Missouri wrestling has started the season with a perfect 5-0 start, but the No. 7 squad has also secured its future with the second-best recruiting class in the country.
On Nov. 15, the official signing day for college wrestling, Missouri brought in six new recruits, including Columbia native J’Den Cox. The Hickman High School senior is ranked third in the nation among recruits.
“He has a bright future and is probably the highest-ranked recruit we have ever brought in,” coach Brian Smith said. “His goal isn't just to be a great wrestler, but he wants to win multiple national titles, make an Olympic team and win a gold medal. Our program has what it takes to get him there."
Cox and the other five recruits have had their share of success at the high school level, each winning multiple state titles.
Smith said he likes not only their success on the floor but also how they fit into the program.
“The thing we feel comfortable with is that these men believe in what `Tiger Style' is about, from the academics side to what we do off the mat and in the community,” Smith said. “They really like that stuff, and they also understand that it is a big commitment in the way we train. And the great thing is they've all already bought into our philosophy.”
On the mat, the Tigers are off to a perfect start. In duels, the team has been nearly perfect, losing just a handful of matches. The Tigers won 69 straight points in duel meets from the Purdue duel Nov. 10 to the South Dakota State matchup last Saturday. Four of the 10 starting Tiger wrestlers have undefeated records.
Senior heavyweight Dom Bradley has picked up where he left off after the 2010-11 season, starting out 10-0 and being named the Mid-American Conference Wrestler of the Week on Nov. 21.
Along with the success of the nine returning NCAA qualifiers, other wrestlers on the team have been making an impact. Todd Porter, a 174-pound fifth-year senior, has been able to fill the spot of Dorian Henderson, who graduated last year. Porter has a 7-1 record and is ranked 16th in his weight class.
Trevor Jauch, a 141-pound redshirt freshman, came out strong in the team’s duel versus South Dakota State, winning with a pin one minute 35 seconds into the match. Jauch is currently 12-0 and has wrestled behind senior Nicholas Hucke for most of the season.
"I've been believing in my teachings," Jauch said about his hot start. "I have the confidence that I can pin anyone I wrestle."
The Tigers’ next meet will be Friday. The team will go to the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational for a two-day tournament.
Zach Toal, a 165-pound junior, said he has been looking forward to this tournament.
“Vegas will be a tough tournament,” Toal said. “It always is.”