Wrestling championships begin today
Cox (33-0) is one of three Tigers to secure No. 1 seeds for this weekend, joining seniors Alan Waters (30-0) at 125 and Fort Zumwalt West grad Drake Houdashelt (32-1) at 149. Waters took fourth in 2013 while Houdashelt placed sixth in 2013 and fifth a year ago.
Other seeded wrestlers for the Tigers are sophomore and Mascoutah High grad Lavion Mayes (33-2), who’s third at 141; senior Johnny Eblen (26-5), who’s No. 4 at 174; sophomore Joey Lavallee (22-11), who’s ninth at 157; and senior heavyweight Devin Mellon (30-9), who is a No. 11 seed.
"We look at the matchups because we need to try and help our guys prepare, but we don’t worry too much about seeds or draws,’’ Smith said. "People talk about good draws or bad draws, but all that matters is how you wrestle over the next few days. I’ve had unseeded guys do very well in this tournament and I’ve had top-seeded guys struggle. It’s all about keeping your guys focused and making sure they’re ready to wrestle on Thursday morning.’’
Missouri's ultimate success at the NCAAs will be due to its depth. The Tigers have qualified a wrestler for the meet in all ten weight classes. Each result--each point, even--is critical to a potential national team title. None of Missouri's wrestlers or its coach will single out any one match as more important than any other. For Cox, the only matches he isn't worried about are his own.
"I can't watch matches, though. I get really hyped up. That's probably the most hyped you'll see me when other people wrestle on the team," he said. "I get like, 'Oh, no, let's do this.' For mine, I'm just like, 'It doesn't matter, let's go.' I think it's because I'm in control. I'm like, come on, I want you to win so bad. You can't be out there with them, but you want them to win so bad. When it's yourself, you're in the driver's seat of your own body, you're out there on the mat."
Hyped up, excitable, nervous, energized. These aren't words anyone around Mizzou's program uses to describe its most recognizable star.
"J'Den doesn't even look at the brackets. He doesn't even know who he wrestles and we won't tell him," Smith said. "I remember last year he was like, 'I thought I was wrestling a guy from' and he named off a different school and he was wrestling the Illinois kid in the first round. Before his quarterfinal round, I had to wake him up."
On speeding up the south end zone project:
"What happened, this was talked about last year. It was publicly discussed. Deliberately, the department held back on taking that a step further by programming development to wait for Mack to get here. Mack has gone through this a bit before, you see. He’s built two stadiums already. He’s done some things. He was very involved at Houston dealing with basketball there, in terms of their facility needs as well. He has a great deal of experience with development, and he’s raised lots of money where he’s been before as well. I’ve talked to Pinkel directly about this. Coach Pinkel is very interested in having a facility that will support his training needs. I work out at the" Mizzou Athletics Training Complex "myself. I leave at 6 a.m., when the floods come in. It’s a nice facility, but it is really oversubscribed right now. The board out there for scheduling is pretty dense. Getting each athlete the ability to get in there and do their training is complicated right now. What he sees is a need for a dedicated facility for his team, and I got that. What he wants to be able to do is welcome new recruits here in ways that give them a sense this is an extraordinary place to be, a great program to be in. The MATC’s good for that. But when you compare it to other venues around the SEC if you’ve been there -- I have -- it’s a little bit different. We can do better."
On wireless internet at Faurot Field:
"I would love to have that, but there is a certain issue there. You’re talking about six times a year What resource do you want to put in there? There are some solutions. I’ve seen some other stadiums bring in temporary antennae and switches to enhance temporarily as opposed to building permanent infrastructure. At Texas A&M, as I was leaving there, the design was to build a new stadium, which is a little more practical when you do a major rebuild as opposed to adding on to one you’ve already got. We have to think that thing through. What’s the right way for us to enhance the WiFi to get what you want on your handheld? On the bandwidth, you’re competing with 70,000 people. That’s a challenge for us right now. Technology is out there, but we have to really figure out how we can enhance that, at least for those times per year when we’re here to be able to make that possible."
Mizzou in the WNIT: tonight at 7pm CT
Losing to Falcons and weather
It's Championship season
Swimming & Diving
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