DES MOINES, Iowa — Missouri began day one of the NCAA wrestling championships with a full lineup. Each of the 10 Tigers remain alive after Thursday’s evening session with four still in contention for individual golds.
By CODY GOODWIN
Special to The Star
“We talked about that in the room before we left. We need all 10 to come through for us,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said. “It’s for themselves, and the team. We need to get 10 people scoring points.”
Missouri capped the first day in a tie for six. The 10 wrestlers produced 14.5 points — first-place Penn State has 32.5.
Missouri 125-pounder Alan Waters, the top seed in his weight-class, kept his undefeated record intact on Thursday with two victories. Waters, a Park Hill graduate, defeated Minnesota’s David Thorn 5-2 before knocking off Michigan’s Sean Boyle in the second round..
Team captain Nathan McCormick, Missouri’s sixth-seeded 133-pounder, collected two wins, reaching the quarterfinals. McCormick also contributed to the team score with an 11-1 major-decision in the second round — an additional team point was earned because of McCormick’s margin of victory.
Perhaps that is the reason Missouri lags behind in the team standings. The Tigers produced just two bonus-point victories among 14 total wins, which help on the scoreboard. The teams atop the standings garnered pins, major decisions, and technical falls to help add more team points.
“We’re not getting a lot of bonus points,” Smith said. “We’re wearing a hardhat and bringing a lunch pail. We’re doing it the hard way.”
Early in the tournament, MU 157-pounder Kyle Bradley produced perhaps one of the biggest upsets when he outlasted Nebraska’s James Green, the No. 4 seed, winning 6-5 in a marathon match.
MU 149-pounder Drake Houdashelt beat two seeded wrestlers en route to the quarterfinals — one of which was a 5-2 victory over Minnesota’s Dylan Ness, a 2013 Big Ten champion at the weight.
The nation’s top-seeded heavyweight, Missouri’s Dom Bradley, is also in the quarterfinals. He said that even the Tigers who fell to the consolation brackets remain dangerous to score points.
“We’re just taking it one match at a time. One win after one win,” he said. “We’re just going to go out there and keep doing what Mizzou does.”