Three takeaways from Mizzou wrestling’s annual Black and Gold matches

The meet was the first step in Mizzou wrestling’s highly anticipated season.

In Missouri wrestling’s annual Black and Gold scrimmage, Team Gold edged out a 27-21 dual win with decisive victories from Austin Myers, Willie Miklus and Connor Flynn. In his first wrestling match at Mizzou since the Olympics, J’den Cox dominated Jake Bohlken in a 20-5 victory.

Missouri’s transfer Austin Myers will play a big role this year

Austin Myers was a recruit that got away from Mizzou. The four-time Kentucky high school state champion, three time National High School Coaches Association Champion and 220 lbs FloNationals Champion went to West Virginia last year. In his redshirt season, Myers went 21-8, before deciding to transfer to Mizzou.

“Things weren’t going right for me at West Virginia,” Myers said. “But I came here, everyone on the team, they want to win. Even if they aren’t starters, they want to come out win, compete and come after champions. That’s a very big deal.”

In his first match as a Tiger, Myers won his matchup against James Romero 7-2, but this is just the first step in the process for Myers, a heavyweight. His weight class is the only one Mizzou didn’t have any qualifiers for at the 2016 NCAA Championships. Myers could help push Mizzou over the hump to improve on last year’s No. 6 NCAAs finish.

“A lot of the top-ranked people I’ve wrestled with and I’ve had close matches with them,” Myers said. “I think coming to Missouri is going to push me over the edge to be an All-American this year.”

Missouri’s wrestling team is much more than just J’den Cox

“He is an Olympian, so he has represented the United States of America,” coach Brian Smith said. “So if you can’t follow that, if you’re not a wrestling fan you had to follow that. You guys covered it like crazy, which you should have. But I hear from so many people in the community that they can’t wait to see J’den, that they never been to a match. That’s exciting for our team, because we’ve had a great program over these years.”

The keywords in Smith’s statement: “great program.” Mizzou has won five consecutive Middle-American Conference titles and boasts four returning All-Americans: Cox, Miklus, Lavion Mayes and Daniel Lewis.

So, despite most fans only knowing the program because of Cox, this team is full of nationally respected wrestlers who could be household names at the end of this season. Mizzou holds the No. 1 ranking in seven weight classes in the MAC headed into the year, as the four All-Americans are joined by Jaydin Eierman, Matt Manley and Joey Lavallee.

The goal is to win a NCAA Championship, and they have a shot

It’s every team’s goal, but let's be real. Not every team has anywhere close to the culture and athletes to win an NCAA title.

This is what makes this season for Mizzou so intriguing: They have a legitimate chance. The Tigers are ranked No. 5 in the USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll, the highest of three MAC conference teams in the top 25.

“We want to win nationals,” Miklus said. “That’s the goal. We’ve won MAC, we’ve won national duals. We just want to win a national tournament.”

Edited by Peter Baugh |

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