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NCAA Championship Wrestling: IT’S DOG BONE SEASON!

The “Dog Bone” formation presents some of the best wrestling matches of the season. How has Mizzou Wrestling fared in this round during the NCAA Championships?

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We have made it to the post-season and you all know what that means, we have reached “Dog Bone” season! For those unaware, Dog Bone season is a once-a-year reference wrestling fans get to double down on when the NCAA Championship tournament comes around. It is where teams separate themselves from the rest and is one of the most entertaining showcases of the nation’s top Division I wrestlers. Concerning what this looks like, I have drawn a Picasso-like picture below to further show what I am talking about.

The Dog Bone configuration presents an opportunity for D1 wrestlers to move on and be crowned a champion, or sent home empty-handed. This is the point in the tournament where the semi-finalist wrestles on the middle two mats and the fourth round consolation or “Blood Round” matches wrestle on the outer mats.

Over the past years, we have seen a number of wrestlers from Mizzou succeed and a number of wrestlers disappoint in these rounds. So how have the Tiger Style wrestlers fared over the past ten years when taking on the Dog Bone? Starting with the semi-finalists, I have gone back since 2012 and compiled charts to show who reached each point. The following charts will tell you:

  • Which year each Mizzou wrestler competed
  • The weight class they competed in
  • Their final tournament placing
  • Who they wrestled in the “Dog Bone” round, with the match result
  • Where that opponent finished inside the bracket

Dog Bone Semifinal Matches (2012-2022)

Year: Weight: Mizz. Finish: Mizzou Wrestler: Match Result: Opponent: Opp. Finish:
Year: Weight: Mizz. Finish: Mizzou Wrestler: Match Result: Opponent: Opp. Finish:
2022 165 1st Place Keegan O'Toole W (4-0 Dec) Cameron Amine (MICH) 4th Place
2021 149 5th Place Brock Mauller L (8-3 Dec) Austin O'Connor UNC) 1st Place
2019 141 3rd Place Jaydin Eiermen L (6-5 Dec) Yianni Diakomihalis (CORN) 1st Place
2019 174 4th Place Daniel Lewis L (11-3 Maj Dec) Zahid Valencia ASU) 1st Place
2018 141 4th Place Jaydin Eiermen L (6-4 Dec) Yianni Diakomihalis (CORN) 1st Place
2018 174 4th Place Daniel Lewis L (Fall) Mark Hall (PSU) 2nd Place
2017 149 2nd Place Lavion Mayes W (4-2 Dec) Max Thomsen (UNI) 5th Place
2017 157 2nd Place Joey Lavallee W (8-5 Dec) Dylan Palacio (CORN) 6th Place
2017 197 1st place J'den Cox W (6-2 Dec) Jared Haught (VT) 4th Place
2016 165 4th Place Daniel Lewis L (14-4 Maj Dec) Alex Dieringer (OKST) 1st Place
2016 184 6th Place Willie Miklus L (12-4 Maj Dec) Timothy Dudley (NEB) 2nd Place
2016 197 1st Place J'den Cox W (Fall) Brett Pfarr (MINN) 3rd Place
2015 125 3rd Place Alan Waters L (4-2 Dec) Nathan Tomasello (OHST) 1st Place
2015 149 1st Place Drake Houdashelt W (4-0 Dec) Christopher Villalonga (CORN) 6th Place
2015 197 5th Place J'den Cox L (3-2 Dec) Kyle Snyder (OHST) 2nd Place
2014 149 5th Place Drake Houdashelt L (2-1 Dec) Jason Tsirtsis (NW) 1st Place
2014 197 1st Place J'den Cox W (4-1 Dec) Chris Penny (VT) 6th Place
2013 125 4th Place Alan Waters L (3-2 Dec) Nicholas Megaludis (PSU) 2nd Place
2013 149 6th Place Drake Houdashelt L (7-3 Dec) Jason Chamberlain (BOISE ST) 2nd Place
2013 285 4th Place Dom Bradley L (3-1 Dec) Michael McMullan (NW) 2nd Place
Matches wrestled on the inner two mats

Since 2012, Mizzou has seen twenty wrestlers enter the semifinal match at the NCAA Championships. Out of those twenty, they have sent seven into the finals match resulting in five national champions: J’den Cox (3x), Drake Houdashelt, and Keegan O’Toole. As for the thirteen sent to the consolation side, only five finished worse than fourth place.

Moving on, I allowed each Mizzou wrestler’s semifinal opponent’s career to play out and see what they had accomplished. Over the past ten years, Mizzou semifinalists have faced four multi-NCAA champs, five individual champs, and 17 multi-All-Americans. The Tigers have seen some fierce competition in the middle of the bone.

As for the outside of the bone, or the “Blood Round”, it began to grow a little more clear where Mizzou has missed the boat at the NCAAs. The consolation side of the bracket can be considered a pivotal part of the team race. These are the matches that can end your season or leave you fighting for a third, fifth, or seventh-place medal. Below is a chart of Mizzou’s consolation matches since 2012.

Dog Bone Blood Round Matches (2012-2022)

Year: Weight: Mizz. Finish: Mizzou Wrestler: Match Result: Opponent: Opp. Finish:
Year: Weight: Mizz. Finish: Mizzou Wrestler: Match Result: Opponent: Opp. Finish:
2022 125 DNP Noah Surtin L (8-4 Dec) Brandon Kaylor (ORST) 8th Place
2022 174 DNP Peyton Mocco L (6-3 Dec) Clay Lautt (UNC) 8th Place
2022 197 4th Place Rocky Elam W (6-1 Dec) Nino Bonaccorsi (PITT) DNP
2022 285 DNP Zach Elam L (4-0 Dec) Tony Cassioppi (IOWA) 7th Place
2021 133 DNP Matt Schmitt L (10-6 Dec) Michael McGee (ASU) 6th Place
2021 141 DNP Allan Hart L (8-7 Dec) Chad Red (NEB) 6th Place
2021 157 DNP Jarrett Jacques L (4-1 Dec) Brayton Lee (MINN) 6th Place
2021 165 3rd Place Keegan O'Toole W (5-1 Dec) Luke Weber (NDSU) DNP
2021 197 5th Place Rocky Elam W (9-1 Dec) Kordell Norfleet (ASU) DNP
2019 133 6th Place John Erneste W (9-7 Dec) Tariq Wilson (NC State) DNP
2019 149 6th Place Brock Mauller W (Fall) Max Thomsen (UNI) DNP
2019 285 DNP Zach Elam L (1-0 Dec) Trent Hillger (WISC) 8th Place
2018 133 DNP John Erneste L (5-4 Dec) Montorie Bridges (WYO) 8th Place
2018 149 6th Place Grant Leeth W (3-2 Dec) Max Thomsen (UNI) DNP
2018 157 DNP Joey Lavallee L (5-2 Dec) Michael Kermer (IOWA) 4th Place
2018 197 8th Place Willie Miklus W (9-5 Dec) Nate Rotert (SDSU) DNP
2017 141 5th Place Jaydin Eiermen W (8-0 Dec) Joey McKenna (STAN) DNP
2017 165 6th Place Daniel Lewis W (14-4 Maj Dec) Nicholas Wanzek (MINN) DNP
2016 125 DNP Barlow McGhee L (5-3 Dec) Conor Youtsey (MICH) 5th Place
2016 149 3rd place Lavion Mayes W (6-2 Dec) Patricio Lugo (EDIN) DNP
2016 174 DNP Blaise Butler L (4-2 Dec) Cody Walter (OHIO) 7th Place
2015 141 7th Place Lavion Mayes W (16-8 Maj Dec) Anthony Abidin (NEB) DNP
2015 165 DNP Mikey England L (Fall) Jackson Morse (ILL) 4th Place
2015 184 7th Place Willie Miklus W (13-7 Dec) Taylor Meeks(ORST) DNP
2015 285 DNP Devin Mellon L (4-1 Dec) James Lawson (PSU) 6th Place
2014 157 DNP Joey Lavallee L (12-2 Maj Dec) James Green (NEB) 3rd Place
2013 133 8th Place Nathan McCormick W (Fall) Levi Wolfensperger (UNI) DNP
2013 174 DNP Todd Porter L (8-0 Dec) Michael Evans (IOWA) 6th Place
2013 184 8th Place Mike Larson W (4-2 Dec) Max Thomusseit (PITT) DNP
2012 125 DNP Alan Waters L (5-2 Dec) Jesse Delgado (ILL) 7th Place
2012 184 DNP Mike Larson L (17-2 Tech Fall) Kevin Steinhaus (MINN) 5th Place
2012 197 DNP Brett Haynes L (10-3 Dec) Joseph Kennedy (LH) 8th Place
Matches wrestled on the outer four mats

The outer bone matches resulted in a below .500 record for the Tigers. Since 2012, the Tigers have gone 14-17 in “Blood Round” matches. Only three of the fourteen who moved on made it to the third-place bout. Allowing each Blood Round opponent’s career to play out, the Mizzou wrestlers took on eleven one-time, six two-time, four three-time, and two four-time NCAA All-Americans. Below is an overall look at both the semifinal and consolation contests consisting of:

  • NCAA Championship year
  • Number of NCAA Championship qualifiers
  • Semifinalist wrestlers with round record
  • Blood round wrestlers with round record
  • Overall Record
  • All-American finishes

Overall Dog Bone Record (2012-2022)

Year: Qualifiers: Semifinalist: Blood Round: Dog Bone Record: All-Americans:
Year: Qualifiers: Semifinalist: Blood Round: Dog Bone Record: All-Americans:
2022 9 1 (1-0) 4 (1-3) 2-3 2
2021 10 1 (0-1) 5 (2-3) 1-5 3
2019 9 2 (0-2) 3 (2-1) 2-3 4
2018 9 2 (0-2) 4 (2-2) 2-4 4
2017 8 3 (3-0) 2 (2-0) 5-0 5
2016 9 3 (1-2) 3 (1-2) 2-4 4
2015 10 3 (1-2) 4 (2-2) 3-4 5
2014 8 2 (1-1) 1 (0-1) 1-2 2
2013 10 3 (0-3) 3 (2-1) 2-4 5
2012 10 0 (0-0) 3 (0-3) 0-3 0
Total 92 20 (7-13) 32 (14-18) 20-32 34

Diving deeper into the numbers behind the Dog Bone for Mizzou, I went back through to see where team points were missed and figured in “adjusted points.” Placing as deep as eighth place, wrestlers are awarded placement points when they reach a certain position within their bracket: 1st (16), 2nd (12), 3rd (10), 4th (9), 5th (7), 6th (6), 7th (4), and 8th (3). Advancement points are also awarded for a victory. You gain one point (+1.0) for winning on the champ side, and half a point (+0.5) for winning on the consolation side. I did not add any bonus points for falls, tech falls, or major decisions as that is a complete unknown.

For the Blood Round bout, if a Mizzou wrestler wins their match instead of being eliminated, they would be guaranteed at least an eighth-place medal giving them three (+3.0) automatic placement points. They would also gain half a point (+0.5) for advancing on the consolation side. In summary, if they win their blood match and then lose out they would gain an added three and a half points (+3.5) toward the final team score.

I have also gone back through and made adjusted points for the champion side of the bracket. This one becomes a little more difficult to explain so I have gone to the rule book to help explain it in a brief summary. (See block quote*)

To make sense of all this, knowing semifinalists can’t place lower than sixth, all wrestlers who enter the semifinal bout receive six automatic placement points before they even wrestle. If they win and advance to the finals, they will receive an additional six points, including one advancement point for a victory on the champ side. In total, each finalist receives at least twelve placement points prior to competing for a title. For those who I haven’t lost yet, by winning the semifinal contest instead of losing, a wrestler could gain an added seven points just by reaching the finals.

As for those who lost their semifinal match, things get a little more complicated. For example, let’s look at Mizzou’s Brock Mauller during the 2021 NCAA Championship. Mauller made it to the semifinals match which gives him six placement points by default. He was then defeated, sending him to the consolation side of the bracket where he ended with a fifth-place finish.

Since he finished fifth, his final placement total was seven points. His adjusted placement points would be five, which is a difference between second place (12 pts) and fifth place (7 pts). He would also have been awarded one advancement point had he moved on to the finals match. In total, Mauller’s final adjustment number would be six points. For the sake of saving space, I have condensed my chart to allow easier viewing.

Adjusted Missed Team Points (2012-2022)

Year: Missed CR4 Adv Pts: Missed CR4 Place Pts: Missed Semi Adv Pts: Missed Semi Place Pts: Missed Pts: Actual Finish: Missed Finish:
Year: Missed CR4 Adv Pts: Missed CR4 Place Pts: Missed Semi Adv Pts: Missed Semi Place Pts: Missed Pts: Actual Finish: Missed Finish:
2022 1.5 9 X X 10.5 9th (49.5) 5th (60)
2021 1.5 9 1 5 16.5 7th (64) 4th (80.5)
2019 0.5 3 2 5 10.5 6th (62) 5th (71.5)
2018 1 6 2 6 15 6th (61.5) 6th (76.5)
2017 X X X X 0 5th (86.5) 5th (86.5)
2016 1 6 2 9 18 6th (74.5) 3rd (92.5)
2015 1 6 2 7 16 4th (73.5) 2nd (89.5)
2014 0.5 3 1 5 9.5 14th (40.5) 8th (50)
2013 0.5 3 3 12 18.5 7th (56.5) 4th (75)
2012 1.5 9 X X 10.5 26th (20) 21st (30.5)
TOTAL 9 54 13 49 125
CR4 = Consolation Round 4

With the exception of the 2017 season, Mizzou has seen themselves falling in pivotal matches. Getting to this point in the tournament is one thing, breaking the barrier is another. Granted this is all hypothetical as various team scores would be altered by wins and losses changing the outcome of every bracket.

This just goes to show, had Mizzou hit on the matches that they lost, they would be looking at what could have been, instead of what it is. Showing up on the big stage is always a major part of any national competition. These are the situations that can help a program turn the corner and cause a ripple effect year after year.

Mizzou is a steadily growing powerhouse in the wrestling community. The pieces are in place for some real Tiger Style noise. If they can find a way to alter these outcomes now and in the future, they will be looking at much heavier hardware on their travels back to Columbia.