Three MU wrestlers place in tournament

For most people, Thanksgiving means turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. However, the Missouri wrestling team went hungry on a bus bound for the Northern Open in Madison, Wisconsin.

Sacrificing the holiday feast to compete in this past Friday's tournament paid off. The Tigers placed three wrestlers in what is regarded as the toughest tournament in the nation.

"It was a good tournament for us," said MU assistant coach Gil Sanchez. "When you go up there and wrestle a lot of the Big 10 teams, you've got to know how to push and hold your ground. And some of our guys were really pushing the pace, and that's what it's all about."

Leading the Tigers was junior Justin Thaw, who placed second after losing 3-2 in the 167-pound finals.

"Justin had a single leg late in the match but couldn't finish it," MU coach Wes Roper said. "It was a hard-fought match, and Justin wrestled really well in the tournament."

At 126, junior Donnie Mitchell upset Nebraska all-American Brad Canoyer in the quarterfinals en route to his third-place finish. "Donnie has been a real pleasant surprise," Roper said. "He should break into the top 20 in the national rankings, and that confidence is what they need."

Senior co-captain Joe Wier was the final Tiger who placed, finishing sixth at 177.

On Friday, the Tigers travel to Minneapolis, where they will compete in their first dual meet of the season against 10th-ranked Minnesota. Missouri will be without senior 158-pounder Todd Sacksteder, who is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. Roper said Sacksteder should be available for the Dec. 7 dual meet with Indiana. Even without Sacksteder, Roper is confident that the Tigers will be able to wrestle well against the Golden Gophers.

"They are ranked 10th nationally," Roper said. "But we don't worry about that stuff. We're going to go out and get it on, and I think the team that's going to win is the one that's ready to go."

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