Missouri wrestling taking positives out of loss to OSU

Coach Brian Smith was optimistic despite the loss, reflecting on the match between two heavyweights of college wrestling.
No. 13 Jarrett Jacques has top position on Wyatt Sheets during the 157 dual of the Missouri vs. Oklahoma State wrestling meet on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019 at Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo.

Brian Smith does not like to lose. The MU wrestling coach made that abundantly clear, mentioning it several times in the five minutes he spent with reporters following No. 5 Missouri’s 19-15 loss to No. 2 Oklahoma State on Saturday.

And yet his demeanor didn’t reflect a coach whose team had just lost the biggest match of the year, but one who was proud of his wrestlers, having fought hard and hung with one of the best teams in the nation.

“I hate to lose, but it was a lot of fun,” Smith said. “I saw a young team go out there and battle their asses off and I enjoyed it. I saw a team that was probably favored in eight matches and we just battled tooth and nail with them and I’m proud of my team. I hate to lose; I don’t enjoy it. It hurts. I don’t like it, but I know we are a good team. I know we’re a really good team.”

Smith’s wrestlers echoed those sentiments, expressing their disappointment that they couldn’t finish the job but taking away a small amount of satisfaction that they were able to come down to the wire with a team boasting nine ranked wrestlers in the starting lineup. If nothing else, Missouri has set itself up with confidence and momentum heading into the the MAC and NCAA Tournaments over the next few weeks.

“We battled pretty hard,” redshirt junior Jaydin Eierman said. “There were some bad calls in my opinion with the refs, but every single guy went out there and battled their hardest…I feel like we’re gonna have all 10 guys All-American this year.”

Exiting a rivalry meet with the knowledge that they can compete with fellow top five teams, the Tigers are already looking forward to the upcoming tournaments.

“I’m chasing titles this season, man,” No. 2 Senior 174 Daniel Lewis, who defeated No. 6 Joe Smith 7-0. “It feels really good, ending on really good wins. We still have a dual coming up next week, so I’m not looking too far ahead, but the season’s wrapping up nicely, the regular season. Getting top wins makes you feel confident going into the MAC tournament and the national tournament because you know you have the tools, you know you put the work in and you’re well-prepared.”

Freshmen 149 Brock Mauller and 157 Jarrett Jacques each won their matches, No. 7 Mauller beating No. 5 Kaden Gfeller 10-4 and No. 13 Jacques downing Wyatt Sheets 6-5, pleasing Smith and offering more hope heading into the tournaments. The MAC championships are March 8-9, while the NCAA championships are March 21-23.

“They’re not freshmen anymore,” Smith said. “They came in June and they had a lot of experience and they’re enjoying the moment at the beginning of the year, it looked like they were unsure. Now they’re just sticking with their gameplans and doing what they do best and finding ways to win, which is fun to watch. This is gonna be a really good team at the national tournament.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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