The Maneater

Austin Myers working to reach his full potential for Missouri wrestling

His performance will be a factor in determining how far the Tigers go this year.

Austin Myers smiles for his team picture. Courtesy of Mizzou Athletics

Redshirt freshman heavyweight Austin Myers transferred from West Virginia to Missouri this year to reach one goal: win a NCAA Championship.

“There is weight on my shoulders to win because I need to get to NCAA [Championships] and help our team win a national championship,” he said.

That “weight” Myers referred to is both literal and figurative. At 5-foot-11 and 285 pounds, Myers is a hulking presence wherever he goes. But he also has a figurative burden to bear, as his job is to provide Mizzou with a premier heavyweight who can qualify in March for nationals, something the program has been missing in recent years.

Myers is not without confidence. He went 189-0 in high school, capturing four Kentucky state championships in the 220-pound weight class and leading his alma mater, Campbell County High School, to a state championship in 2012. He was also ranked the No. 25 wrestler in the 2015 recruiting class by FloWrestling.

Even as a redshirt freshman, Myers believes he can make a difference. He also understands his high school accomplishments do not make him different from his teammates.

“I think I can be that missing piece that can get us to the next level at nationals,” he said. “A lot of us were great wrestlers in high school and have great accolades, so [winning] is kind of expected.”

Coach Brian Smith said that the addition of Myers rounds out his team.

“I really feel strongly that we have 10 real solid weight [classes],” Smith said. “[Austin] gives us some offense, and he’s looking great. I’m excited about having a solid heavyweight like him.”

Myers said one of the things that drew him to Mizzou was the opportunity to wrestle alongside an Olympian, senior J’den Cox. He felt primarily, however, that Mizzou’s program was more sincere than West Virginia’s about doing the work required to become national champions.

“West Virginia didn’t keep themselves to their goals, but here everyone wants to be great as an individual and [as] a team,” he said. “At West Virginia, they talked about it, but they weren’t about it.”

Smith said Myers’ intensity and desire to win have endeared him with his teammates from the start.

“He’s really fit in with our culture,” Smith said. “You just see it day after day; he’s feeling more relaxed around the team and enjoying himself more. He’s getting back to where he was in high school, where he was very successful.”

Cox said that although Myers has some endurance and technique issues to work on, he still has the potential to contribute at the highest level for the Tigers.

“He’s becoming the monster that we wanted him to be,” Cox said. “I know I say ‘monster,’ but he’s become the beast. We’ll continue to work with him and help him grow, but I believe he’s definitely going to be someone to reckon with.”

Myers is not intimidated by the weight he carries. He just wants to win.

“We all think we can become national champions,” Myers said. “That’s why we came to Missouri to wrestle.”

Langston Newsome contributed to this report.

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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