A little over two weeks ago, Norman, Okla., was the site of disappointment for the Missouri wrestling team.
Against the now 14th-ranked Sooners, the No. 7 Tigers faltered and ultimately fell 24-18. The loss was the second of the year for a Missouri team that only lost twice during the entire 2015-16 season.
The loss to Oklahoma was a rude awakening at the beginning of a four-match road trip.
Three matches and three victories later — against Buffalo, No. 9 Cornell and Central Michigan — Missouri returns home to the Hearnes Center and gets another crack at the state of Oklahoma.
This time, though it will be against No. 1 Oklahoma State — at 7 p.m. on Friday. The series between the Tigers and Cowboys dates back to 1929.
The goal for Missouri in the 49th matchup in the series?
“Win,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said Thursday, “and (let’s) not get wowed by the moment, but (let’s) wow the moment.”
Oklahoma State holds a massive lead in the series with a record of 41-6-1 against Missouri, including a 15-2-1 mark in Columbia.
The last time the Cowboys traveled to Columbia (2015), though, the Tigers came through with a 22-10 victory.
Missouri senior J’den Cox remembers that match well, as he does the Tigers’ 23-9 loss in Stillwater last season.
Cox, though, is focusing on the current task at hand.
“It’s just another dual. It’s just another team coming into our house,” Cox said. “... I’m just ready to go to be honest with you. ... I’m feeling fresh, I’m feeling great and I’m just ready to rock and roll.”
Smith has seen his team’s rock star in Cox take a unique approach as his wrestling career at Mizzou winds down. Cox has only four home matches left.
“He can kind of see the end, and he’s not looking at it like, ‘Man, I don’t want this to end.’ He’s embracing that like, ‘Wow, this is the end, I want to perform at my highest level,’ ” Smith said of Cox, who was won two national championships at 197 pounds.
Sophomore 165-pounder Daniel Lewis, who was the 2016 Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year, and freshman 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman have performed at very high levels this season.
Eierman has a record of 18-4 this season, which includes a 5-3 win in Missouri’s 24-8 victory against Central Michigan on Sunday. Lewis recorded a 17-0 victory, thanks to a first-period technical fall, against the Chippewas. It was Lewis’ fourth straight win, and he has won those four matches by a combined 58-0 score.
Strong performances on Friday from Lewis and Eierman would likely be crucial if Missouri is to beat Oklahoma State.
“That’s what it’s going to take (to beat Oklahoma State),” Smith said. “It’s going to be a great dual. There are some great matchups. … This will be a good learning experience to find out where (we’re) at.”