Missouri wrestling just misses upset, falls to No. 1 Oklahoma State 20-16

The Tigers saw impressive efforts across the board, but fell to 9-3 on the season.

Mizzou head coach Brian Smith celebrates from the side of the mat during a home meet facing Oklahoma State.

After clawing back from an early 11-0 deficit to tie its contest against the No. 1 Oklahoma State Cowboys 16-16, the No. 7 Missouri Tigers entered the last match of a dual meet on Friday night at Hearnes Center with a chance to come away with a major upset.

However, such an upset was not in the cards, as redshirt freshman heavyweight Austin Myers lost his match 9-1 to No. 6 senior Austin Schafer, and the Cowboys escaped with a 20-16 victory.

Oklahoma State improved to 9-0, while Missouri fell to 9-3 on the season.

Missouri coach Brian Smith said his team fought well but still has room to improve.

“I’m really proud of my team [in terms of] the way they competed because [Oklahoma State] is a great team, but that’s what separates the great and we’ve got to get to that point,” he said.

Early in the dual meet, it did not appear the Tigers were going to have even the faintest chance of beating the Cowboys, who entered Friday’s meet with all 10 of its starting wrestlers ranked in the top 10 of their respective weight classes. But a 9-7 decision victory for redshirt senior 149-pounder Lavion Mayes over No. 2 Anthony Collica gave Mizzou its first team points of the day and restored energy to the announced crowd of 2,509.

Mayes said he is comfortable with being the wrestler Missouri looks to when they need to turn a match around.

“I always go out there and know that if things ahead of me aren’t so good, I know I can be the change,” he said. “Today was just another one of those days.”

Mayes’ victory set the stage for redshirt junior Joey Lavallee, who picked up two huge takedowns in the third period of his 157-pounder match to pick up a 5-1 decision and make the score 11-6. Then came redshirt sophomore Daniel Lewis in the 165-pounder match, who had arguably the most exciting match of the night.

No. 4 Lewis entered the match riding a streak of four straight victories with a combined score of 48-0, but he needed more heroics Friday night to secure a victory over No. 6 redshirt sophomore Chandler Rogers. Lewis was able to score a dramatic takedown with two seconds left in the third period to secure an 11-10 victory and keep the momentum for Missouri.

Lewis said it was good to get the late takedown for his team.

“Coach has been saying all year [that] I needed to be working on those third-period takedowns, so I’ve just been working hard on it and it paid off,” he said. “There are other things in the match that need to be improved on, but that was a really good step in the right direction.”

Lewis’ victory was not the most dramatic of the night, however. Through a patient wrestling style and great discipline to not give his opponent any chance to take his legs out from under him, redshirt freshman Dylan Wisman picked up a huge upset victory in a 4-1 decision over No. 8 senior Kyle Crutchmer.

Wisman’s victory gave the Tigers their only lead of the night and earned him praise from his coach.

“[Wisman’s win] was big time,” Smith said. “You couldn’t ask for more out of a freshman to go compete in that environment and get the win. I’m really proud of him, but he’s got to continue forward.”

Following a technical fall loss in the 184-pound weight class, senior J’Den Cox entered his 197-pounder dual needing at least a major decision victory to give the Tigers a tie or the lead.

Cox was kept in check through much of the first and second periods, but was able to pick up a takedown and stall point in the second to take a three-point lead into the third. He then found another gear, scoring two takedowns and multiple stalls to pick up a 12-2 major decision.

Cox said he was happy with how his match went and was impressed with the support his team received from the fans.

“I was proud of the performance,” he said. “That environment and crowd brings a whole other beast out of you. I wish that every event could be as packed as today was and everyone would come and support us like that because it brings a lot out of you.”

Coach Smith said he wasn’t interested in any moral victories that could be taken from Friday night’s dual meet, but he was nonetheless happy with his team’s effort.

“I hate to lose, so it hurts,” he said. “[But] I saw unbelievable fight out of our kids and they competed, so I was proud of that.” The Tigers’ next meet comes against Northern Illinois next weekend on Saturday, Feb. 4 at Hearnes Center.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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