Sometimes getting wild hair can lead you down a rabbit hole. Digging through the Mizzou Wrestling archives got me wondering, which weight class holds the title for being the most dominant from the beginning?
(Buckle up, It’s a long one but worth it!)*
Kicking this thing off, we reach all the way back to 1930 when Mizzou Wrestling welcomed Von Robbins, its first-ever NCAA All-American, back to campus. Robbins wrestled in the 175lbs weight class and went 3-2 with 3 wins by a decision, at the NCAA Championships bringing home a third-place medal.
For followers of my articles, you will understand I’m a fan of numbers and charts which makes the numbers much easier to read and understand. So without further ado, we begin with a chart. As I worked through the brackets and weight classes, It became clear I had to find a way to group weight classes accordingly as they changed periodically throughout the past several years. Below is how I put these weights into single divisions.
Weight Class Grouping
|Current Weight:||Past Weight 1:||Past Weight 2:|
|Current Weight:||Past Weight 1:||Past Weight 2:|
Now that we have each weight division determined and grouped, let’s get to the good stuff. Ranking from least to most dominant weight at the NCAA Wrestling Championship for Mizzou since 1930!
Setting at the bottom of the ranks we have the 133lbs weight class. At 133, Mizzou has accounted for 30 NCAA qualifiers. Within those 30, they have successfully walked out with 6 All-Americans accounting for 3-6th, 2-7th, and 1-8th place medals. It currently holds a .456 win percentage carrying a 47-56 record. The 133lbs weight class didn’t see its first medal at the NCAA Championships until 1979 (6th), where it saw back-to-back medals in consecutive years by brothers (Khris & Keith Whelan). Fun factoid about 133, it is the only weight class in Mizzou history where multiple brothers received All-American status in the same weight— the Whelans, and Tyler/Nathan McCormick.
The next class belongs to the heavies at 285 with a .489 winning percentage (46-48) and 28 qualifiers. This one may confuse some being that it has one of Mizzou’s nine national champions, Mark Ellis in 2009 (First AA at 285). Beyond that, there are only 3 more All-American finishes: 1-3rd, 1-4th, and 1-6th, all of which belong to just two individuals, Mark Ellis and current assistant coach, Dom Bradley. Bradley was the last wrestler in this class to medal in the NCAA Tournament which dates back a decade ago in 2013 when he finished with a 4th place medal. It is also the lone class that has yet to have a victory by tech fall in the championships.
Making our way to the top, our next stop belongs to the 141 weight class. The first podium finish at 141 came in 1983 by Khris Whelan who earned a 4th place medal. With a .485 winning percentage (48-51), 141 barely edges out 285 from being in the nine-hole. Having a total of 32 NCAA qualifiers and 6 All-American medals, this particular weight class tops out with a 3rd place finish which didn’t come until 2019 by Jaydin Eierman. Eierman is the owner of three of the six All-American medals at 141, which in total adds up to 1-3rd, 2-4th, 1-5th, 1-6th, and 1-7th place medals. Mizzou has qualified a wrestler every year at 141 since Marcus Hoehn in 2009.
The case could be made for 125 and 141 to be switched but for the 7th place spot, I gave the edge to 125 with a 41-41 record (.500). Inside this weight, out of the 25 qualifiers, there have been a total of 5 All-Americans, 1-3rd, 2-4th, 1-5th, and 1-7th place medals. The first medal and top finish to come here was in 1984 by Joe Spinazzola, who finished 4th. The most recent medal belongs to Alan Waters, a 4x qualifier who took home a 3rd place medal in 2014 and holds two out of the five medals at 125 lbs.
At the 6th ranked spot, we finally break the .500 mark with the 157lbs weight class. With 33 total NCAA qualifiers, 157 currently holds a 62-55 record (.529), accounting for 6 total All-Americans, all of which are individuals. This is the only weight class that doesn’t belong in the two-timer category. Mizzou wrestling’s 157 weight class is credited for 1-2nd, 3-4th, 1-5th, and 1-7th place medals. Dating back to 1977, the first 157lbs medal was achieved by Terril Williams (4th). As for the best finish, that belongs to Joey Lavallee, who finished with a silver medal (2nd) during the 2017 season.
Making our way into the top five, our 5th ranked weight class and first to break the 6-medal threshold, is awarded to 184lbs. This weight class is accountable for 28 NCAA qualifiers with a record of 58-50 (.537). Our first medal at 184 belongs to Dave Young who not only took home 5th place but did it in back-to-back seasons going 7-4 in that span at the Championships. Setting with 9 total All-Americans, 184 has collected 1-1st, 1-2nd, 3-5th, 1-6th, 2-7th, and 1-8th place medals. The lone Champion at 184 goes by the name of Max Askren (2010), a 3x All-American, knocking off the #11, #3, #7, and #1 seeded wrestlers. The last medal seen at 184 was a sixth-place finish by Willie Miklus during the 2016 season.
Setting at fourth in our all-time rankings is the 165lbs weight class. At 165, we dipped into the double digits for the first time with 11 All-American finishes which includes: 1-1st, 3-3rd, 1-4th, 1-6th, 3-7th, and 2 8th place medals. Out of the 11 medalists, four of them belong to the multi-AA club. Our first medal at 165 belongs to Greg Warren, the most comedic man to walk the mats at Mizzou. During the 1991 season, Warren claimed a 7th place medal while going 3-2. Topping out the class is currently rostered and 2x All-American Keegan O’Toole, O’Toole recently capped off his 2022 campaign with an individual title while knocking off #31, #18, #7, #6, and #5 Seeded wrestlers.
Coming in at the three-spot, we have the 197lbs weight class. The 197-weight class carries the top winning percentage (.587) in the tournament over the past years with a 67-47 overall record with its first podium finish coming in 1985 by Mark Cody. While being in the three-hole may come as a surprise to some, if you take the accolades of J’den Cox (3x NCAA Champ, 4x AA) out, your top finish is 4th place by most recent All-American Rocky Elam during the 2022 NCAA Championships. Falling in behind Cox and Elam’s top honors, 197 carries eight more All-American finishes with 4-5th, 1-6th, 1-7th, and 2-8th place medals. Out of the past twenty-one years, Mizzou has sent a 197lbs wrestler to the NCAAs eighteen times!
Inching closer to the top spot we hit the 149lbs weight class. While they come with the 5th best win percentage, this weight class is responsible for more medals and better overall finishes at the NCAA Championship. With a 68-59 record (.535), 149 is responsible for 12 total All-Americans: 1-1st, 1-2nd, 1-3rd, 1-4th, 3-5th, and 5-6th. With the first medal not coming until 1992 by Kenny Liddell (2x All-American), 149 has accounted for eight All-American finishes and two separate finalists in the past ten years. The top finish at 149 came by Missouri’s own true son and 3x All-American Drake Houdashelt in 2015. En route to a championship finish, he successfully knocked off the #8, #5, and #3 seeded wrestlers.
After having a tough time placing two through four, there was a clear-cut front runner to wrap this up, the 174lbs weight class. This weight class goes hand in hand with one of the best wrestlers to step foot on campus at Mizzou. Claiming the rights to 174 is Mizzou wrestling icon Ben Askren, the owner of two individual championships, four trips to the finals, and the Tiger’s lone Hodge Trophy Winner. While Askren accounts for a portion of this class, he isn’t the only reason for putting it at the top. With an 85-61 (.582) record, 174lbs leads the Tigers in all statistical categories throughout NCAA Championship history at Mizzou. It is the location of the first All-American at Mizzou (Von Robbins), seven different medalists, and out of the 12 All-American medals, only 2 were worse than 4th place. It accounts for 2-1st, 3-2nd, 3-3rd, 2-4th, 1-5th, and 1-7th place medals.
Mizzou wrestling has been an exciting team to watch over the years and they continue to push the boundaries of becoming the next top dog in the NCAA wrestling world. Many of these weights can be flipped and flopped in multiple orders but this is the way I chose to take it. Below is the final chart of the article with all the numbers in one place!
Overall All-American Stats