The Mizzou wrestling team has been around a long time, dating all the way back to 1923. Over that time, we have seen a number of talented wrestlers come and go throughout the program. The Tigers wrestling team has accumulated 9 National Champions, 83 All-Americans, and 11 Conference Championships in this timeframe.
Every wrestler to come through Mizzou has made a positive impact on the team and succeeded on multiple levels. The success of this program is only progressing every year and the competition level continues to grow. It is difficult to pick out one guy at every weight class— with a couple exceptions, some are equally qualified.
Let’s take a look at the best of the best to step on the mat for the Tigers!
Head Coach: Brian Smith
Head Coach Brian Smith has been leading the Missouri Wrestling team since 1998 and has become the winningest coach in program history. He has led the Tigers to 11 straight conference championships (2 Big 12, 9 MAC). Coach Smith has accepted multiple awards during his time with Mizzou, including 2x Big 12 Coach of the Year (2012, 2022), 5x MAC Coach of the Year, and Dan Gable Coach of the Year (2007), among numerous others. He has coached all nine of Missouri’s national champions and accounts for 60 All-Americans.
125lbs: Alan Waters (2010-2015)
Alan Waters sits alone atop the 125lb weight class. Mizzou has had multiple wrestlers come in and compete, but none have had the talents to unseat Waters. He surprisingly only has two All-American finishes to his name and is one of the few wrestlers whose numbers could easily be passed in the future.
Waters is currently tied for 2nd on the all-time wins list (136) and is a two time All-American, finishing 4th in 2013 & 3rd in 2015. He has a 13-7 all-time NCAA Championship. Waters is also a three-time conference champ (Big 12 in 2012 & MAC in 2013, 2015), and currently sits at 4th all time in tech falls (17), 3rd all time win percentage (.907), and T-10th in falls (27) for a career at Mizzou.
- National Awards: MAC Championships Most Outstanding Wrestler (2015)
- Mizzou Awards: Hap Whitney Coach’s Award (2015), Most Outstanding Wrestler (2012), Marshall Esteppe Most Outstanding Freshman (2011)
133lbs: Tyler McCormick (2004-2008)
The 133lb weight class came down to Tyler McCormick and John Erneste (2014-2019). While McCormick held multiple All-American honors, Erneste (1x All-American) closed the gap with a significant win over a current two-time NCAA champ from Penn State. When all the dust settles, it is Tyler McCormick coming out on top at 133.
Tyler McCormick was a three-time NCAA qualifier and two-time All-American (7th in 06, 6th in 07) with a 10-7 Championship record. Going along with his on the mat achievements, McCormick was also awarded for numerous scholar-athlete awards.
- Mizzou Awards: Hap Whitney Coach’s Award (2008), Ed Lampitt Total Tiger (2007), Most Improved Wrestler (2006), Marshall Esteppe Most Outstanding Freshman (2005)
141lbs: Jaydin Eierman (2017-2019)
The 141lbs weight class was a two man competition for the final spot between Jaydin Eierman and Kenny Liddell (1990-95). Liddell is a two-time All-American (4th in 1992, 5th in 1995) and among the top ten on the all-time wins list (T-6th). In the few years Eierman spent with the Tigers, it was hard to ever count him out though, which is why he takes the spot at 141.
Eierman spent three seasons with the Missouri Wrestling Team prior to transferring to Iowa. During his time with the Tigers, Jaydin was three-time All-American, finishing 5th in 2017, 4th in 2018, & 3rd in 2019 with a Championship record of 14-5. Eierman finished as a three- time MAC champ all three years at Mizzou. He currently sits 7th all time in career falls (38).
- National Awards: MAC Championships Most Outstanding Wrestler (2019), MAC Freshman of the Year (2017), MAC Wrestler of the Year (2018, 2019)
- Mizzou Awards: Most Outstanding Wrestler (2018, 2019), Marshall Esteppe Most Outstanding Freshman (2017)
149lbs: Drake Houdashelt (2011-2015)
The 149lbs showdown came to three multi All-Americans: Brock Mauller (2x), Drake Houdashelt (3x), and Lavion Mayes (3x). Mayes (2014-2017), a 2017 NCAA runner-up, finished inside the top three twice and ranks inside the top ten in three of the five major career records (wins, win percentage, major decisions). Mauller (2018-Pres.) is three wins away from cracking the top win percentage list, and is still actively seeking to advance his Missouri career. While a three man round robin here would be a thrill to watch, Houdashelt is the only one to medal three times at the weight class, and cap it off with a National Championship.
Drake Houdashelt is a four-time NCAA qualifier and three-time All-American (6th in 2013, 5th in 2014, 1st in 2015) with a 11-7 Championship record. Drake was the fifth Mizzou wrestler to win a National title for the Tigers. He was a four time conference champ (1 Big 12, 3 MAC) and currently ranks 4th in all-time wins (136), 7th in win percentage (.854), 1st in tech falls, and 1st in major decisions.
- National Awards: MAC Wrestler of the Year (2015)
- Mizzou Awards: Most Outstanding Wrestler (2015), Hap Whitney Coach’s Award (2014), Marshall Esteppe Most Outstanding Freshman (2012)
157lbs: Michael Chandler (2005-2009)
This was one of the toughest decisions to make on this lineup, because it was Joey Lavallee (2013-2018) vs. Michael Chandler. Both were one time All-Americans, four-time NCAA Qualifiers, and important building blocks to the program. If it came to post-Mizzou, Chandler runs away with it. If it comes to top NCAA placement, than Lavallee’s 2nd place finish in 2017 gets the nod over Chandler’s 5th place finish in 2009. My head says to go with Lavallee, but my gut says Michael Chandler so the 157 weight class goes to Mike. Mike Chandler finished his Mizzou career sneaking into the 100 win club his senior season.
- Mizzou Awards: Ed Lampitt Total Tiger Award (2009), Hap Whitney Coaches Award (2009)
165lbs: Keegan O’Toole (2020-Present)
Keegan O’Toole is part of the current wrestling team, but has already cemented his name atop the Mizzou record books. Pushing him for the top spot are three two-time All-Americans: Tyron Woodley (2001-2005), Shaon Fry (1990-1994), and Nicholas Marable (2006-2010). With O’Toole only in his second season at Mizzou, he has many matches ahead of him to catch the the other three in the 100 win club. Because of this, O’Toole remains a force in his early career and wins the starting spot.
So far in O’Toole’s short career at Mizzou, he has already started to accumulate multiple awards and achievements. While he has yet crack the statistical ranks, he is a two-time All-American (3rd in 2021, 1st in 2022) and has an 11-1 Championship record. O’Toole has won a Championship in both the MAC and the Big 12.
- National Awards: Big 12 Wrestler of the Year (2022), Dan Hodge Nominee (2022)
- Mizzou Awards: Marshall Esteppe Most Outstanding Freshman (2021), Most Outstanding Wrestler (2021)
174lbs: Ben Askren (2003-2007)
There is no wrestler here to take the job from Ben Askren, but in a bout for the reserve spot you have Daniel Lewis (4x All-American, 2nd all-time falls) and Raymond Jordan (2x All American). Both were hammers at their weight class,collecting over 100 wins apiece during their respective careers.
Ben Askren is considered by many to be the most dominant wrestler to set foot on campus for Mizzou. Askren is the all-time wins (153) leader in Mizzou wrestling history. He was a three-time Big 12 Champ (04, 06, 07), four-time NCAA All-American finalist (04-07), two-time National Champ (2006, 2007), and the first to bring home a gold medal for the Tigers. He finished his NCAA Championship career with a 17-2 tournament record. Askren is the first Missouri sports Hall Of Famer to crack the lineup. He currently sits 2nd in win percentage (.950), 1st in falls (91), and 5th in tech falls (15).
- National Awards: Dan Hodge Award Winner (2006, 2007), Most Outstanding Wrestler at NCAAs (2006), Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Big 12s (2004)
- Mizzou Awards: 4x Most Outstanding Wrestler (2004-2007), Marshall Esteppe Most Outstanding Freshman (2004)
184lbs: Max Askren (2006-2010)
The mix and match of wrestlers from 184 to 197 jumps all over the place. In a five man competition, the final matchup came down to Max Askren and Scott Barker. Barker, a two- time All-American and 2003 NCAA runner-up, falls just short of earning the top spot.
Max Askren, brother to Ben Askren, is a four-time NCAA qualifier and three-time All-American (7th in 2008, 5th in 2009, 1st in 2010), with a 13-6 Championship record. He is also a two-time Big 12 Champion. Max currently sits 6th in all-time win percentage (.867) at Mizzou, and is the second Hall of Famer to join the all time starting lineup.
- Mizzou Awards: Most Outstanding Wrestler (2010), Marshall Esteppe Most Outstanding Freshman (2007)
197lbs: J’Den Cox (2013-2017)
J’Den Cox is another wrestler in no danger of losing the top spot. The battle for the reserve role here comes down to two three-time All-Americans: Willie Miklus (2013-2018) and current two time All-American, Rocky Elam (2020-Pres).
J’den Cox is a four-time NCAA All-American and has three individual championships (2014, 2016, 2017) to go along with one 5th place finish (2015). J’den has a 19-2 Championship record. During his time at Mizzou, Cox was a Dan Hodge Award finalist, a four-time MAC Champion, and ranked among the tops in every major career statistical category including: T-2nd in wins (136), 1st in win percentage (.965), 2nd in tech falls (20), & T-10th in falls (27). It also doesn’t hurt that he’s done amazing in his professional career as well.
- National Awards: Most Outstanding Wrestler at MAC (2014, 2016, 2017), MAC Freshman of the Year (2014), Mac Wrestler of the Year (2014, 2016, 2017)
- Mizzou Awards: Most Outstanding Wrestler (2014, 2016, 2017), Ed Lampitt Total Tiger (2015, 2017), Marshall Esteppe Most Outstanding Freshman (2014)
285lbs: Mark Ellis (2006-2010)
The final weight class comes down to a competition between two two-time All-Americans in Mark Ellis and [current Tiger assistant] Dom Bradley (2007-2013). Bradley had a decorated career as a Tiger, finishing inside the top five at the NCAA Championship twice and making the 100 win club. This was another tough decision to make as this matchup has potential for fireworks but the nod goes to Ellis.
Mark Ellis is a two-time NCAA All-American (1st in 2009, 6th in 2010) and four-time NCAA Qualifier. He finished his NCAA Championship career with a 13-7 record. Ellis currently ranks 8th for all-time falls with 30 and is a member of the Mizzou Sports Hall of Fame.
- Mizzou: Ed Lampitt Total Tiger (2010), Most Outstanding Wrestler (2009)
- Most Outstanding Wrestler: The oldest award given by the Missouri wrestling program, the most outstanding wrestler is selected by the coaching staff and presented to the wrestler that has accomplished amazing feats on the mat
- Marshall Esteppe Most Outstanding Freshman: Given to the freshman wrestler who has made the most significant contribution to his class and teammates.
- Ed Lampitt Total Tiger Award: Given to the wrestler who is a leader both on and off the mat.
- Hap Whitney Coach’s Award: Given to the wrestler that displays dedication, commitment, sacrifice and unselfishness to the team on a constant basis.
- Most Improved Wrestler: Given to the student-athlete that has shown the greatest amount of improvement in their skills on the mat over the course of the year.