If nothing else came out of Saturday’s Big 12 Championships, Missouri at least picked up about 5,000 new fans. At least, for a few minutes.
Going into the final match between Iowa State’s David Zabriskie, ranked No. 1 in the country, and Missouri junior Mark Ellis, ranked No. 2, fans from Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all united in the "MIZ-ZOU" chant to try and fire up Ellis.
If Ellis defeated Zabriskie, then Nebraska, not heavy-favorite Iowa State, would walk away with the Big 12 title. Unfortunately for all of the fans except the small pocket from Iowa State supporters, Ellis was unable to defeat Zabriskie, losing 3-1.
Missouri finished third in the five-team tournament, behind an Iowa State and Nebraska tie for first place.
Junior Nick Marable won his second straight Big 12 title by defeating Nebraska’s Stephen Dwyer 3-1 in overtime. After a Marable takedown at the end of the third period was waved off, he wasted no time in overtime, shooting immediately and taking Dwyer to the mat for the win.
“He’s got to be breaking eventually,” Marable said. “I’ve beaten him four times now so he’s just got to be like ‘hey.’ I love wrestling in these big environments because I love shutting up these crowds, they’re sitting there screaming and then I do something well and they can’t do anything but be quiet.”
Sophomore Todd Schavrien, seeded No. 5, came up huge for Missouri by finishing in third and qualifying for nationals.
After losing to Nebraska’s Matt Vacanti 7-2 during the pigtail round of the Big 12 Championships, the future did not look bright for Schavrien. Unless Schavrien could upset Oklahoma’s Brian Shelton and get revenge against Vacanti, than his season would be over.
First up was Shelton, which Schavrien was able to control most of the match to earn a 5-3 victory. That set up a rematch against Vacanti. Schavrien earned an escape in the third period to get a one-point lead and Vacanti threw shot after shot against him, but was unable to score. Schavrien a 3-2 win and a secured spot at the NCAA Tournament.
“After my first match (with Vacanti), I was a little upset and had to do a little soul searching,” Schavrien said. “I put a little too much pressure on myself to win instead of just going and having fun wrestling and trusting God to lead me in the right direction.”
Senior Marcus Hoehn won his first Big 12 title by defeating Iowa State’s Nick Gallick 2-1 in double overtime.
“He doesn’t have the offense to score off of me,” Hoehn said. “I know it and I’m pretty sure he knows it now.”
Hoehn split matches with Gallick previously in the season, losing in the first dual 4-2, but beating him on 4-3 in overtime on Feb. 15. Gallick was warned for stalling twice, and the second one gave Hoehn a point and the victory.
“Some people said that it was a fluke that he beat Gallick last time,” Smith said. “He stuck with his game plan this match. Marcus has been wrestling great at the end of the season, so he’s going into NCAA’s with a lot of confidence, and that’s important.”
In addition to Schavrien, Hoehn and Marable, juniors Ellis and Max Askren, and seniors Michael Chandler and Raymond Jordan all qualified for the NCAA Tournament, which will held March 19-21.