Missouri upset again, falls to 0-2 after loss to Illinois

Rodrigo Diaz lost a wild, dual-deciding match.

Rodrigo Diaz had a chance to steal a dual victory for Missouri, after his teammates lost multiple close matches throughout the evening at Francis Howell High School.

Instead, Diaz allowed a takedown to Illinois heavyweight Luke Luffman with less than a minute to go, giving Luffman a lead that he never relinquished. The Tigers (0-2, 0-0 Mid-American Conference) fell to the Fighting Illini (2-1, 0-0 BIG 10), 19-14.

The turning point of the dual came when Missouri’s previously undefeated 174-pound No. 8 Connor Flynn was upset in overtime by No. 18 Joey Gunther. Flynn never managed a takedown in the match, and the sudden-death ended with a single-leg shot from Gunther that was too quick for Flynn to defend.

Flynn’s loss gave Illinois a 12-11 advantage, which it built upon in the ensuing 184-pound weight class match. No. 20 Dylan Wisman, Missouri’s usual starter, didn’t wrestle due to a scheduled day off. His replacement, sophomore Canten Marriott, couldn’t handle No. 18 Zac Braunagel and was defeated by major decision.

Missouri fell behind early after its lightweights, sophomore Dack Punke and No. 25 Allan Hart lost their respective matches. They regained the lead after the next three bouts, beginning with No. 5 Grant Leeth’s major decision in his first match of the year.

Leeth, a 24-year-old junior due to two medical redshirts, donned his famed neck brace and defeated Illinois’ We Rachal 10-2. He was followed by No. 2 Brock Mauller remaining undefeated by major decision, as well as No. 14 Jarrett Jacques taking down a ranked opponent in No. 16 Eric Barone.

Missouri began its 2018-19 season with a 30-8 win over then-No. 17 Illinois, and presumably expected similar results against a now unranked Illini squad. The Illini have begun their season 0-2 for the first time since 2000, and have failed to start 2-0 for the first time since 2011.

The Tigers will look to get on the right track on Thursday when they’ll face Central Missouri and Missouri Valley College.

Edited by Wilson Moore | wmoore@themaneater.com

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