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Checking in on the wrestling team Pt. 2

BST: So, that was a pretty big win and a huge show of intestinal fortitude for our team last night, eh?

The Beef: It certainly was.  And I don’t want to take anything away from the outcome, which was surprising and impressive in the Tigers winning six matches.  But we would do our readers (all three of them) a disservice if we did not break this one down a bit to see how it happened, and how the Tigers prevailed against a bout card which was a little different than what we anticipated when we previewed this.

· 125 – Barlow McGhee (Fr), got it going with a 3-1 win to put MU up 3-0.  That win came against Sean Williams and not #7 Jarrod Patterson (a redshirt senior who is 14-2 on the season)

· 133 – Matt Manley (RS-Fr) suffered a technical fall to #8 Cody Brewer, losing 18-3 in full time.  I was a little disappointed to see this outcome.  Not the loss itself, but the magnitude of it.  Just not Manley’s night

· 141 – The first big surprise of the night for me was seeing Lavion Mayes (RS Fr) beat #15 Nick Lester 6-4.  This decision would move the Tigers back on top of the dual at 6-5

· 149 – Biggest match of the night, and one of the two or three biggest matches of the year in the country at this weight.  Drake Houdashelt (Jr) solidified his claim to being the #1 seed at the NCAA’s in March by taking down #2 (and returning champ) Kendric Maple 3-2.  Another decision pushed the dual score to 9-5

· 157 – Joey Lavallee (FR) had a decent showing against #18 DeAngelis of OU, but lost a decision 5-3.  The dual score moved to 9-8 MU

· 165 – Not sure the reason, but #12 Zach Toal took a seat and Jordan Gagliano (Sr) lost a 6-2 decision to Glass.  OU took the lead at this point 11-9

· 174 – In another surprising decision, #18 Mikey England (Jr) was able to score a big win (6-1) over his opponent, but his opponent was not #1 and undefeated Andrew Howe, and instead it was Derek Geiges.  MU retook the lead 12-11

· 184 – Howe would find the mat, but at 184, where he would be matched against Cody Johnston (Soph), and not #15 Johnny Eblen.  Howe showed how great a wrestler he is, giving up 10 pounds and still scoring a major decision by the tally of 22-9.  OU retook the dual lead 15-12 at this point

· 197 – Second match of the night with big NCAA implications had #6 J’Den Cox (Fr) against #3 Travis Rutt.  Cox scored some early back points  on his way to an impressive 6-1 win, tying the dual score with one match to go

· HWY – Devin Mellon (Jr) would bring home the win for the Tigers with a surprising 6-0 blanking of #16 Ross Larson.  The decision made the final score 18-15

So, huge wins for MU at 141, 149, 197 and HWY.  Who were you most impressed by?

BST: You are correct; it really was a match that was about those 4 weight classes. I followed the dual last night on twitter and was basically watching just to see what Houdashelt and Cox could do against more top flight competition. Once we got to Mayes and his surprising outcome I thought we could win the whole thing. As far as biggest match of the night goes I think it has to be 149, and I'll get to it in a second. We talked yesterday about Cox and I think we can safely say this is the most impressive TRUE FRESHMAN season we've ever seen from a Tiger. The kid is flat out relentless and has as bright a future as any Mizzou wrestler ever. Mellon continues to be solid if not downright impressive. He has had some good wins and has floated right around the top 20 throughout the season. Being at the back end of the weights and routinely coming on to the mat with duals or big tournament points on the line, hes come out with a win more often than not. He, Mayes and McGhee will be huge in the consolation matches for the conference and possibly NCAA tournaments.

Now, let’s talk about Houdashelt. Drake is 26-1 with 5 pins, 5 tech falls and 6 major decisions. He has wins over the currently ranked #2, 3, 5, & 8 wrestlers in his weight class. As you mentioned, his win last night was over the current national champ in his weight class. Drake is putting together what is unarguably the best season in the country at his weight class and one of the top seasons in any weight class. Mizzou has done a good job of ensuring that our guys are still getting top flight competition even if we aren't in a big name conference and Houdashelt is taking every advantage of it. At this point Drake has to be the odds on favorite to win the NC. Now we've seen a few guys go into the NCAA's ranked #1 here recently and have "disappointing" years. The best thing about this season is that it’s not his or Cox's last years. Even if they do falter and ONLY finish as an AA they still have another year (or more) left and they know that. The pressure to go out on top isn't there and I think that is a good thing.

Man oh man. I thought this past football season was fun, coming out of relative nowhere. This wrestling season is proving to be every bit as enjoyable for me so far.

The Beef: The upcoming matches for Houdashelt and Cox against Okie State (provided that Cox does face #10 Rosholt and Drake faces #8 Kindig) are important because they will potentially be the last matches against ranked opponents until the MAC Championships.  Each one has a loss against an Ohio wrestler who I would have to guess they are likely to face again at the MAC’s, so I like having the revenge play a part there.  Don’t get me wrong, I love having undefeated wrestlers, but ones who lose a match or two during the year is not terrible either.  Cox is four points from undefeated and Houdashelt is two, so it is not like the losses were all that bad (and all wrestlers involved are ranked).

Anyway, while both of those wins were important and impressive, I really was the most excited about Mayes at 141.   He has overcome a slow start to move to losing to ranked wrestlers in OT (as he did twice in Jan) to now beating them.  That was his fourth ranked opponent of the month, so the seasoning is starting to build nicely on him.   The MAC is a tough road at 141, with three ranked people in there, but it is going to be really important for our NCAA showing for him to get a berth.  As for McGee, if he is someone who can be at 125 for a few years (always a tough ask), then I like how he is coming along as well.  So many underclassmen in the lineup which will add Waters back next season is really exciting.

So let’s focus on Okie State specifically now:

· Synon has actually faced Klimara at 125, losing the famed 0-0 decision (must have gone to riding time I guess), McGee has nott

· Manley has an even tougher date at 133 with #4 Jon Morrison than he had against OU

· Mayes has pinned and was pinned by Collica, but Mayes’ win is the more recent of the two bouts

· We’ve already talked about Houdashelt against #7 Kindig

· Tough road for Lavallee at 157 against #3 Dieringer, who he lost to previously 7-4

· As I mentioned earlier in the week, Toal is 0-6 against #5 Caldwell (if he even wrestles)

· England draws #2 Perry at 174 (boy howdy is Okie State stacked in the middle), though he wrestled him tough in losing 3-2 at the Joe Parisi Open in November

· Eblen or Johnston will face a ranked Boyd (#20)

· Cox has faced two wrestlers from Okie State now that I look at it.  He defeated Rosholt (#10) 7-3 back in November, and again 4-0 at the Scuffle and also beat Bortz earlier at the Scuffle 5-0.  I like his chances against whoever Okie State steps out

· Mellon will have another shot to take down a ranked wrestler (and if he does, I bet he becomes ranked himself) in #17 Marsden

Which match(es) are you looking forward to most?

BST: Goodness, Okie State is freaking loaded in the middle. I'd love to see them face up against Penn State or Cornell in a dual. Houdashelt and Cox will have "tough" matches but ones they should win. I guess you gotta look at 184 and heavyweight. We've stolen a few matches against ranked guys here lately and these could very well be the same. Whom ever we throw out at 184 should have a good shot and I'd really like to see Mellon grab another ranked win this weekend. I think he may be tied with Mayes as the most improved wrestler since the start of the season. If we could get 5 matches here (149, 184, 197, HWT and one more) I think it'd be a successful trip down south and most likely a 1-1 weekend against 2 highly ranked teams. Your thoughts?

The Beef: If we are winning 5 matches, we have a shot at winning the dual, though bonus points in the losses obviously play a role.  Hell, we won 6 out of 10 against OU, but still only won 18-15.  That said, unless the Okie State lineup has some changes like the OU lineup did, I really do see wins at a premium here.  125 is a bit of a toss-up for me, I like Mayes at 141 and Houdashelt at 149. I could see Eblen over Boyd at 184 and I like J’Den to win at 197.  If you get Devin at HWY, those are the six you probably need to offset potential bonus points in the other matches and to win it.  Duals are exciting to win, and they certainly help with national standing.  But at the end of the day, wrestling is still an individual sport, and I would be very pleased with the individual results which would have happened/have to happen to bring us to a 2-0 weekend.

BST: I agree that we very well could pull out the dual victory with just 5 match wins but I'm assuming we don't get any extra points and they do. That certainly could change if Mayes, Houdashet or Cox could pull of a Fall or MD. Either way, I agree, this looks like a very successful weekend for our guys and this season is shaping up to be a successful one.