Cox defeated, Missouri falters at NCAA National Championship

Cox was 36-0 on the season before losing to Snyder.

ST. LOUIS — The last time sophomore J’den Cox lost a match, he felt like he needed to escape. After rushing into the team locker room, he found solace underneath a table. There, alone in the dark, he remembered it was only a exhibition match.

Today was not an exhibition. There’s no hiding from this one.

Sophomore No. 1 J’den Cox was defeated by Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder in the semifinal round of the NCAA National Championships in St. Louis.

Missouri is in fifth place in the team standings with 60.0 points after the second day of the tournament. Ohio State leads with 86.5 and Iowa is in second with 69.5.

Cox sat alone in the bowels of Scottrade Center 15 minutes before his match with Snyder. He’s usually relaxed, chatting with teammates before even his more significant duals, but today Cox chose solitude over camaraderie. When he walked out of the tunnel, he was alone. When he paced aside the mat waiting for the PA announcer to call his name, he was alone. When he took center stage in front of a crowd of 18,761 raucous fans, he was alone.

Then the whistle blew.

Snyder scored a takedown very early in the match, driving Cox to the edge of the mat and pulling his leg out from under him.

“You’re one takedown away,” Cox said of the loss. “If I don’t give up that takedown I don’t lose the match.”

Cox fired back with an escape off the reset, and seemed to regain some momentum, nearly scoring a takedown with 1:30 left in the first period. Snyder was able to fend off several shots from Cox though, and went into the second period up one.

Cox leveled the score when he scored an escape off the start at the beginning of the second period. Cox needed to take a break after Snyder appeared to gouge him in the eye with 1:20 left in the second period. He recovered quickly though, and the two wrestlers went back and forth without a score, ending the second period even.

Snyder stole Cox’s chance at a second consecutive NCAA Championship with an escape off the start at the beginning of the third period. The match was reset after Cox drove Snyder off the mat with six seconds left, but Cox didn’t attempt another shot. He was defeated.

“For me to see it, that’s awful,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said. “To have your first loss in the NCAA semifinals, that’s not fun.”

Cox maintained positivity and perspective after the match.

“Not winning a national championship is not going to make me a failure,” he said. “Not having fun loving what I’m doing makes me a failure.”

Missouri heads into the final day of the NCAA Championships with only one of their 10 qualifiers still in the winners bracket.

Smith is looking ahead to tomorrow.

“Right now, we have to get some more points and try to get a team title,” Smith said.

Senior No. 1 Drake Houdashelt will wrestle Edinboro’s David Habat in the final round at 7 p.m. tomorrow. It will be Houdashelt’s first appearance in an NCAA Championship final and his last match as a Tiger.

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