Countdown to wrestling, part two: How to watch a Mizzou wrestling meet

In this second installment of the preseason wrestling series, we explain scoring in match play and dual meets.
Missouri Tigers wrestler J'den Cox attempts a takedown against Duke's Conner Hartmann Saturday, March 21, 2015, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Maneater File Photo

Countdown to wrestling Part two: How to watch a Mizzou wrestling meet and know what’s going on

It’s no secret that Mizzou has become a wrestling powerhouse. The Tigers have consistently put out some of the best teams and individual competitors in the sport in recent years, dominating the Mid-American Conference every year since joining for the 2013 season. But wrestling can be a hard sport to understand at times. Follow The Maneater’s “Countdown to Wrestling” series for features, player and coach profiles and even explanations for new wrestling fans in the months leading up to the 2017-18 season.

University of Missouri students packed the stands at Faurot Field on Saturday to watch as Mizzou football was defeated by South Carolina. While the poor quality of play may have made the game difficult for some to watch, basic unfamiliarity with the game of football was probably not prohibitive of many fans’ viewing experiences.

The opposite might be said for wrestling.

Mizzou’s wrestling program should remain one of the best in the nation after finishing last season ranked 10th in the USA Today/NWCA Coaches poll. There’s no doubt the team itself will be fun to watch, but the common unfamiliarity with the sport’s complex scoring procedures might make it a little hard to follow. For Mizzou wrestling fans who want to better understand what they’re watching, here’s a guide to dual meet scoring in the NCAA.

Except for a few tournaments with more than two participating teams, most meets will be between Mizzou and one opposing school. This is called a dual meet. These will be comprised of 10 individual matches, one per weight class. Results in these matches will determine team points that go toward the meet’s final score, but it’s important to understand both individual and team scoring.

The objective of a match is to earn a decision by pinning an opponent with both shoulder blades on the mat for two seconds, in what’s called a fall. Consider it like a KO in boxing: though wrestling matches are a total of seven minutes across three periods, a fall can decisively end the match, regardless of score, at any point.

A technical fall — when one wrestler leads by 15 points even without having pinned their opponent — will also automatically bring the match to an end.

There are several ways to earn points in a match. The most common is a takedown, when a wrestler brings their opponent down to the mat for two points. However, one point can also be rewarded for an escape, when a wrestler is controlled on the mat but then gets away or fights back into the standard wrestling position, known as the neutral position.

Another means of scoring in a match is a reversal, which essentially takes an escape one step further; rather than just getting away to the neutral position, a wrestler escapes the mat then promptly takes control of their opponent for two points.

Between two and four points can also be rewarded for a near fall, which occurs when a wrestler gains control over his opponent in a pinning situation for a long enough time. If a wrestler’s head or shoulder is held to the mat while the other shoulder is within four inches of or at a 45 degree angle to the mat, the referee begins counting.

Maintaining the near fall for two seconds earns two points, while as of an NCAA rule change a year ago, four seconds is worth four points. Prior to the rule change, only three points were given for a five-second near fall, making it more difficult to earn just one extra point. The modification was made effective because it “promotes aggressive wrestling and is more exciting to watch,” according to the NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee.

The last way to score is a bit more abstract and kept track of throughout the course of the match. Time advantage, also known as riding time, is counted for each wrestler during the time that they control their opponent in a certain position given that escapes and reversals are prevented. If either competitor has at least one minute more of riding time than his opponent at the end of three periods, he is given an extra point.

If there is no fall or technical fall, then through these scoring methods, the wrestler with more points after three periods (or after a one-minute overtime in the case of a tie) wins the match and earns his team a decision. Different match results contribute to different team scoring, though.

A win by fall is worth six team points, as is a victory via forfeit, default or disqualification. If a wrestler achieves the sort of mercy rule that is a technical fall, five team points are rewarded. When a wrestler wins his match by a margin of eight to 14 points, it’s a major decision worth four points for his team. Any margin of victory fewer than eight points is a decision worth three team points. The team that accumulates a higher score across the 10 matches wins the meet.

Now, watching Mizzou wrestling at Hearnes Center this season will hopefully be a little easier. After all, when watching a top-10 team in the country, it doesn’t hurt to know what’s going on in the sport.

Edited by Joe Noser |

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