The enthusiasm and intensity that consumed the Scottrade Center on Friday night lacked during Saturday’s morning session, especially for those wearing black and gold singlets at the NCAA wrestling championships.
After they each won two matches in Missouri’s 7-0 nightcap on Friday, freshman 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman and sophomore 165-pounder Daniel Lewis lost their opening matches on Saturday.
Eierman, a Columbia native, won his second match of the morning to place fifth, while the Blue Springs native Lewis fell and finished sixth.
“I feel really good (about the tournament),” Eierman said. “I obviously didn’t do what I wanted to do and that was to win a national title, but finishing on top and taking fifth was the next best thing after losing.”
Both wrestlers earned All-American honors with their wins Friday morning. Eierman called it a “dream come true” and Lewis became the 20th Tiger ever to be named All-American multiple times.
Missouri coach Brian Smith provided a glimpse into the future this week with a team of Lewis, Eierman and Missouri junior 157-pounder Joey Lavallee, who will compete in Saturday night’s finals. They will lead with seniors J’den Cox and Lavion Mayes, both also in the finals, departing.
“One of the the things we take pride of, our staff and our program, is that we develop leadership,” Smith said. “... There’s a lot of guys coming back.”
Eierman was able to put together a comeback match after his initial loss to Wyoming junior Bryce Meredith. Against Rutgers junior Anthony Ashnault, Eierman won 4-2.
Like his first match that he lost to Wisconsin senior Issac Jordan 8-1, Lewis struggled out of the gates in his closing match against Oklahoma State freshman. Thanks to a second period takedown, Lewis was able to tie but he ultimately fell 9-6.
Eierman said that process or earning a better finish next year will begin this week.
“I just got to get better,” Eierman said. “... Next year, I’m going to be a different animal.”