Missouri wins third straight conference wrestling title

03/09/2014 3:59 PM

03/09/2014 11:56 PM

Behind a pair of individual champions, Missouri rallied on the second day of the Mid-American Conference wrestling championships and edged Northern Iowa for a third straight conference title Saturday at Kent State University in Ohio.

The Tigers, who repeated as MAC champions on the heels of a Big 12 championship in 2012, trailed the Panthers by 7 1/2 points after the first day’s action.

But led by freshman J’den Cox and junior Drake Houdashelt, Missouri made up that stagger, finishing with 118.5 points for a 2 1/2-point victory ahead of Northern Iowa (116).

Cox, who improved to 33-2 and is ranked No. 4 in the NCAA rankings, struck gold at 197 pounds capping his title run with a 10-1 major decision against Ohio’s Phillip Wellington.

No. 2-ranked Houdashelt, 34-1, won the title at 149 with a 3-1 sudden victory against Old Dominion’s Alexander Richardson.

Heavyweight Devin Mellon, 24-10 and ranked 20th, a junior from Lawson, also reached the title bout before settling for silver after dropping a 7-1 decision against Ohio’s Jeremy Johnson.

Two other Missouri wrestlers finished third.

Freshman Joey LaVallee, 27-8 and ranked 10th, pinned Old Dominion’s Tristan Warner for the bronze at 157, while senior Zach Toal, 26-5 and ranked 11th, topped Northern Illinois’ Shaun’Que McMurty 6-3 in the third-place bout at 165.

Five other Tigers also placed — including freshman Lavion Mayes, 23-11 and ranked 16th, who claimed fourth at 141.

Junior Mike England, 19-14 and ranked 29th, and sophomore Cody Johnston, 20-10, claimed fifth place at 174 and 184, respectively.

Finally, freshmen Barlow McGhee, 21-11 and ranked 23rd, and Matt Manley, 23-14 and ranked 18th, wound up sixth at 125 and 133, respectively.

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