The Beef - The Tigers ended up with a reasonably expected result on Sunday afternoon, taking down Kent State 35-12. However, how the score came to be is a little strange based on how we thought the dual might go. Heck, before the Tigers would even step on the mat, they found themselves down 6-0 after Barlow McGhee gave a forfeit up at 125 to get things started. Skipping over that, let's start with really what was the most entertaining and closely contested match of the day with Synon and Mcquire at 133.
BST - Looks like the playback is down on the Ken St. site so I can't watch any of this dual. I'll go off what i saw on the twitterz and mutigers.com recap. Tough to see Synon lose this match, but also glad to see that he battled through out. Down early and staying active, looking to score points and put a guy on his back. This is exactly the kind of match and opponent he'll have to beat in March if he wants to make it to the AA round. While the result wasn't exactly what you'd like to see, I am encouraged with the fight shown.
As and aside, did you see Dom Bradley took the HWT title at the national trials over the weekend? Marable finished 3rd.
Shaffe - With Ian Miller not taking the mat at 157, Synon/McGuire 133 was easily the premier matchup for this dual. This was a winnable match for Synon but also not surprising to see McGuire pull it out either. I, too, didn't get a chance to catch a whole lot of action in the moment but catching up after the fact I also see plenty for Synon to build on going forward. I believe he had it tied up before giving up the last takedown to a fellow top 15 wrestler. In the big picture it looks like the MAC won't be a single bid conference at this weight so there is a lot more wiggle room for Zach to continue grinding and improving as the calendar turns to 2016.
The Beef - I actually had the chance to watch the entire dual (though without any sound or graphics) and the Synon/McGuire match was solid and felt like a Round of 16-type of match. McGuire got out early and though Synon had a nice ride in the second, McGuire found himself ahead. However, Synon turned it on in the third and started bringing the action to McGuire, getting it back to being tied after a takedown. I don’t know how R/T looked at that moment, but Synon certainly had the momentum at that moment when he cut McGuire and make the match 6-5. To McGuire’s credit, he turned right around and got the shot in on Synon and scored the late TD to clinch the match and certainly give Kent State some solid momentum, leading then 9-0. The Tigers would do well to get some of that momentum back over the next two matches, as Manley scored a solid major before Mayes won a tough-fought match to get the Tigers back to within two team points. For Mayes, his double wasn’t really working too well, but I was impressed by his ability to get points and takedowns off of secondary shots and defensive moves. He also had a decent ride as well, so some other elements to his game were on display. Any thoughts from you guys before moving on to 157 and beyond?
Shaffe - When I saw the forfeit at 125 due to Barlow McGhee not making weight and then Synon dropping the tossup at 133 I was a tiny bit concerned about the team standing. 9-0 is never where you want to be but just like the weekend prior against Ohio State the third man up, this time Matt Manley, went out and turned the tide back in the favor of the Tigers. It was really nice to see Manley show well against a guy that he should take down if he hopes to pick up a few team points at the NCAA tournament in March. Without having visually seen much out of Lavion Mayes this year I wonder if guys are really preparing to defend that deadly double move of his? This could be a good reason why we haven't seen him dominate on the scoreboard quite like we were hoping on the year, though his unblemished record leaves little room for major concern.
Quick aside: have you guys seen the 149 Intermat rankings? 10 of the top 13 is either MAC or Big Ten. Mayes is going to be pretty damn tested by the end of the season if Mizzou advances far at national duels
The Beef - Actually, I had forgotten DePalma of Kent State was ranked as highly as he was, so the win takes on even that much more value.
Alright….so…Blake Pepper instead of Luke Fortuna instead of Matt Lemanowicz instead of Joey Lavallee. I guess the revolving door had another turn in it, and may still yet because LeRoy Barnes had a solid weekend out at Reno wrestling at 157. You two ready to just throw your hands up in the air at this point with this weight class? I’d have used that emoticon thing where the person is shrugging, but I don’t know how to do it.
BST – I don’t really have anything to add here
The Beef - Alright, so everyone is taking a pass at 157, clearly saving up for the good stuff that came from 165-HWY.
Shaffe - Ok let’s see what happened at 165. Oh, another Daniel Lewis first period pin? Ho hum. Oh, Willie Miklus pinned a guy again? Yawn. J’Den Cox picked up a fall himself? Good to see him stay aggressive.
JAMES ROMERO pinned a guy? Hot damn that was nice to see. I was a tiny bit concerned about the final result of the dual after Kent State jumped out 12-7 but 4 pins and a major decision in the last 5 matches put those concerns to rest almost immediately. I love seeing Romero continue to build despite his early season struggles and hope that we continue getting noteworthy results from him after the break.
BST - DANIEL EFFING LEWIS. Let me tell you guys, this kid could be pretty alright. I'm not sure if you've heard me say that before.... oh wait. You have? Ok then. Mizzou can go into just about any dual with any team in the country and be down double digits going into 165lbs and really not be all that concerned. These guys are just freaking manimals, going out there and mauling their opponents.
Each one of them appears to have a pretty good sized chip on their shoulders and I LIKE IT.
The Beef - Yeah, it is pretty interesting what has come out from reports stemming from J’Den’s incident with Phil Wellington a couple of weeks ago about how he is wrestling far more aggressively than before. Obviously, that’s not been a problem for someone like Miklus (and clearly for someone like Lewis), but I think the team could feed off of J’Den’s attitude and perhaps this dual was a bit of a reflection of that.
So, without any action until after the new year (Buffalo and then Cornell on the second weekend of January), how about we take a quick step back and sum up how the first "half" (though truly not half) of the season went for the Tigers and where your surprises (both good and bad) exist.
Shaffe - I think by far the biggest surprise of the season so far is whatever is going on at 157. Coming into the year we all penciled Joey Lavallee into that spot as a potential All-American and he has yet to take the mat for the Tigers. All we can do is speculate as to what that’s been the case, but I’m encouraged that Joey is finally starting to wrestle some open tournaments leading credence to the rumor that he was anticipating wrestling at 149 this year and is slowly building his weight back on.
Positive surprise for me has been Daniel Lewis somehow living up to BST’s ultra-hyped expectations. This kid has been nails so far this year and it’s so exciting to know he’s barely 1/8 of the way through his college career.
Negative surprise for me has been the relative "disappointment" of Lavion Mayes. Coming into the year I figured he would be absolutely dominating guys left and right and he has struggled to pick up the big points on the scoreboard. You can’t be all that negative on a guy who’s undefeated in the year, but style points count in wrestling and Mayes is a guy who I’d like to see a bit more consistent in picking up big wins during the second semester.
The Beef - I am certainly in line with your first two mentions. For Lavallee, I feel like we just won’t see him this year and Coach Smith is going to redshirt him. But, in wrestling more than other sports, you do see instances where people come back at strange times, and then make an impact. Case in point was last year with Devin Mellon. Certainly a little different, as you had a final-year senior and academic eligibility issues, but Mellon obviously made an impact on the team in the second half. In this case here, and while I believe I’ve read the intention now is to sit Lavallee, perhaps the year will continue to trend positively at many of the other weights and Coach Smith will make the decision that a wrestler of Lavallee’s caliber may make the difference between a top-10 and top-5 finish at the NCAA’s. Certainly remains to be seen.
As for Lewis, it is hard not to be excited about the ceiling of this young man. With potential matches still against #1 Alex Dieringer of Okie State, #5 Max Rohskopf of NC State, #13 Clark Glass of OU, and #14 Duke Pickett of Cornell (plus whatever comes from the National Duals), there are a lot of chances to continue to stake his claim to potential AA status.
With Mayes, I certainly see your point, but am willing to concede a couple of things about that. Number one, he is dealing with some bigger folks this season, so I think there is an adjustment period to that. At the same time, I think the book is out on him and his preferred offense (double leg) and I think you are actually seeing some growth by Mayes in that he has been able to overcome when people have taken that away to still find ways to score. Perfect case in point was the DePalma match last week. Mayes was not able to connect on the initial shot, but was able to score on both the secondary shots, as well as via his defense. Against a top-16 senior, that is an encouraging outcome in my eyes.
BST - I agree with all things said above. Lewis is the man. 157 has been up in the air and Mayes has been slightly disappointing but not to any level where I'm concerned.
I think the biggest surprise for me is just how good this team is as a whole. We have quite a few brand new guys on the squad, including 2 "starters" that weren't on the team at all last year, but they don't seem to have missed a beat. This looks and feels like a top 10 squad that could challenge at multiple weight classes and no one wants to meet up against at the Duals. I couldn't be more excited about the "2nd half".
Shaffe - I think even though Mizzou is taking a pass on the New Year’s Day tournaments this year there are going to be some exciting times ahead for the Fightin’ Smiths. In the immortal words of Bart Scott – can’t wait!