Campus Corner

Mizzou snags first regular-season wrestling crown

Undefeated and second-ranked Missouri won the first regular-season wrestling championship in program history Sunday with a victory at Eastern Michigan.
Undefeated and second-ranked Missouri won the first regular-season wrestling championship in program history Sunday with a victory at Eastern Michigan. University of Missouri

Missouri wrestling claimed the first regular-season championship in program history Sunday with a 31-7 victory at Eastern Michigan.

Coach Brian Smith’s Tigers, who have won 24 consecutive duals dating back to last season, swept the Mid-American Conference, going 8-0 after also beating Buffalo on Friday.

Missouri — which has won three straight conference tournament championships, including a Big 12 title in 2012 and back-to-back Mid-American Conference titles — are ranked No. 2 in the nation and boast a 20-0 overall dual record.

Seeking a fourth straight crown, the Tigers host the MAC Championships on March 7-8 at the Hearnes Center in Columbia. The SEC does not sponsor wrestling.

Missouri’s 20 dual victories breaks the program’s single-season record of 18 wins, which had been shared by the 1967-68, 2001-02 and 2008-09 teams.

The Tigers won eight of 10 matches against Eastern Michigan, including pins by senior 149-pounder Drake Houdashelt and senior 174-pounder Johnny Eblen.

Senior heavyweight Devin Mellon also earned team bonus points with a major decision.

Two days earlier in Buffalo, N.Y., Missouri cruised 43-6 and won all nine matches that were contested.

Buffalo’s only points came by forfeit at 133 pounds.

The Tigers picked up four wins by fall — sophomore Cole Baumgartner at 141 pounds, junior Le’Roy Barnes at 149, junior Cody Johnston at 174 and freshman Willie Miklus at 184.

Reigning national champion and top-ranked J’den Cox, a sophomore, claimed a technical fall at 197, while Mellon and sophomore 157-pounder Joey Lavallee won by major decision.

Cox is among eight Tigers who are nationally ranked by InterMat — including second-ranked senior Alan Waters (125 pounds), fifth-ranked sophomore Lavion Mayes (141), Houdashelt (fifth at 149), Lavallee (ninth at 157), Eblen (fifth at 174), Miklus (14th at 184), and Mellon (16th at heavyweight).

As a team, Missouri is ranked No. 2 in the country in the USA Today/National Wrestling Coaches Association poll behind only Iowa.

The Hawkeyes host the 32-team National Duals Tournament, which begin next weekend with first-round battles on campus sites.

Missouri hosts American in the opening round at noon Feb. 15 at the Hearnes Center. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children.

The National Duals quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will be the following weekend at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The Big Ten Network will televise the semifinals at 3 p.m. Feb. 21 and the finals at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 22.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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