The Missouri wrestling team grappled inside the Hearnes Center for the last time this season at the NWCA Cliff Keen Midwest Regional Duals. The No. 6 Tigers won both of their duals and will head to the University of Minnesota next weekend to compete for the National Duals championship.
Missouri opened the day with Maryland and made quick work of the Terrapins. Senior 133-pounder Nathan McCormick, ranked No. 5 in his weight class, got a key win over Maryland’s Geoffrey Alexander, ranked No. 12.
“He went out today and pretty much dominated and I liked that,” coach Brian Smith said. “He’s been just very consistent all year.”
After winning the first six matches of the dual, the Tigers’ first loss of the match came at 174 pounds when senior Todd Porter fell to Maryland’s Josh Asper after a late takedown. Asper is ranked No. 5 in his weight class and broke Porter’s eight-match winning streak.
Despite two more losses at 184 and 197, the Tigers cruised to a 27-13 victory.
The final match of the day versus No. 16 Purdue proved to be just as decisive, with Missouri winning 27-15. Junior 125-pounder Alan Waters started off the match with his second win by major decision of the day and is looking closer to full strength after missing nearly a month with an injury.
“I think I’m feeling a lot better this week,” Waters said. “I’m just still working on getting back into my flow and getting everything together.”
Sophomore Drake Houdashelt picked up his second win of the day, 20-5, by technical fall, getting the Tigers more bonus points. Houdashelt has had 10 major decisions this season.
“Houdashelt keeps doing the job,” Smith said. “He’s running through people.”
Senior 197-pounder Brent Haynes had a tough day on the mat. He was pinned in both of his matches on Sunday.
“I’m frustrated for him, but he made mistakes,” Smith said. “He was winning both of those matches and just makes mistakes. He gets caught on his back and he can’t do that. He’s got to bounce back.”
In his final home match, senior heavyweight Dom Bradley finished off the day with a 21-7 rout over Purdue’s Alex White. Bradley is a perfect 30-0 on the season and finished his Missouri career never losing a match at the Hearnes Center. His only loss inside the stadium was when he was as a freshman at Blue Springs High School.
“Once I committed here, I said I never wanted to lose here,” Bradley said. “I made sure it happened. You don’t want to lose at home. You don’t want to lose in front of your family and friends. You want to represent your state to the fullest.”
The Tigers head to the finals next week and will take on seven other teams, all ranked in the Top 10 of the Coaches’ Poll. After this weekend, the only tournaments remaining for Missouri are the MAC Championships in Buffalo, N.Y., and the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
“This is the start,” Smith said. “We’re going to have to win one on Friday night and two on Saturday. We’re going there to win it.”