Beef: In what was likely the biggest home weekend in the home schedule for this season, the Tigers took it to the Buckeye state in a big way, taking down both tOSU and Ohio. Let's start with Saturday night in what appeared to be a pretty electric atmosphere at the Hearnes, lit on fire by Zach Synon. Give me your reaction to the start of the meet.
Shaffe: The start against Ohio State almost couldn't have been any worse. The dual kicked off at heavyweight as Brian Smith probably wanted to get his weakest spot in the lineup out of the way, and James Romero showed a nice roll to pick up some back points and eventually a 7-2 lead in the match but ultimately did what he's done far too often this year and got himself in a bad position and gave up the pin. With a 6-0 dual lead defending national champ Nate Tomasello went out and dominated Barlow McGhee to give the Buckeyes a 9-0 lead on the evening. Barlow didn't look very good at all and again gave up a lot of stalling calls against a high level opponent (much like we saw him do against Dylan Peters). Was McGhee a bit over ranked at #8 coming into this weekend, or is Tomasello just that much better than the field at 125?
BST: It was a pretty disastrous start from the team points standing. Romero, however, showed some more flashes of what we hoped he could do. Watching his match, he looked comfortable on the attack and kept moving, looking for more. He reminds me a lot of Willie Miklus at the moment. If Romero had gotten the chance to RS this year, gain some good weight and work on his patience he could be much further ahead of where he is right now. Giving up quite a bit of weight is tough no matter what, but going up against top flight upper class-men will almost always show your flaws. It sucks that Romero got pinned, but there was some good in that match at least.
Barlow was outgunned from the get go. He didn't look comfortable or able to do anything he wanted to. That will happen to a lot of guys against Tomasello, dude is a legit #1. I'd say Barlow was a bit too highly ranked, but nothing egregious. He had a bad showing against a national champ, at least he didn't give up big time team points.
Shaffe: Hey since Beef is having email issues we should just run this thing off the rails and see how he reacts. Or, better yet, hopefully he can receive but can’t reply so he can watch it happen live.
I’ll start: The Mets would have easily won the World Series if they had a manager as awesome as Ned Yost.
BST: Ned Yost + better fans (you know, the ones in Mid America) would have meant a clean sweep of the playoffs and probably 2-3 more world series in the next decade. At least.
Shaffe: Also, what’s up with homebrewing vodka for bloody mary’s? Is that even legal? I think just to be safe I’ll have to alert all authorities in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. Such menaces to society shouldn’t be allowed to roam the streets freely.
BST: I'm pretty sure its just cheap vodka that he puts a carrot into and then pretends its some kind of high end creations. I haven't tried it as I'd kinda like to keep my eye sight for now.
Also, project managers.........what do they really do?
Shaffe: Whatever they do apparently they can’t even keep an email account up and running. Typical incompetent telecom. I’m really not surprised at all they passed him over for that last promotion.
Beef: I wish J'Den had dropped both you on your collective heads
EDITORS NOTE: At this point Beef’s email completely crashed, rendering him unable to continue participation in the roundtable discussion. Left to their own accord, BST and Shaffe forge on.
Shaffe: Thankfully as poorly as those first two matches went for the Tigers things turned around very quickly and in a very big way when Zach Synon took the mat. Squaring against one of the better guys in the country at his weight class Synon went out and showed very well before getting Johnni DiJulius wrapped up and stuck on his back. The Hearnes Center crowd went nuts and the game was on from there. What positives did you see from Synon out there?
BST: Going back and rewatching the match I was really excited to see that Synon was on the offensive for most of that match. He very nearly had DJ on his back early on, but was just out of the circle. Zach has shown a lot more resilience this year in sticking with what is working and keeping at it. Couldn't be happier for the young man.
Ok, Matt Manley had himself a match as well. What did you see from the 141 pounder?
Shaffe: Much the same as we saw from Synon, except for the stick at the end of course. Manley squared off against a slightly lesser opponent but still a quality one and wrestled smart and hard before securing the match with a late takedown. One of the things I’ve been watching this season has been whether Synon and Manley can wrestle well enough to let Brian Smith keep the redshirts on a few talented freshmen around this weight class and I think Saturday night showed that those shirts are going to be staying on all year long for sure. Not only were the results critical to the dual, but they should also be critical for confidence for both of these guys going forward.
BST: I agree. These 2 guys may be the single most important weight classes for this year and the next 4. Keeping redshirt seasons intact but also wrestling at a top 15 national level is huge. Brian Smith has done an outstanding job so far this season.
Manley with that late TD I think may be even more of a turning point for the dual than Synon's pin. If we come off the pin, which was huge, and then drop the next match you lose a lot of that momentum and fan excitement. Manley snagging the big late TD and keeping the winning going just built everyone up, both on and off the mat.
At 149 Lavion Mayes faced off against an unranked Cody Burcher of Ohio State and got some extra team points in a 12-3 MD. I missed this match, so what did you see?
Shaffe: Any time you put a 12-3 scoreline you’ve done some things right. Mayes showed his usual double leg takedown several times and he also continued to show some riding game that he’s slowly adding to his arsenal. Mayes also got Burcher tilted and picked up some nice points there in his match. All in all a very workmanlike effort from one of the big guns in the lineup, and very nice to see Mayes do what we expect to see out of him.
Any thoughts about Luke Fortuna at 157 before we move on to Daniel Lewis?
BST: Not really. I only caught the second half of the Lewis match. I was of course very encouraged by how close Lewis kept the match. Jordan is currently ranked 2nd at 165 but also bounces up to 174. His only 2 losses on the year are medical forfeits, so he’s basically undefeated. What did I miss in the first 2 periods?
Shaffe: Jordan got a fairly early takedown but Lewis got out once an opportunity presented itself. Later in the period there was an interesting moment where Jordan was hanging on Lewis’ back and Daniel dropped him after a whistle, but otherwise the period was about what you would expect. What was super interesting though was with the choice in the second period Daniel Lewis chose top and rode the #2 ranked guy in the land for the entire 2 minute period. It was a hell of a ride by him and Jordan didn’t really do too much to try and get out before getting hit for a couple of stalling calls. If you haven’t you really should go back and watch that second period. The stalling seemed to continue well into the third period where Lewis nearly pulled a Manley and got a late takedown to tie the match.
In the end though Jordan got two takedowns and Lewis never was able to take Jordan down, so the end result was a fair one but still a very positive one for the freshman.
BST: I did see the 3rd period and got the update about the stalling calls. Jordan did not look like he intended in any way to try and do anything to go out and win that match (hmmm, haven't we seen that before from tOSU wrestlers in big matches?). I like how Lewis stayed aggressive, didn't get flustered, and kept going after Jordan. Solid match against a guy that Lewis could very likely see again at the NCAAs.
On to 174 where Blaise Butler continues to look very solid since his slight upset recently. What did you see out of Butler against the unranked Prezzia?
Shaffe: There was word before the dual that Ohio State was considering pulling the redshirt of Myles Martin, but Tom Ryan elected to keep the redshirt on his freshman and send out Dominic Prezzia. Blaise Butler wrestled extremely well against his overmatched opponent picking up takedowns with ease and riding Prezzia at will before eventually winning the matchup by way of a major decision. This tied the dual up at 17 going into the last two matches, which is exactly what Mizzou would have hoped for coming into the evening. Butler had one of the more impressive performances of the meet; that is until Willie Miklus stepped up against returning NCAA All-American Dominic Courts.
BST: Willie Miklus tech falled a returning All-American. The score was 15-0. Courts is 10-4 this season with 1 loss to #3 Abounader and a weird early loss in which he may have been injured. 2 losses however were to Miklus by scores of 13-5 and 15-0. Willie is feeling it this year and he is a sight to behold. Dude dominated this match from start to finish and was as pumped as I've ever seen him afterwards.
Anything in particular you saw that you'd like to comment on, or is Willie maybe just the most fun guy to watch in this lineup right now?
Shaffe: I do love me some Willie.
So with a 5 point lead in the dual things were all but wrapped up for the Tigers when J’Den Cox stepped up for his match against Mark Martin. All Cox had to do was not get pinned and the Tigers would win their 31st consecutive dual meet and J’Den did not disappoint. Not only did he avoid getting pinned, he finished the night off with an exclamation point of his own by earning a major decision for a final team score of 26-17. If Kyle Snyder wasn’t taking his Olympic redshirt this would have been one dandy of a finisher, but we’ll just have to wait a while longer for that rematch. I don’t know about you but I was a little surprised to see Mizzou win this meet as easily as they did in the end, especially after being down 9-0. Have we underestimated this team?
BST: I was fully flummoxed. I did not pick Synon or Manley to win their matches. For them to come out and pick up NINE team points between the two of them was massive. I think we may have underestimated this crew. There are still holes at 157 & HWT that we'd like to see more out of, but you can't be upset with where they are right now at all.
Shaffe: After seeing them win rather handily against the defending tournament champs I’m ready to say that I’ve underestimated this team a fair bit. I’m still not sure they’ll make it out of the dual season unscathed again with another round of National Duals and big matches against Cornell and Virginia Tech still to come – but I’m upgrading my assessment of the team to "won’t be surprised if they pull it off". I also think if things break really well at the NCAA tournament in March we could possibly be looking at another top 5 team finish which would be absolutely outstanding.