Askren, Mizzou is certainly positioned to have a very good chance at their best NCAA finish in team history....certainly another good step in the evolution of the program.

Oh...and I went 5-5 picking champions....chalk would have given me 8-2...oh well