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Mizzou's Greatest, #87: 2015 Wrestling

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With a flawless duals record, a National Duals title, Drake Houdashelt's national title, and a fourth-place NCAA finish, Mizzou's 2015 wrestling season was its best ever.

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The Beef: Alright BST, while we wait for the unveiling of the #1 Mizzou athlete of all time, and with Bill going back over the Mizzou Top 100 and asking if there needed to be any updates, it got me thinking about what we just saw this past year with the 2014-2015 Mizzou wrestling squad.  A #4 national finish, another conference title (fourth straight) and a perfect dual meet record and #1 national ranking. Before we get to where we think this team would fit on this list, talk about the things that will stand out to you the most about the season that was.

COMMENCE GUSHING!!

BST: Oh boy! I love gushing about wrestling and the Fighting Smiths!

What stands out to me about this past season, lets see...... you listed off a few: Undefeated dual record, regular season conference title, National Duals title, 2nd place finish at the scuffle, Conference tournament destruction, qualified all 10 guys to the NCAAs, 5 All Americans.

This brings us to Drake freaking Houdashelt. Drake is a #MizzouMade guy. From STL, wrestled varsity for Mizzou all 4 years. Conference champ all 4 years. All American Sophomore and Junior year. National Champ! Drake finished the year 37-1, was named the MAC outstanding wrestler for the year and dominated his NCAA tourney opponents with a combined score of 29-3.

This season was awesome. From start to finish. Upper classmen set the stage for the very talented group of youngsters and wrestled their butts off. Guys like Alan Waters finished off their Mizzou careers with another AA campaign, and a Mikey England damn near shocked the world, working his way to the knock out round and picking up huge team points along the way.

Ok, does any of that make sense?

The Beef: Beyond the placement of the team in the top 100, I think Drake does merit some consideration. We don’t have Mark Ellis or Max Askren in there (nor J’Den Cox, though the book is still open on him obviously), but Drake outpoints both Mark and Max to me because of the four conference titles. Last year was a disappointment for sure, making this season’s finish all the sweeter.

And you are certainly right about the future. As you, shaffe and I will get into in the coming months, Mizzou not only will be bringing back an exciting amount of high-level experience, but Coach Smith was able to welcome a couple of transfers who may have an immediate impact on the squad. Couple that with a high-level recruiting class, and the future is bright. 2016 may certainly be a solid year, but 2017 could see us spike again. That would be another step for this program, to have the spikes be closer together. We spiked in ’07, but then fell off a bit before having some other good finishes mixed in with decent finishes. But it was eight seasons between ’07 and ’15.

Speaking of, the comparison between this team and the ’07 team is really interesting. This one had the perfect dual record, but the other one won the Southern Scuffle and also had seven wins against top 25 teams. This one was 4th nationally, the other 3rd (though this one I believe would have been third if not for the head-butt call). This one wins the MAC, the other is 2nd in the Big XII. Both had national champs. Lots of parallels and interesting comparison points. Care to knock that one around before we get to where we think 2015 fits (or doesn’t fit) in this list?

BST: There are a lot of parallels to be sure. That 07 team is a lot like the 07 football team. They really opened the door. The amount of talent on that team was crazy, obviously. But they showed that Mizzou could be a perennial top 10 team that could/should challenge for a top 3 spot every few years. I think this years team is more loaded top to bottom and could have 8-9 All Americans that spent time on the mat at one point or another, which is silly.

In the long run, the 07 team was better in the end, won the matches it needed to, and didn't mess up at the worst possible moment (head butt, and his tournament overall). What say you?

The Beef: I don’t know. If you had asked me right in the wake of the NCAA Tourney back in March, I might have said the ’07 team (as I think I was leaning towards during the season as well). But time maybe has softened me a bit. This team was better because it was deeper, as the dual meet record will prove. The ’07 team did not qualify all participants to the NCAA’s, and while it lost to #1 MN (and had some injuries to work around if I recall correctly), it also lost a real head scratcher to ISU late in the season.  This team defeated #1 Iowa in a dual (in Des Moines no less) and also went into Columbus and beat the eventual National Champs as well in a dual. All of that, plus the parallel of a national champ and assorted AA’s (plus the dominant conference title) I think pushes the ’15 squad ahead of the ’07 in my mind.

So, with that out of the way, where would you potentially see the ’15 team falling in this list? Are they better than the 2011-2012 basketball team (which was pretty dominant in the regular season, won a conference championship and then scuffled at the national tourney in a slightly (but nearly as much) fashion? That squad was #90 on the list, and I think serves as a decent benchmark for comparison. Is the 2014-2015 Wrestling team better or worse than that?

BST: I think that is a good comparison as well. The sports are so wildly different that I think have a national champ and 4 other all americans would have to put the wrestling squad ahead of the bball team. If Denmon or English had been an all american and/or wooden award finalist, then they'd have the edge to me. The wrestling team was better at the top that the basketball team, and as such should be in the 85 range.

The Beef: 1964 Baseball comes in at #86. They led the country in ERA (and set a record which still stands in doing so), went unbeaten in the Big Eight and went to the final game of the CWS. That seems pretty darn close to the wrestling squad. I say we slot wrestling in at #87.