Tigers continue success into 2012-2013 season

The Missouri wrestling team tied a school record with five All-Americans, winning the MAC Championship and Smith winning MAC Coach of the Year.

After winning the Big 12 Tournament last year on their home mat, expectations were high for this year’s Missouri wrestling team.

The Tigers came into the season seventh in the preseason rankings, and returned nine wrestlers from last year’s team, all of which qualified for the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The team failed to disappoint, finishing seventh at the NCAA Championships in March and tying a school record with five All-Americans.

This season, the Tigers glided through their regular schedule, only dropping two dual meets. On Feb. 22, Missouri headed to the NWCA Cliff Keen National Duals and won two out of three matches, including a win over No. 2 Iowa.

On Mar. 10, Missouri headed to the Mid-American conference for the first time since joining last fall. The Tigers took little time to establish themselves as a power in the MAC by winning their conference for a second consecutive season. Missouri was also able to qualify all 10 wrestlers for the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive season.

Senior heavyweight Dom Bradley and junior 125-pounder Alan Waters were the Tigers’ top-seeded wrestlers heading into the NCAA tournament and the Tigers' best wrestlers all season. The two grapplers combined for one loss during the regular season.

As No. 1 seeds, Waters and Bradley made their runs through the championship bracket, all the way to the semi-finals, but they were not the only Missouri wrestlers to make a run. Sophomore 149-pounder Drake Houdashelt, unseeded going into the tournament, defeated two ranked wrestlers on his way to a fourth-place finish. This was an improvement on last year’s tournament, in which Houdashelt was eliminated after losing both of his matches.

Both Bradley and Waters fell in overtime in their semifinal matches. Bradley lost in the semifinals for the second time in his career and Waters lost his chance at a perfect season. The two wrestlers fell to fourth place and were All-Americans along with Houdashelt.

Senior 133-pounder Nathan McCormick and senior 184-pounder Mike Larson also qualified as All-Americans with eighth place finishes. Each qualified after winning four matches in their respective consolation brackets. This was the most All-Americans for Missouri since the 2009 NCAA Championships.

Along with the All-Americans and top 10 finish at the NCAA tournament, coach Brian Smith was honored as MAC Coach of the Year, after he was honored as Big 12 Coach of the Year last season.

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