For those of you who have been around the site (and MizzouSanity before it...oh yeah...I went there), you know I used to be able to throw together some Monday Morning Musings after the All-Sports weekend would complete. As time and kids changed my weekends, it would often take something of rather large note to compel me to find the time to sit down and hash some stuff out. This past weekend, the performance of the Mizzou Wrestling team at the Cliff Keen National Duals did just that. So, let’s take a look back at the results of Friday and Saturday and what it means (if anything) going forward.
Friday Night vs. #5 Ohio State
It could not have started any better for the Tigers as #4 Alan Waters took on #12 Nikko Treggas. After a scoreless first period, Waters chose to start from the down position. He was able to reverse Treggas for the first two points of the match after 17 seconds, but then lightning struck and Waters stuck Treggas for a HUGE pin and quick 6-0 lead for the Tigers. After #4 Nathan McCormick lost a 8-2 decision to #1 Logan Steiber (one of only two people to beat McCormick this year) and Nick Hucke lost a 8-4 decision to #2 Hunter Steiber, MU was tied, but sitting nicely. But no one could have predicted Hucke’s loss (and he did a nice job to not give up more than a decision against a top-ranked wrestler) would be the last of the night for the Tigers.
First, #14 Drake Houdashelt would defeat #11 Cam Tessari 4-2 at 149 pounds. Then #19 Kyle Bradley would need OT to beat #18 Josh Demas 4-2 at 157 to push MU’s lead to 12-6. At 165, #20 Zach Toal would take a tough, 1-0 win over Mark Martin before another upset for MU at 171 where #13 Todd Porter took down #6 Nick Heflin 4-3. #13 Mike Larson would pitch a 5-0 shutout against #20 CJ Magrum before #17 Brent Haynes would complete the night of upsets for the Tigers, beating #12 Andrew Campolattano by the same 5-0 score. To top it off, #1 Dom Bradley would take a major decision at 12-4 over Kosta Karageorge to complete the 28-6 thumping of the Buckeyes.
Saturday afternoon vs. #1 Okie State
As MU entered the National Duals final weekend as the #5 seed, it meant their win over #4 seed Ohio State meant a date with the #1 seed. Earlier this year, the Tigers were dropped by Okie State 22-9, but there were some impressive individual results, as well as Dom Bradley not wrestling at HWY and MU giving up 6 points there. In this dual, MU would start with Waters notching a 3-1 win over Eddie Klimara to give the Tigers an early lead. At 133, McCormick would wrestle #6 Jon Morrison for the third time this year, with each having won a previous bout. Morrison would take this one 5-1 after scoring a 3rd period reversal and riding time point. Nick Hucke would defeat Julian Fickert for the 2nd time this season to give MU the lead again, but #1 Jordan Oliver majored Houdashelt at 149 to give OSU a 7-6 lead they would not relinquish.
#10 Alex Dieringer controlled Kyle Bradley for a 6-2 win, and then #3 Tyler Caldwell shutout Toal at 165 after Toal had taken him to OT in their last bout. With the team score sitting at 13-6, MU was looking for Todd Porter to recapture the magic he found against #2 Chris Perry back when he was #1 Chris Perry. That night, Porter dominated Perry on his way to a major decision of 9-1. On Saturday, Porter would get a 1st period takedown and give up the escape to lead 2-1 after 1. Perry would escape in the 2nd to tie the bout at 2, but Porter had the advantage of starting down to start the third. However, Perry would ride out Porter, giving him the 3-2 win after accruing the riding time advantage of 1:34. Now down 16-6, Larson would fall to #12 Chris Chionuma 6-4 before Haynes would get MU back on the winning side with a 10-4 win over Darnell Bortz (looks like Okie State gave #8 Blake Rosholt the match off). With the dual already in hand, there was still the matter of HWY.
#1 Dom Bradley had defeated #3 Alan Gelogaev earlier in the season, but then sat out the potential rematch at the Beauty and the Beast dual meet. On this day, Gelogaev would start off with a takedown in the first period, and Bradley’s escape would make it 2-1 after 1. Gelogaev would start the 2nd period down, and here is where it gets a little dicey. The scorebook shows the following, "Unsportsmanlike Conduct Gelogaev 1:50 (point Bradley), Unsportsmanlike Conduct Bradley 1:50 (point Gelogaev)" While I did not see it, what twitter shows is that Gelogaev threw a punch at Bradley as Bradley drove him out of bounds on the restart. Could there be other facts missing? Sure. But if that is what happened, then the double-foul seems like a tough break for Bradley. Gelogaev would go on to escape to make it 4-2, and while Bradley would do the same in the 3rd to make it 4-3, he could not get the points he needed to turn the match. The loss would send the Tigers to a date with #2 seed Iowa in the 3rd place match.
Saturday evening vs. #2 Iowa
While matches like this can be amazing, you have to look at the context in which it is combated. In this case, it was the 2nd match of the day and 3rd over about a 24-hour period. What does that mean? With the sport’s biggest month to come, some wrestlers did not step out on the mat. But two who did were at 125, where Alan Waters had a date with #1 Matt McDonough. I have had the occasion to see McDonough wrestle a few times this year, and he has prevailed in some close matches against decent competition. This night, Waters took it to him early, scoring a takedown in the first 30 seconds for a 2-0 lead. Waters would escape in the 2nd to make it 3-0, and after McDonough chose neutral to start the third, Waters took the riding time point for a decisive, 4-0 win. Will this win move Waters to the top of the 125 pound weight class? It very well may.
At 133, Nathan McCormick did not step out against #2 Tony Ramos, giving Ramos the forfeit win and Iowa a 6-3 lead. At 141, #8 Mark Ballweg of Iowa relented his spot to Josh Dziewa, who made the most of it in winning a major decision over Hucke to extend the dual lead to 10-3. MU would start their comeback at 149 as Houdashelt would take a 6-2 win over Brody Grothus. That comeback would get a HUGE boost from Kyle Bradley, who would make a tremendous comeback against #1 Derek St. John. Bradley would find himself down 1-0 headed to the third when he was able to escape and tie it up. St. John would score a takedown though, making it 3-1. Bradley would get out with 1:13 to go to cut the deficit to 3-2 before scoring a dramatic takedown with 27 seconds to go. He would hang on for the 4-3 win, getting MU back within a point at 10-9.
At 165, Toal would get to OT against #13 Nick Moore before giving up a takedown in Sudden Victory to fall 3-1. Porter would start his match against #3 Mike Evans with a takedown, but that was all the offense he could muster in a 5-2 loss. Now sitting at 16-9, MU would need to win all remaining matches to have a shot at the dual. Larson would do his part in a 3-2 win over #17 Ethan Lofthouse, and Haynes would do the same in a 1-0 win over #19 Nathan Burak. Down just a point, the Tigers simply needed #1 Dom Bradley to beat #11 Bobby Telford. Matching escapes would mean these two hit OT tied at 1-1. Matching escapes in the first rounds of OT pushed the score to 2-2 before Bradley would score the takedown in the 2nd Sudden Victory OT period for the exciting 4-2 win, giving MU the 18-16 dual win.
What does it mean?
Team rankings in wrestling are lovely, but they dont mean a whole lot. In fact, I enjoy how Intermat has come to do their rankings, which are based on how they believe the teams would finish in the NCAA’s (where Penn State has a slight lead over Iowa and MU showed in 6th as of the 2/16 rankings). All the same though, wins over two, top-five programs are never without worth. The domination of Ohio State was very impressive, with a lot of solid wins to give individual wrestlers good momentum and confidence as we hit March and tourney time. But for those of you who like the rankings, I would expect MU to see a bump in team rankings as they are updated this coming week.
The MAC Championships are in a couple of weeks (3/10) in Buffalo. Between now and then (and likely fairly soon), the NCAA will announce the conference allotment of spots in the NCAA Championships. Last year, a conference of 40 wrestlers (4 schools with 10 weight classes), the Big XII received 31 spots of the guaranteed 290 (40 more are selected by wild card to bring the total to 330, with 33 in each class). The conference’s allotment of qualifiers is based upon the following:
Each wrestler was measured on the following: Division I winning percentage; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches ranking. For each wrestler that reached the threshold in at least two of the three categories, his qualifying tournament was awarded a qualifying spot in that weight class.
So while MU achieved at a VERY high level at the Big XII Championships, the fact the conference received such a high percentage of spots certainly aided in our ability to be the only school to send 10 wrestlers. In some cases, the MU wrestler had qualified for the NCAA’s before even stepping out on the mat for the Big XII’s.
On the other side, the MAC, with six member schools, earned 20 automatic spots. Half the weight classes only sent the conference champion. Now, with the addition of MU and Northern Iowa, I expect the number of allocations to rise. Currently, the conference has 22 wrestlers ranked in the top 20 (not exactly indicative, but there is some merit to the number). There will be weight classes which will certainly receive multiple berths (133, 184, 197) but others are likely only to get the one (141, 149, 157). Can MU wrestlers be the one to take those top spots?
Another element to consider will be the number of matches folks will wrestle on 3/10. With 8 teams, but also with a need to determine 3rd and 5th place (though I don’t see it likely that a 5th place match win will get you into the NCAA’s), MU wrestlers will potentially be wrestling a little more than they did last year. Third place matches could be pretty important in some classes after a long day of wrestling.
(Big thanks to The Tailgate Princess and The Veal who took matching naps of length to allow me the time to ramble through almost 2,000 words to get this done)