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Mizzou Wrestling: Friday Night Live

BST, Shaffe and I take a look back at what went down last weekend for the Tigers and look ahead to a big, MAC weekend of action

The Tigers have two MAC duals this weekend as they look to keep their streak alive
The Tigers have two MAC duals this weekend as they look to keep their streak alive
The Beef

Saturday Update:

University of Missouri Athletics - No. 4 @MizzouWrestling Defeats Eastern Michigan, 24-10

Next up for the Tigers was junior 197-pounder J'den Cox (Columbia, Mo.). In the only ranked matchup on the night, Cox squared up against No. 14 Anthony Abro. Cox used three takedowns in the first period to establish a lead, and never looked back on his way to a 10-5 victory by decision. The win gave Cox a 17-1 record this season and 7-1 in duals.

Erneste makes the most of pinch-hit opportunity in MU wrestling team's victory - Columbia Daily Tribune

Missouri (8-0, 5-0 MAC) won its 36th consecutive dual, a streak dating back nearly two years. Smith said his team looked "kind of flat," but Erneste’s performance was one of the bouts that pleased him.

University of Missouri Athletics - No. 14 @MizzouGym Tallies 196.050 at No. 6 Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 14 Mizzou gymnastics team scored a season best 196.050 in a 197.175-196.050 loss at No. 6 Alabama Friday night at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Freshman Britney Ward (Ozark, Mo.) won both the vault and beam titles with career high scores, while freshman Morgan Porter (Overland, Mo.) took home the all-around crown.

Ward notched event-winning scores of 9.925 on vault and 9.900 on beam to claim top honors on both apparatus' for the third and fourth event titles of her brief Tiger career. Porter totaled a 39.200 in the all-around, highlighted by a 9.850 on bars and a 9.825 on floor, to take the win.

University of Missouri Athletics - #24 @MizzouWBB Plays at Arkansas Sunday Afternoon

• The Tigers are ranked No. 24 in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 poll, marking four consecutive weeks that Mizzou has been ranked nationally. When the Tigers broke into the AP poll four weeks ago, it marked the first national ranking for Mizzou since Jan. 9, 2006, when the Tigers were ranked No. 24 for a week.

University of Missouri Athletics - Candace Johnson Selected by Chicago Red Stars in NWSL College Draft

The Beef - Alright gents, I imagine we have QUITE a  bit to talk about in reviewing the weekend that was.  Before we get to Sunday’s action, anyone with anything on Buffalo?  Surprised at the comments of Brian Smith after the dual?  Surprised Lavion Mayes had such a tight match?

BST - I haven't seen the comments. What were they?

Shaffe - I think Beef is making things up again.

The Beef - What…I gotta wipe your asses too?

There was also a comment from the weekend that Lavion Mayes was complaining that Cole Baumgartner being in the lineup screwed up his warm-up, and Brian Smith was not real pleased about the nature of the comment either, basically telling to get over it.

BST - Interesting. Kinda reminds me of how animated he was after the first day of the MAC's this past year. They were in clear control then, but he was still fired up about how guys were working, and not putting in max effort.

Shaffe - I can’t say I disagree with Coach Smith regarding the Buffalo dual. We saw Mayes give up way too much to his opponent and several matches far closer than they should have been. However, the funny thing about wrestling teams is that even though the sport is such an individual sport there are teamwide peaks and valleys throughout the season. I think this past weekend there was either rust from the long layoff or just one of those natural valleys you see throughout a year. The whole point of any sport is to peak at the right time and in order to be at your best in late February and March you sometimes sacrifice your top end performance a few times a year.

The Beef - I will say I was not impressed by a few folks, Barlow McGhee to start.  Yes, he got caught in a four point (two takedown, two back) move early, but it was early.  If you are wrestling someone as relatively unknown as the Cornell opponent and you are #8 in the country, like Mayes the match before against his Buffalo counterpart, you should have time to come back from a mistake.  But McGhee showed very little in terms of aggression or urgency through the rest of the first and second period, and it was only REALLY late in the third where he started to get on his horse.  By then, it was too little, too late.

BST - Pretty much all the notes I had on that match as well. McGhee looked seriously frustrated with Macri being down on 1 knee a lot and couldn't figure out how to shoot or generate offense against it.

Shaffe - Barlow’s match against Macri is a reason why I’ve always had a hard time seeing McGhee as much more than a Round of 12 guy this year. As Beef noted, it sucked that he gave up the 4 point move but it happened very early in the first period and for whatever reason Barlow never really got on his horse to take that match back. His style is pretty passive in general so I imagine if he ever runs into a big deficit again he’ll subsequently have a hard time making it up.

At 133 though, Synon did an excellent job limiting damage to one of the most dominant wrestlers in the country. Garrett looked a little visibly frustrated at the end that he couldn’t pick up the major decision thanks to Synon wrestling tough. What should have been 3-3 at worst was thankfully only 6-0 after two bouts and as we saw in the final result each team point was precious.

The Beef - I agree that Synon fighting through all seven minutes and staving off the major at the end was one of the big moments of the dual.  And man alive…Garrett is a machine out there.

BST, what did you see from Manley at 141?  Did he pick his game up a bit from his off performance against Buffalo?

BST - I did see some seriously good stuff from young Matt. There was a point mid 1st that his opponent darn near had him flipped on an arm throw, Manley scrambled around to the side, got his position back, stayed on the offensive and was able to collect the 2 points for a take down. Manley was a beast on top throughout the match as well, he rode out most of the 2nd half of the 1st and pretty much all the 2nd. Also, dude used a spladle to collect back points. Never have I seen one used, and certainly not as effective as Manley did, getting the backpoints on it.

All around, good match from both wrestlers, not a lot of stalling. Matt stayed on the offensive, and picked up some needed team points after we were down 6-0 early as a team.

The Beef - I agree about the match Manley had.  I was hoping for a bit more offense from the top (considering how long he was able to hold the position), and that spladle was a little strange (especially because it ended up too high and he only got two back instead of what looked like an automatic four points), but you cannot complain when you dominate someone like that and end up with a major decision, especially when the dual had started 6-0 instead of a 3-3 which we probably expected.

Now to Mayes, who still seemed to struggle a bit getting that double takedown going.  Is the book out on him at this point?  I mean, a win is a win for sure, but the points just don’t seem to be coming.  And yes, I realize how strange that sounds considering he is our lone undefeated wrestler.

Shaffe - I’m not sure if it’s a case of the book being out on Mayes, or if he’s just adapting his game, but we haven’t seen nearly as much double leg takedowns as we saw last year. However as Beef pointed out you can’t argue too much with the results as he’s the only undefeated guy left on the team. I think the whole team found themselves in a funk this past weekend possibly due to the long layoff and it showed with Mayes just as much as anybody else. That’s what I’m going to hope for at least.

Le’Roy Barnes seems to be the latest body at 157 for the Tigers. Bumping up two weight classes is really tough but he just may be the best option for this weight in a non-Lavallee world. I found the 157 pound match, despite the lack of firepower, to be one of the most entertaining of the dual against Cornell. This match going the way of the Big Red is, along with the upset at 125, the biggest reason the final score was so close and what forced Brian Smith into some late dual maneuvering of the lineup – but it also appears we can’t really count on anything from this weight class until next season.

BST - 2 things I noticed in the 157lbs match. First, Palacio was credited with a reversal early on that was called way too quickly IMO. Barnes still had a leg and had the reversal not been given but the ref, he'd have stuck with it longer instead of just giving it up once the points were awarded. Smith and Co. were pretty animated about that. 2nd, Barnes had a TD that went right into a 2pt NF and then almost as fast gave up a reversal right into a 2pt NF. He was too sloppy trying to get the back points and then Palacio basically turned it around on him and got all 4 points right back. Super frustrating to watch.

The Beef - I’ll jump in here on the officiating before we move to 165. I agree that I thought there were some strange calls in the match (and our review of 165 may cover them as well), but I also want to say that I think the IDEA of wrestling at Jesse is fun…and we should not do it again.

The fact that mat exists on a stage too small to comfortably hold it changed the way the officials had to call the match. Boundary calls at the back of the mat near the tinsel backdrop likely cost Lewis some points and calls on the boundary at the front of the mat were too quick because of the eminent danger of the wrestlers spilling into the crowd. The NCAA’s are wrestled on a platform, but with PLENTY of space. The set up in Jesse does not afford that space and seeing it with my own eyes convinced me the coolness of the event is not worth either the danger or the manner in which it slightly changes the officiating.

Shaffe - Yeah there was some awkwardness with the mat on the stage for sure. I also think the stage setup might have not helped much on video replay reviews, of which there were a couple. The one that most comes to mind is the review I think in Lewis’ match where Lewis finished a takedown right on the back edge of the mat that the broadcast didn’t have any sort of angle to make a call on.

In that match I also felt that Pickett didn’t show any intention of pushing the action, which was frustrating to see. I recall watching it live being surprised there weren’t more stall calls made with the new emphasis on stalling this year. Thankfully in the end Lewis came through because he’s a total beast on top, which gives me a ton of confidence if and when he ever heads to OT in his future.

BST - I have in my notes that Pickett is one of those guys that's annoying as hell to watch, if hes not on your team. Hes a gritty, confusing, push the edges of the rules kinda guy. The composure that Lewis showed against him through out the match, never really getting over extended, letting emotions get to him, or really pushing too hard. Dude is wise beyond his years on the mat.

174lbs saw another classic Butler vs Realbuto match. These dudes have faced off a few times before and its always a close match. What did you all see?

The Beef - I saw a match at 174 which showed how close Butler is, but still not quite there. He will be an interesting case for us come NCAA’s. A good draw and a break or two, and I can easily see an All-American finish for him. But if the draw doesn’t help, I could also see a fight from the bottom and his coming up short. He’s wrestled some solid guys so far this year and has some more to go, so it will be interesting to see how the next two months takes shape before the Tigers travel to the NCAA’s in NYC.

So...back to back Miklus’ at 184 and 197. That was pretty strange, especially the first. Hell of a job by Tim to fight off that first period pin

Shaffe - My first thought when Tim Miklus went out against Gabe Dean was that Willie missed weight and Mizzou had lost the dual. Tim really performed admirably wrestling up a weight against arguably the best 184 pounder in the nation, which is rare to say about somebody giving up a technical fall. However avoiding that pin preserved the opening for Cox to chain together 67 takedowns and win the dual at the end, so it’s not without merit. There’s not a whole lot else to evaluate about Tim’s performance as he spent almost all of it on his back and will probably be his only varsity action on the year – but our hat is tipped to you, sir.

Down 7 points in the dual I was a little disappointed in how Willie looked against a fairly run of the mill opponent at 197. Would you guys agree with that assessment or is it just that difficult for most normal guys to bump up a weight class when they’re not preparing to?

The Beef - I’ll be honest, and I think I might have said this last year, but Willie has always struck me as a small 184 pounder, just in that his body is lean and not terribly filled out.  To that end, I’ve wondered from time to time if he might not end up bumping down, so when he went up (in this case), I felt like his just winning at all would be nice.  Where J’Den used a considerable speed advantage over his opponent, Willie doesn’t strike me as someone who is speedy, so that advantage just never materialized.

BST - I will second or third how proud I was of Tim Miklus staying tough. I saw multiple guys tweeting out similar things after the dual was over.

I think you guys covered 197.

On to HWY where J'den put on a TD clinic and then managed to get poked in the eye just as many times as he took down his opponent. Working a HWT like that isn't all that out of the norm for Cox, we saw it last year, but keeping his man down and not giving up the escape late was something to behold. Your thoughts?

Shaffe - I guess we should finish this up sometime today.

It's impressive any time a guy can go out and get as many takedowns as Cox did especially knowing the meet was on the line. Of course Cox is no stranger to wrestling guys a lot bigger than him so at least he was a little prepared for the possibility. We again saw Cox come close to losing his cool a bit though after he got poked in the eye for the third or fourth time, so that might be worth keeping an eye on as the season wears on.

The Beef - I will say I was impressed at how Cox wrestled the match, as you could see him learning as it went. Once he got the first takedown, you could see him starting to work for a nearfall or pinning combination, but quickly learned the young man from Cornell was just going to be too big for Cox to hold down, as it looked like he was likely giving up around 40-50 pounds. From there, he continued to look for angles, but came to realize that the heel pick (into a single leg) was there each time. The timing worked out nicely for him at the end, as I was concerned the last takedown came with a little too much time left on the clock. Tremendous fortitude to see out the match and I appreciated his reaction with the crowd once it was over. I don’t know if the Tigers will get through the season undefeated again (with duals against Okie State, NC State and some Big 10 teams to come), but I like how much they seem to value it while it is alive.

Shall we move on to this weekend? We’ve got Eastern Michigan at home on Friday evening, and it appears there is only one weight class which will see two ranked wrestlers, with #2 Cox going against #14 Anthony Abro. Beyond that, I don’t see much with this dual. Anyone with anything before we turn our gaze to a bigger MAC dual at Central Michigan on Sunday?

BST - Looks like J'den has 2 wins against Abro, both decisions. I'd like to think he will maybe wanna try and get at least the MD this time around, but I don't think there's anything to worry about at all.

The Beef - Then in the interest of time, let’s start looking at #16 Central Michigan, who (along with #24 Old Dominion) represent the toughest remaining MAC opponents for the Tigers. They’ll be ranked matches at 125 (11/18), 141 (10/16), 149 (3/10) and 174 (9/10), and the Tigers are the higher ranked wrestler in each match. The Tigers have ranked wrestlers also at 133, 165, 184 and 197, with Central having a ranked wrestler at 157 (and neither team with one at HWY). Would certainly seem like this dual is tilted in favor of the Tigers on paper, but what are you looking forward to and how do you think it finishes?

Shaffe - This one has a good chance to be one of those duals that is close across the individual matches but lopsided in final team score. Central Michigan has a lot of good talent on their roster, but most of it is just a shade below what Mizzou has to offer and they'll need some upsets to make the team score close. Ultimately though I don't see anybody in the conference beating the Tigers head to head and I think both duals this weekend turn quite easily toward the Fightin' Smiths.

{Edit - Feel free to use this a Live Thread for the Friday night action against EMU.  Here is a LINK to the broadcast on ESPN3. along with the MATCH NOTES}