I realize you are going to want to talk Iowa and the ramifications of the win from Sunday, but let’s start at the beginning. Take us through the Illinois dual and what you loved seeing there. Go ahead and put in your disappointments as well, since I imagine it is going to be tough to keep you from talking about Iowa.
HOLY CRAP WHAT A WEEKEND. I was able to watch wrestling, on my phone, in the target parking lot on Sunday while the wife did something for an hour inside. We are living in the future and it is one where Mizzou has just won a national championship.
Ok, I won't ahead of myself or jump to Iowa. The first opponent Mizzou had to dispatch on Saturday was #11 ranked Illinois and right off the bat, BOOM, we got the big match-up we were hoping for #1/2 Waters vs #1/2 Delgado. Delgado is the 2X returning NCAA champ who has been hobbled most oft he year by injury but he still held a few polls top spots. We talked a bit about how this match might go last week if the two did indeed get to meet and I have to say, it went exactly as I had hoped. Waters came out guns blazing and went right at Delgado. The 6-2 win had to have the rest of the team fired up and ready to go because they didn't slip up much after 125lbs.
Aside from Waters I was very happy to see Lavion Mayes pick up yet another top 15 win (seriously, that dude has been through a meat grinder this season) and good lord Johnny Eblen. Dude just went out and pinned the #10 ranked wrestler in the country in under a minute. Thats some serious heat. J'Den did J'Den stuff and picked up a 12 point major decision. Mikey England, that kid is just flat out tough. He had a seriously tough weekend ahead of him no matter who Mizzou ended up facing as a team and he fought his butt off the entire time. I really think this team got significantly better when he slid into the 165lb slot and had just grinded hard for the last 2 months.
There were a few small disappointment if I were to nitpick. Miklus getting beat by an unranked Reyes in SV is disappointing, but it just shows how inconsistent Willie has been this season and he keeps making freshmen mistakes, especially late in matches. Lavallee also got whooped on pretty good by #2 Martinez 17-6, which just isn't the kind of points you can give up in the MAC or NCAA tournament.
Here is the full breakdown of each match:
Missouri 23, Illinois 13
125: No. 2 Alan Waters (Missouri) dec. No. 1 Jesse Delgado (Illinois), 6-2
133: No. 8 Zane Richards (Illinois) dec. Zach Synon (Missouri), 9-2
141: No. 5 Lavion Mayes (Missouri) maj. dec. No. 12 Steven Rodrigues (Illinois), 11-3
149: No. 4 Drake Houdashelt (Missouri) dec. Kyle Langenderfer (Illinois), 6-3
157: No. 2 Isaiah Martinez (Illinois) maj. dec. No. 12 Joey LaVallee (Missouri), 17-6
165: No. 8 Jackson Morse (Illinois) dec. Mike England (Missouri), 4-3
174: No. 5 John Eblen (Missouri) pinned No. 10 Zach Brunson (Illinois), 0:50
184: Nikko Reyes (Illinois) dec. No. 14 Willie Miklus (Missouri), 3-1 SV
197: No. 1 J'den Cox (Missouri) maj. dec. Jeffrey Koepke (Illinois), 15-3
285: No. 16 Devin Mellon (Missouri) dec. Brooks Black (Illinois), 5-1 TB
Over all, good solid victory over a good Big10 team that has a couple national title contenders on it.
What do you have to add and btw, HOW BOUT THEM MIGHTY MOUNTAIN HAWKS OF LEHIGH?
Not much to add from me on the Illinois side of things. You already know that I was not surprised to see the outcome of the Waters/Delgado match-up. We will talk more about his weekend and its national ramifications when we get to Iowa. Mayes was REALLY impressive and you can see the confidence in his offense really starting to build. Solid effort by England, and yes, Eblen’s match all but clinched it. That is the type of result (especially in a NCAA quarterfinal-worthy match) that helps win you NCAA’s (with the bonus points at that late stage). The Miklus and LaVallee results were what they were, but those two would redeem themselves for the weekend later.
Oh Lehigh…screwing the Big 10 (along with Cornell) out of participants. Hell of an effort by the Mountain Hawks in the quarters to take down Ohio State. Talk to me about the semi-finals.
I love nothing more than seeing a school from a league that doesn't even allow athletic scholarships take down a B1G "powerhouse".
Lehigh is a solid team and program. They consistently perform well and they deserve huge props for taking down tOSU. The Mountain Hawks only bring 5 ranked wrestlers but they have a few who are legit title/AA contenders.
Mizzou wont the dual 23-9 dropping only 3 decisions: Synon vs #12 Beckman, Lavallee vs #17 Minotti, and Miklus vs #3 Brown. Mayes and Houdashelt each picked up an MD and the rest of the guys just got he win. This wasn't a flashy dual by any means and our guys just did work and got it done.
Anything to add about our match up vs your dads Alma mater?
Synon had a tough weekend with three ranked opponents, but he did a nice of controlling the decision. For LaVallee, he just could not get his offense running. I was encouraged to see his energy level stay high through the match, because I’ve seen him gas out in matches when he has been losing. For Miklus, Brown was a tough draw, but he was in it until the end (the final score is not real indicative of how close that was with the late takedown). I will say I was a little concerned about the energy level we displayed in that dual, but the team just ground it out and I guess kept some for the tank. It was also the 2nd dual of the day, so you can only be so fresh.
Alright, let’s bust open the dam…talk to me about Iowa
FREAKING IOWA, man. Iowa was the consensus #1. They were undefeated as a team. They had wrestler ranked at every weight except for 1. They were the B1G regular season champs which pretty much assures you that all of the wrestling media will crown you the world champs in short order.
We briefly discussed what it would take to beat Iowa if we in fact faced them in the finals last week. This is what we said:
Yowza, we hope to take 125, 141, 157, 197. The possible toss ups are 149, 174, 184. EVERYTHING would have to go right for us to pull that dual out. Any other way around it?
You could not give up any majors and you’d have to look for Eblen to beat Evans and Drake to beat Sorenson. Could be done…would be tough"
And.... what did Mizzou do? Well, they won decisions as 125, 141, 149, 157, 184 & 197. Waters , Houdashelt, Miklus, & Cox each won their match by 1 point. Mayes & Lavallee put in serious work and stayed on the offensive the entire time. These 6 knocked off the #5, #6, #2, #15, & #6 ranked wrestlers in the country. Thats not too bad.
They had to do more than just win close matches, they couldn't give up major decisions or falls either. They had to keep their losses close and damn if they didn't do one hell of a job there as well. Synon kept his match against #6 Clark within 5 points, Mikey England flat wrestled his butt off and dropped a 3-2 decision to #9 Moore, Eblen fell just 4-1 to #3 Evans and Mellon looked maybe the best he has all season in a 6-3 loss to #5 (and 2 time AA) Telford. These 4 were just as big of a reason that Mizzou won as the 6 that beat their opponents.
I thought for a while this morning about if there was a disappointment from this dual and even at my nit-pickiest I can't come up with anything. Every guy up and down the line up stayed aggressive, didn't get gassed, rode harder than I've seen them ride all year, and looked like the up and down better team. Iowa fans were shut down early and never really given a reason to get back into this match and try to push it in their favor like they have so many times in the past. This was a beautiful dual to watch from the Mizzou side and I couldn't be happier for Smith and his crew.
Ok Beef, is that too glass overflowing full?
I don’t really think so, given the nature of the win. Would have liked to have seen Waters be a LITTLE more classy out there on the mat, but it is what it is and you cannot always back down in a situation like that, though I could have done without the body check to the Iowa kid running off the mat to the locker room.
Synon wrestled strong and though he went 0-3, he was a big part of us going 3-0. But he now has his work cut out for him at the MAC’s because I am afraid the losses may knock him down on the RPI.
Lavion Mayes…MY GOODNESS. I had previously been leery of thinking of him as a really serious AA contender, but I think he is there now. His offense is looking tremendous, and that double was damn near perfect. He still needs some work when in the top position, but that is what the off-season could be about. The strength will need to come up too, especially if Will Roark’s comments about starting at 141 are true (as it could be a potential push of Mayes up to 149 unless they love Barnes there). Anyway, a stronger ride gives him the major, but other than that, what a great weekend for him. I am now really excited about him going against Horan at the MAC’s and hopefully exorcising that demon before NCAA’s.
I had felt Sorenson was a little over ranked, but when you beat the #1 in the nation as he did, there are only so many places to get ranked appropriately. Drake certainly used his experience as a senior to understand where he was on the mat, how he could build his ride and how to work the clock. Just such a smart match.
LaValle…way to bounce back in a tremendous spot. The rankings would say we should have won that match, but for him to come in there off an 0-2 start to his weekend was all the more impressive in my eyes.
Oh Mikey England…you are sooooo close. Had a beautiful double attempt towards the middle of the match and just did not come through strong enough to finish it. I think he has the offense to win a few matches at 165, just has to put it all together.
I am disappointed for Eblen because he had a great chance to crack the top 4 at 174 and it just did not happen for him. Evans is maddening (for me anyway) to watch and I thought Johnny could bring the game to him and get the win. Solid effort and he certainly is still very much in the hunt for an AA.
So yes, Willie benefited from not getting Brooks here, and he also came out on the right end of the call in the 3rd period with the takedown (I agreed with the BTN guys that the ref missed the right time to call it and it could have gone the other way because of when they were reviewing it). But to wrestle in your home state in that building with this dual on the line and to come out on top is pretty big for anyone, especially a RS frosh.
For Cox…the win is good…but I really want to see him be more aggressive. No question is top game is strong and defense is even stronger. But once he got that first stalling call (for hanging on too long for the release), I thought he needed to do more. His mat positioning was great, but that is a dangerous game, and it damn near bit him. I want to see him putting those matches away, but this one yesterday smacked almost a little too much of the finals from last year, where one or two more seconds would have meant a different champ.
As for Mellon…he looked strong against Telford…but that man is a beast who had only wrestled just under 3 minutes the day before to Mellon’s 12. He was fresh and huge (tee hee hee)…tough draw there for Devin.
So then…what’s next?
Good lord, whats next? I hope the guys got a chance to celebrate on the ride home yesterday and maybe a day off to recoup after a tough 3 dual weekend.
They have a 2 week break until the MACs are at the Hearnes on March 7th - 8th. I am very interested to see how the new rankings/rpi shakes out and what the MAC allotments look like going into that weekend. We are the clear front runner to take the MAC tourny title but the big thing is getting as many of our guys through to the NCAAs as possible.
Let’s keep the reading public wanting more and get this out so shaffe can add his thoughts and kristina can ask her questions. Happy Birthday kristina!