Despite tough losses, Larson maintains the will to improve

The senior's will to improve has been an integral point of success for the wrestling team.

Mike Larson dreams of being a Navy SEAL.

The ninth-ranked 184-pound senior has big aspirations for what he wants to do after college, but before he can start his life in the real world, he dreams to bring the gold of an NCAA Championship to the No. 6 Tigers.

His journey to the tournament continues this weekend when the Tigers travel to the University of Northern Iowa on Saturday. Larson will be facing off against No. 6 Ryan Loder. The two matched up back in November at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, a match Larson won 3-2.

"It would be really nice to beat him again," Larson said.

Larson and Loder wrestled each other as high schoolers in California, and they have known each other for a while, Larson said.

A win this week could help Larson bounce back after being thrashed last weekend by No. 2 Ben Bennett from Central Michigan University.

"It was a learning experience," Larson said. "Luckily it was not in March. It's kind of a free loss."

Larson is a three-year starter for the Tigers and transferred to Missouri from California State University-Bakersfield after the school shut the wrestling program down. Smith said Larson knows he isn’t the best wrestler, but that’s what drives him to work harder.

"There is a tendency for some guys not to want to work out with Mike because they know that if you go with Mike then its gonna be a tough day," Smith said. "That's what makes him great."

Smith said Larson works hard in every situation and that he goes at 100 mph at all times.

"He knows that he is pretty good, but he's got to get a lot better, " Smith said.

Smith said due to Larson's personality and work ethic, Larson is interested in the Navy SEALs because of how hard they work, the intensity of the lifestyle and the intelligence aspect of the job.

"He is willing to basically run through walls, but he will figure out the best way to run through the wall," Smith said.

This season, in which Larson has a 20-6 record, he has already hit some walls. Those walls take the form of the five top 10 opponents Larson has faced. Five of his losses have come from matches against top ranked wrestlers, including No. 1 Ed Ruth from Penn State. His highest placing at a tournament was second at Cliff Keen.

Larson's senior season as a Tiger has many high points as well. Of his 20 wins, three have been won on technical falls or pins.

"I like throwing people,” Larson said. “It ends matches quickly and it is always a good show for the crowd.”

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