Notebook: New faces turn heads in dominant double-dual

Kent, DeLoach and Valdiviez impress in rare dual opportunities.

Before Thursday night, redshirt freshman Jeremiah Kent hadn’t wrestled a single dual match in his career. Senior Phyllip DeLoach had only two. Sophomore Cameron Valdiviez had a slim upper hand on both of them with three.

Each added two matches and two wins to their stat sheets on Thursday night, when Missouri blew out Central Missouri and Missouri Valley College by scores of 39-3 and 45-0, respectively. Two small school opponents allowed Tigers coach Brian Smith to showcase some of his less utilized grapplers.

“Jeremiah, he has a lot of talent,” Smith said about the Hickman High School graduate. “He’s getting better, he keeps progressing. I was glad to get him some matches.”

Kent earned a technical fall against Central Missouri, a win during which he nearly pinned his opponent. He finished the job later in the night against Missouri Valley, only spending one minute and two seconds on the mat before securing the fall victory.

While Kent is blocked by senior Connor Flynn at the 174-pound weight class in Missouri’s regular starting lineup, he used Thursday night to put together an impressive performance.

“I felt support, because anywhere I look up during the match,” Kent said. “If I’m on bottom, on my feet, or top, there’s just people who are there who I know who are supporting me, so that’s really nice.”

Valdiviez wrestled at two weight classes, 125 and 133, and won both, securing a pin against Central Missouri. DeLoach used a well-executed turn to gain third-period near-fall points in both matches, winning one by technical fall and the other by major decision.

“That’s something that we work [on], and that was an emphasis from the coaching staff,” DeLoach said. “I can get to my takedowns, but let’s see some bonus points, let’s get those turns on top. Working with [assistant coach Kendric] Maple, he’s helping out all that, he’s awesome on top.”

DeLoach’s dual appearances were his first since a torn labrum cost him nearly all of last season.

“It’s tough,” he said. “It’s a different kind of mental grind. You have that helpless feeling that you can’t do anything, you can’t go out and compete with your boys. It’s a whole different process, but you have to stay consistent, you have to do what you can to achieve your goals in life.”

Ritchie wrestles, drops first career dual match

Sam Ritchie’s match at 149 pounds against Central Missouri’s Emmett Kuntz came with noticeably louder and more consistent verbal support from the Tigers’ bench. Ritchie is a senior who finally got his chance to contribute to a dual victory, but instead was charged with Missouri’s only loss of the night.

“This probably will be the opportunity for him,” Smith said, indicating that Ritchie’s first dual bout will likely be his last.

Ritchie led Kuntz 5-4 when the final regulation horn sounded, but riding time gave Kuntz an extra point that pushed the match to overtime. Kuntz took a shot early in overtime and succeeded, completing the sudden-death takedown and winning the bout 7-5.

“They’re excited for him, he’s been a great teammate, he works hard in the room,” Smith said. “He got an opportunity to get out there and he wanted to make the most of it, and I think he did. He just lost a tough match.”

Starters take care of business against Missouri Valley

Through his play, Brock Mauller has made it very clear how much he likes his double-leg takedown. He likes it so much for a pretty good reason: it’s completely unstoppable. Each attempt ends with his hands on his opponent’s hamstrings and the thud of said opponent hitting the mat.

Mauller, who piled enough points with that double-leg takedown to earn a technical fall victory, was one of four regular starters — all of whom faced Missouri Valley — to see the mat on Thursday night.

“From Mauller, he’s just attacking more and more,” Smith said. “That was something we were trying to get him to do more of last year, and this year he’s starting to get more comfortable on the mat with his leg attacks.”

In addition to Mauller, sophomore Dack Punke won a decision after moving up a weight class. Redshirt freshman Peyton Mocco pinned his man in the second period, and heavyweight Rodrigo Diaz won the last match of the night.

“Mocco’s struggling with his finishes on his takedown, but he got a pin tonight, which is what he usually does, which is good,” Smith said. “Dack got a big win, bumping up a weight. That’s hard to do, because he weighed in at 125 and wrestled at 133, so he found a way to get the win over a kid that’s a little bigger, and I was pleased with that.”

Edited by Wilson Moore | wmoore@themaneater.com

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