Mizzou vs Utah Valley & Wyoming
Mizzou goes on the road after a disappointing upset loss at home last week. They’ll head down to Orem, Utah to face conference foes Utah Valley and Wyoming in a tri-dual. A tri-dual is exactly what it sounds like: three duals in one day. Each team will wrestle each other in a traditional dual setting. Mizzou will dual Wyoming first, then Utah Valley after the two face each other in between. While neither team is ranked, they have a combined nine ranked wrestlers and will wrestle hard in every match. The dual is this Saturday, with Wyoming at 5PM and Utah Valley at 9PM. All three duals will be available to stream on FloWrestling.org. Remember to check out Tiger Style: Wrestling 101 for a refresher on the rules and terminology before tuning in.
Here are ten storylines to look out for in what will be the Tigers longest road trip of the season.
1. Altitude Adjustment
Orem, Utah is 4,774 feet above sea level, much higher than the 758 feet Columbia sits at. That higher altitude will be a big strain on the lungs, and after the Tigers struggled last week with cardio, it could be a big factor.
2. All-American Challenge at 125lbs
Noah Surtin gets another difficult opponent this week when he faces last year’s Big 12 runner-up and 5th place All-American* Taylor LaMont for Utah Valley. LaMont is only 2-1 on the year so far, but he is very accomplished in both folkstyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. He was USA’s representative at the under 23 (U23) world championships in November.
3. Lineup Changes?
Trey Crawford and Connor Brown have alternated starting the past two duals, with both on the wrong side of bonus point losses. Crawford has the better wins this season, but Brown has shown himself to be very talented as a former NCAA qualifier. Time is running out for Mizzou to run with an established starter in the conference tournament, so their choice for starters at this tri-dual will be important.
4. Mocco’s Return
I’m looking for Peyton Mocco to return at 174lbs this week. If he does, he’ll get two ranked matches. Hayden Hastings of Wyoming is a 3x All-American who’s ranked in the top 12. Kekana Fouret of Utah Valley has just recently broken into the rankings. These matches, while tough, are a great chance for Mocco to get back to form.
That was the score of the Mizzou vs. Wyoming dual last season where Mizzou won nine of ten matches. There’s likely to be four different starters for Mizzou, but five rematches from last year’s dual as well. A one-sided score like this may be difficult this time as Wyoming looks improved since last year, but it is not out of the question.
6. Keegan “Kingpin” O’Toole
That’s the nickname I’ve personally given O’Toole, who leads Mizzou’s starters with five pins this season. He’s also known as the “Mayor of Pin City” and will hopefully be making his return after missing last week’s dual. He’ll have a ranked opponent against Wyoming, but I think has a great chance to get two pins in these duals.
7. Jarrett Jacques vs Jacob Wright
Last year Jacques won 3-1 vs Wyoming’s ranked Jacob Wright. However, Jacques has struggled in ranked matches this year. At the same time, all but two of those losses have come by less than two points and most have been decided in the last seconds of the match. I think it’s only a matter of time before Jacques gets back to form, and he’ll have an opportunity here.
8. Jeremiah Kent vs Tate Samuelson
Kent is coming off a big upset loss last week that saw him get exhausted late and lose in overtime. He is 2-0 against his ranked Wyoming opponent with both wins coming last year, 6-1 and 6-4. Kent looked solid until he got tired last match, and at altitude, his gas tank is going to be even more important.
9. Rocky Elam vs Stephen Buchanan
This will be another Mizzou vs. Wyoming rematch. Buchanan lost due to injury default during Rocky’s college debut match last season. Both wrestlers went on to finish as All-Americans last year and will get a chance to recover from recent upset losses. We will see who gets back in the win column.
10. The Takedown Battle
In the loss to South Dakota State last week, a big problem for Mizzou was getting to their takedowns. If the Tigers want to get back into the top ten, they will need to find better finishes and more frequent attacks to start winning the takedown battle.
*An All-American refers to a wrestler who finishes in the top eight at his weight class at the NCAA tournament in March.