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Mizzou Wrestling: Closing out another perfect MAC regular season

The Tigers completed another eight-dual sweep through the MAC (their second straight such sweep if you are into alliteration) and now set their sites on a big-time foe this coming weekend

The Tigers capped another MAC regular season title
The Tigers capped another MAC regular season title
The Beef

The Beef - Well gentlemen, it was perhaps closer than we might have thought in this meet, but Mizzou scored bonus points in four of their six wins, including two pins to earn a 26-14 win at Northern Illinois.  That win propelled Mizzou to their second straight MAC regular season title (not really a thing) as the Tigers now start down the home stretch towards the National Duals (less of a thing this year), the MAC Tournament (definitely a thing) and the NCAA Championships (the biggest thing).  Before we get to the meet review, any big picture thoughts on the wrapping up of another perfect MAC dual season?

Shaffe - In a very tough year for university athletics it is nice to win SOMETHING even if it’s not really much of a thing. The MAC is down a tiny bit this year relative to past years so anything less than 8-0 in conference would have been a pretty sizeable surprise for the Tigers, however it’s always nice when expected successes turn into actual results. I fully expect Mizzou to roll through the "definitely a thing" MAC tournament in Ypsilanti and potentially qualify 9 wrestlers to the "biggest thing" NCAA tournament in New York City but that’s probably getting a bit ahead of the game.

BST - The final dual score was closer than I expected, but I also thought Lewis and Miklus would be out there. Those two not wrestling is a big difference, even if Johnston still got the win. I have all the trust in the world in Brian Smith, and I'm sure Miklus is still nursing that ankle and Lewis is either getting a rest or is a tad dinged up himself.

On the conference season as a whole though, I think any time you run through an 8 dual season its a heck of an accomplishment. We've pretty well had a bullseye on our backs since wrestling joined the MAC and often get each teams best shot. Smith keeps his guys on point and ready to go each time out. As Shaffe said, wrestling is the best thing Mizzou has going right now, so its damn fun to watch and root these guys on.

The Beef - I will say I really appreciate the lineup management given the notion (with which I agree) that everyone in the MAC is gunning for us.  It has allowed us to get some people some rest and/or experience, but also keeps our ability to win these matchups from week to week.  It is a delicate dance to replace a third of your starting lineup, but can be even tougher when your opponent may be treating your meet as their Super Bowl of sorts.

Alright, let’s get to the action, and we’ll start at 165, as the dual did.  Daniel Lewis took the day off and Matt Lemanowicz took his spot.  Needless to say, it was a decent start for NIU, as they got out to a 4-0 lead off of the major decision.  The next two matches, however, were a tad batter for our Tigers, no?

BST - Two falls in just over 5 minutes of match time ain't bad at all. Blaise has looked MUCH better his last few times out, which is very encouraging as we head towards the final stretch of the season. Cody Johnston has done damn well for himself as well. Awesome to see the Sr. get some mat time this season and make the most of it.

Shaffe - Watching Butler’s match live I felt like he had his pin for at least 10 or 15 seconds before the ref eventually slapped the mat, but all is well that ends well I suppose. Cody Johnston has really shown well in Miklus’ absence these past few weeks and it’s nice to have a worthwhile backup to put out there when the occasional injury or need to rest a guy hits. I would guess we’ll see Big Willie at some point this weekend, if not both times, as he’ll want to shake off the rust before the last few big tests of the season.

The Beef - I very much agree with the idea that Butler seems improved in these past weeks and that is exciting going forward for what he may be able to offer to the team for both the MAC’s and NCAA’s.

On to the next three weights, we saw J’Den win another match over a decent Shawn Scott (I believe his fifth win over him) while Romero fell to a BIG senior wrestler.  Back around to McGhee at 125, I thought he looked great in the first period, disinterested in the second and got engaged again about midway through the third before closing out the win.  Thoughts?

BST - Think we saw J'den doing J'den things, he was thisclose to getting the Tech, but he still got the extra team points. I still have no idea what to think about the HWT division. I hope Romero hasn't been beaten up so bad this year that he can't recover and be a decent to pretty ok member of the team going forward.

Barlow did look a bit all over the place. Reminded me of what we saw from Lavion a lot last year. He came out and showed off some good offense and pretty well controlled the match and then went into a coma. I'm glad he won the match, but the way he started it should have been closer to an MD,and not a 3 point victory that looked in question early in the 3rd.

Shaffe - I don’t have a whole lot to add to BST’s top flight analysis here. J’Den was J’Den and completely dominated all aspects of his match, Romero continues to show his inability to get up off the matt against his much larger opponents, and McGhee did enough to get a win but look a little underwhelming doing it.

The Beef - Alright, let’s have Shaffe lead off here there in what was probably the most surprising result of the weekend, which was Zach Synon dropping a lengthy OT match at 133 to an unranked opponent.

Shaffe - Synon provided the only real disappointment on the day for the Tigers in dropping a match that he really didn’t have much business losing. In watching the match live though I felt like his opponent should have been hit for a few stalling calls that the official interpreted differently, but Synon shouldn’t have put himself in that position in the first place. I don’t have the technical wrestling knowledge you two have to really analyze in depth exactly how he went wrong, but he’ll be one to keep an eye on as this season winds down and we move into next year with a talented freshman redshirting in the wings. Hopefully for the sake of 2015 though Zach is able to rebound from a few disappointments of late and pick up some team points at the NCAA tournament.

BST - Sorry Shaffe, I did not actually get to watch this match so I'll defer to Beef on whether or not he saw anything that Synon could/should have done within the match differently. It is definitely a disappointing result, but I'd rather have those now than in a month.

The Beef - I will say I very much agreed with Shaffe in being confused about what was (evidently not) a stall on the edge by the NIU wrestler and what was a continuation.  For much of the match in regular time, Synon was forcing the action on the edge.  He wasn’t TERRIBLY active, but he certainly had the positioning.  There was at least two or three times where I thought he was going to earn the stall on the NIU wrestler and it did not come.  And in a match decided in multiple OT’s, he likely only needed one call to pull the match out.

Also, no one ever looks as pained as Zach Synon does during a match.

We’ll gloss over 141, as Matt Manley had the weekend off (though he moved up to #7 in the nation), moving to 149, where Lavion Mayes won again, albeit in his typically somewhat not-impressive manner to which we have become accustomed this season. This time, he earned an escape with just a handful of seconds remaining with the dual result still in just a tad bit of doubt. Mayes remains at #3 in the country with a couple of Big 10 sophs in front of him (Sorenson of Iowa and Retherford of PSU).

Finally for me, another solid win from Barnes at 157, who really has brought nice stability to the weight class after the early-season scramble when it was decided that Joey Lavallee is sitting out the season. I’ll defer to Shaffe here for any final thoughts before we start looking at this coming weekend and the two road meets against Appalachian State and the HUGE meet against NC State


The Beef – Pretty damn YUGE I’d say

Shaffe - One of these days Mayes is going to mess around and get himself beat if he doesn’t start putting guys away like he should. As far as his ranking, I was thinking over the weekend how it’s strange to see him ranked behind Sorenson since Mayes dominated the Hawkeye twice last year and hasn’t lost this year. In the end there’s no real difference between 2 and 3 in the NCAA bracket, but it is strange to me.

As for Barnes, I think I feel safer than ever in projecting that he will steal an NCAA bid at the conference tournament next month. He’s really grown into his weight and is looking pretty good against the competition he’ll have to face to earn that bid, and as long as the MAC gets at least 4 bids I like his chances to make the semis.

Alright, let’s roll on to this upcoming weekend. Should we blow right by the appetizer (Appalachian State) and get right to the Wolfpack main course for Sunday? I’m not very well acquainted with Appalachian State to know what kind of quality they have in their lineup.

BST - Looks like App St. has a decent 174lber and a solid HWT:

The Beef - I’ll finish with Barnes by saying that the MAC is pretty strong at 157 (five within the top-29 in the coach’s rankings from late January), and he will likely have to work his way through the field a bit, but you have to like how he is wrestling.  If anything, his strong January and early Feb maybe pushes the MAC to get five wrestlers at the NCAA’s, giving him all the better chance to get in.

For App State, yes, I imagine we have a chance to do some lineup maneuvering again should we choose to, and Butler will have another nice chance to pick up a solid win. As for Romero at HWY, as we will see with the NC State dual, the young man is going to take his lumps this weekend for sure.

So let’s look at NC State:

LOTS of tasty matchups in that one, which one are you looking forward to the most?

BST - Holy crap, these teams are about as evenly matched as it gets. I of course am most looking forward to seeing Daniel Lewis back out there against #4 Rohskopf. This could be yet another top flight win for the redshirt frosh. Really tho, just about any weight (except heavy) is gonna be fun to watch.

Shaffe - I’m really looking forward to Manley and Kevin Jack at 141. Manley has been such a huge addition to the lineup this year and he’s got another shot at bolstering his resume against the #3 wrestler in the country according to Intermat. Manley showed pretty well against #1 Dean Hiel a few weeks ago in Stillwater and I think he’ll give Jack all he can handle as well.

The Beef - Shaffe totally stole my answer.  I am very excited about Manley getting a chance to really make a national statement here leading into the tournament season.  And looking at the wrestlestats site, this matchup could be REALLY close.  Also, I am really looking forward to hopefully seeing Miklus back on the mat.  I don’t think the time off has hurt him a TON, but I do think it maybe has hurt the seeding some.  Getting back and getting a win over another top-20 guy would be a nice step in the right direction towards hopefully another AA campaign.

Before we go about picking a final score for the NC State dual, I do want to mention how important it might be to our participation in the National Duals. Because the format is ridiculously dumb (BIG schools vs. non-BIG schools in a one-match dual), this match against the Pack is very likely to help determine seeding. With PSU and Iowa as #1 and #2 and then Okie State/NC State/Mizzou right behind with Michigan at #6, a win over NC State could put us in line for a return trip to Iowa over a trip to Ann Arbor (as I don’t think we would pass Okie State for a shot to wrestle Penn State. You guys concur?

BST - I concur that it is dumb, and that yeah that seems like where we are for seeding.

Shaffe - I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time to rail on the stupidity of this year’s national duals tournament during next week’s piece, so I’ll hold my punches for now. I do agree that Mizzou appears to be in line to be considered the #2 "non Big 10" team in that mess which would put them on course for another trip to Carver-Hawkeye arena.

The Beef - Alright then boys…let’s get out of here.  How do you see the NC State dual finishing?  I am looking at more wins for Mizzou than I thought, feeling good about picking the Tigers at 125, 133, 149, 174, 184 and 197, with CLOSE matches at 141 and 165.  I think 157 will be a tight loss and HWY is likely to be ugly, but I think I have the Tigers winning easier than I would have originally thought.  Will someone be my voice of reason?  And by someone, I mean not likely to be BST.

Shaffe - I’ve got 19-16 Mizzou. Wins at 125, 133, 149, 174, and 184 with a major decision from Cox at 197. This, of course, assumes all 10 starters take the mat which is no given at this point in time. All I know is Mizzou better have a 7 point lead in the dual going into the heavyweight match because Gwiazdowski will pin Romero with ease.

BST - I've got Mizzou winning at 125, 133, 149, 165, 178, 184 & 197. Something in the neighborhood of 21-14, Mizzou.

The Beef - Alright, if I am putting a score to it, I’ve got 19-15, with Butler scoring the major and Gwiz the pin at HWY.  But man oh man I struggled picking against Manley and Lewis.  We shall see….

BST – Lewis will show you all!