Alright…lots of news to get to this week as the early season often features both dual meets for the "varsity" team and Open tournaments for the "JV" on the same weekend. Let’s talk about the duals first, as neither were close (nor should they have been), but each did have some action of note in them. For you, what was the most surprising thing to come out of the 20 matches (19 of which were won by Tigers)?
I'd probably have to say J'Den going HWT in both of his matches. We had heard rumors and rumblings over the off season that he may go up in weight for this season or future seasons. Is Smith thinking about moving him up because of Mellon's, uh, lackluster performance up in Iowa? Its interesting to wait and see, but Cox certainly did what you'd hope he would, picking up a Tech Fall and Major Decision in his two matches.
What stood out for you?
To touch on your bit…no...I don’t believe Cox moving to HWY is predicated on the performance (thus far) of Mellon. Certainly, Cox is going to be strong enough (both physically and from a wrestling standpoint) to beat a good number of HWY’s that are out there, and you could leverage that in meets if you liked the matchup Miklus would have at 197 behind him. But once those guys start to push up to 240 and more, Cox is going to lose advantage. Yes, I believe J’Den is destined to end up a HWY because he is still only 19 (wont be 20 until March) and is likely still growing just a bit. I would anticipate him taking a red shirt season at some point and then returning from it as a HWY.
Love seeing Manley with two, first-round falls. The same with the aforementioned Miklus (two falls), who likely slots in at either 184 next season (to replace Eblen) or perhaps at 197 (to replace Cox). Willie (and his brother Tim, who is a frosh at 165) are both Iowa kids, and you can never sleep on an Iowa wrestler.
Lots of folks got to wrestle this past weekend in the dual meet wins over Truman (54-0) and MO Bap (43-3). Names we expected to see (Waters, Houdashelt, Lavallee) had the weekend off while others either saw some chance action, and even others were moved to different weights (Lavion Mayes wrestled up at 149 for the weekend with a Tech and a major). However, even more guys saw action UCM Open. Anything stick out to you while I pour over the brackets myself?
I'd say the biggest shock of the UCM tournament was Mellon dropping 2 matches, 1 to an out of nowhere wrestler from MAU? I think one of the many good results we saw was true frosh Daniel Lewis winning the 165lb bracket with 4 first round falls and a decision in the finals. I still think this kid is good be really good and has a shot to start this season.
Anything else that caught your eye at the open?
I will bring it back to Daniel Lewis for a moment because of one of the results he had for the day (which went Pin, Dec, Pin, Pin, Dec). That fourth match, a first period pin, came against Cooper Moore of Northern Iowa. Moore is currently #11 according to Intermat, so this is no slouch of an opponent to beat, much less to stick in the first period. I know you were high on him at the start of the year, and I don’t yet know what the year has in store for Mizzou at this weight, but that is an interesting statement by the young Mr. Lewis.
Beyond that, I suppose I am always struck at the number of smaller wrestlers we have, but appear to lack on the other end of the spectrum. Lots of people at 125 and 133, but we had some empty classes at the higher weights. Just interesting roster management to me.
So let’s move it on over to the action for this coming weekend. What can you tell us about the Tigers next opponent?
Old Dominion is the next dual for the fightin' Smiths and they are no slouch. Intermat has them ranked as the #20 dual team in the country (Mizzou is ranked 6th) and its not hard to see why. They have ranked wrestlers at 125, 141, 149 and 184 pounds. Those 4 weight classes could decide the dual.
At 125 3rd ranked Alan Waters will face 18th ranked Brandon Jeske of OD. Jeske finished 3rd in the MAC last season as a true frosh and knocked off a few ranked wrestlers along the way. At 141 I think we may see the best match of the day when 10th ranked Lavion Mayes will see 4th ranked Chris Mecate of ODU. Mecate finished 2nd in the MAC last season and owns a 1-0 record against Mayes. This could be very interesting heading forward because these two are very likely to meet up again. At 149lbs 6th ranked Drake Houdashelt meets up with 11th ranked Alexander Richardson. Richardson qualified for the NCAA's last year as a sophomore and has a solid record against ranked opponents. ODU's best wrestler is at 184lbs and his name is Jack Dechow. Dechow is ranked 2nd currently and will wrestle 17th ranked Jonny Eblen of Mizzou. Dechow finished 4th at the NCAAs last year as a RS Soph.
Interested to see how Mayes does against Mecate. They met twice last year, with Mayes dropping each by a single point. Houdashelt met Richardson FOUR times last season, beating him 3-2 at The Southern Scuffle, 4-1 in the February dual against ODU, 3-1 in OT at the MAC Championships and then 13-0 in the NCAA’s. Seems he may have figured something out the last time they met. Eblen did beat Dechow 7-5 in their only meeting last year, as he was hurt by the time the MAC’s rolled around and Cody Johnston took an 8-3 loss to him. I would expect Waters and Drake to win and will see what sort of statement Mayes and Eblen can make. I would like to think Mizzou has a solid advantage in most of the other classes, so even if we split your four weight classes 2-2, we should still win on the backs of the other six matches.
Thats it for now. Mizzou vs ODU is on Sunday at 1pm. ODU's website is saying they may have a live stream for the game if you'd like to check it out.