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Mizzou Wrestling retakes Braggin’ Rights over Illinois

The Tigers took down the Illini at Stifel Theatre in St. Louis

Mizzou Athletics

The (newly minted) second-ranked Mizzou Tigers returned bragging rights in wrestling to the west of the Mississippi in their first match with Illinois since 2019, leading from start to finish for a 29-6 victory. Only two Tigers, Brock Mauller and Peyton Mocco, were on the roster for their last meet with the Illini when Mizzou lost 19-14.

The meet took place in a unique location at Stifel Theatre in St. Louis, and the crowd was packed with nearly 3,000 fans to continue the success of the Zou to the Lou series. After a 6-1 decision for Noah Surtin to kick off the action, Kade Moore continued to settle into his spot in the lineup with 17-8 major decision. He continued to wrestle aggressively, cutting his opponent Kole Brower after takedowns and looking to pile up points.

In the first ranked vs. ranked matchup of the night, Josh Edmond earned the 10-5 decision over 18th-ranked Danny Pucino, a nice course correction after losing some close matches to quality wrestlers so far this year. Mizzou suffered its first loss of the night at 149 when Logan Gioffre was defeated in overtime by top-20 ranked Kannon Webster (great wrestling name, by the way), who scored the first and only takedown of the match for a 4-1 sudden victory.

Taking a 10-3 lead into the match at 157, Brock Mauller continued to pick up bonus point victories with a 14-5 major decision over Joe Roberts. Instead of Keegan O’Toole taking his usual spot at 165, James Conway wrestled up a class. Facing Chris Moore, Conway led 3-1 after the first period but slowly ceded control of the match and lost in a 5-4 decision to narrow the lead to 14-6 for the Tigers.

Conway took the spot at 165 because Keegan O’Toole wrestled up a weight class tonight, taking on 5th-ranked Edmond Ruth at 174. Usually, wrestling someone a weight class above you who’s ranked in the top-5 in their class would be a bit of a problem. But O’Toole isn’t usual, he’s exceptional, and he showed it with a 12-7 decision. And before he did that, he had a WWE-worthy entrance.

Mizzou started to open up the truly large lead they’re accustomed to with the next match, as Clayton Whiting gave the Tigers all six possible team points with the first pin of the night after dominating throughout the match.

In a switch of styles, Rocky Elam never trailed facing Isiah Pettigrew in the match at 197 but sweated out a narrow 5-2 decision. His brother Zach faced a similar situation at 285 to close out the meet, winning 1-0 on an escape starting from bottom in the third period to finish up a 29-6 team win.

This wasn’t the demolition derby Mizzou had put on display in their last couple of matches, but coach Brian Smith and crew were able to claim Braggin’ Rights for the first time in over four years. They will now refocus on a marquee matchup as the #11 Virginia Tech Hokies roll into Columbia for a meet the night of Tuesday, January 2.