Campus Corner

Mizzou’s Lavion Mayes fights back for third place at NCAA nationals

Missouri junior 149-pounder Lavion Mayes took a victory lap around the mat two ring Saturday morning at Madison Square Garden.

It’s was part joyful romp and part one-man search party.

“It felt good,” Mayes said. “I didn’t know where the Mizzou fans were and then I forgot to do (junior 141-pounder Matt) Manley’s celebration in honor of Manley coming to wrestle for us, needing surgery on his knee. I wanted to do that, but I forgot with the emotions rushing through my mind.”

Mayes, 32-3, had just finished third at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships with a 3-2 decision against Oklahoma State’s Anthony Collica, avenging a quarterfinal loss from a day earlier.

Mayes, who was seeded third, is a two-time All-American after finishing seventh at 141 last season.

Mayes intended to honor Manley, who entered as the No. 5 seed at 141 but lost both his matches wrestling on one leg. He’ll have surgery to repair ligaments in his right knee after the season.

“He does the box-and-arrow — Katniss, ‘Hunger Games,’” Mayes said. “He kind of got unlucky here at the end of the season.”

Missouri had two other wrestlers place Saturday morning during the medal round in front of a crowd of 19,147 — the third consecutive sold-out session at Madison Square Garden.

Redshirt freshman 165-pounder Daniel Lewis finished fourth and sophomore 184-pounder Willie Miklus finished sixth.

Lewis, who entered as the No. 4 seed, went back and forth with third-seeded Bo Jordan of Ohio State in the third-place match before dropping a 9-7 decision.

“It’s bittersweet, knowing that I did well and did what I was projected to do, but I’m not much for projections,” Lewis said. “I’m near the top, but finalist is a little bit sweeter. We’ve got some work to do for next year to set the bar even higher.”

Lewis, 29-6, plans to finish better than fourth each of the next three seasons now that the bar has been set.

“This should be beaten every time from here on out for me,” Lewis said. “I don’t expect anything less than finalist/national champion next year. This was a good start.”

Finally, Miklus, 21-8, dropped both matches during the medal round, including a 4-2 decision against ninth-seeded Mathew Miller of Navy in the fifth-place bout.

Of course, Miklus, who entered as the No. 14 seed, still far outpaced his pre-tourney seeding.

Missouri, which has junior 197-pounder J’den Cox still to wrestle in Saturday night’s final, sits in sixth place as a team. The Tigers are likely locked into that spot.

“We had a couple guys lose close matches and didn’t make it where they wanted to be or should have been,” Mayes said. “But our three returning All-Americans came back and showed we still have it in us. Daniel Lewis also stepped up as a freshman. We’re proud of that and next year’s team is going to be hopefully a lot stronger.”

Mayes reached the third-place with a first-period pin against the fifth seed, Michigan’s Alec Pantaleo.

Pantaleo jumped in front with a takedown and two back points, but Mayes scored a reversal and put the match away with a pin in only 2:49.

Lewis also advanced to third-place match by fall, pinning sixth-seeded Steven Rodrigues of Illinois in 3:50.

Miklus lost his consolation semifinal against eighth-seeded Nolan Boyd of Oklahoma State 6-0.

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer