Wrestling notebook: Injury updates on Miklus, Eierman ahead of conference opener

Plagued with bad memories of a similar knee injury, the significance of Willie Miklus’ pin lingers.
Redshirt freshman Tim Miklus avoids getting pinned by Cornell’s Gabe Dean. Miklus lost 18-1 in what coach Brian Smith described as a heroic effort. A pin would’ve put the match out of reach for the No. 4 Missouri Tigers. Instead, the team won 18-17 on Jan. 10, 2016, in Jesse Hall.

The circumstances were all too familiar for Willie Miklus.

Trying to clinch a crucial dual for Missouri at the 197-pound weight class last Saturday, the redshirt senior was struggling early on against No. 10 Virginia Tech’s Jared Haught even before the familiar scare: a tweaked knee.

Almost a year prior to the day, Miklus had blown out his left knee in another early-season match. The injury required surgery, knocking him out for the rest of the season. Waiting to hopefully continue against Haught, Miklus couldn’t resist recalling the parallels: both injuries were against Virginia Tech; both were in duals held on a stage, rather than in a gym like usual; the only difference, it seemed, was that it was the opposite knee this time.

“For the three or four seconds it took them to get out to me, there were a lot of thoughts racing through my head,” Miklus said. “Deja vu was definitely one of them. This was scary similar. It wasn’t something I wanted to relive, but I did.”

One other thing turned out to be different. Miklus kept going this time, and down 7-2 with 20 seconds left, he put Haught on his back for a dramatic, tide-turning pin that clinched the dual for Mizzou.

“I was trying to throw him to his back; I didn’t have much left,” Miklus said. “I almost didn’t quite know how to process it.”

“He kept competing for seven minutes,” head coach Brian Smith said. “That’s something we teach, and something he does all the time. Willie’s never out of a match. He got up; he was fine; he wrestled through that adversity.”

Miklus’ tweak may still be of some concern for Mizzou even after his resilience was on display at Virginia Tech. He was kept out of the lineup the next day as the Tigers struggled to get a win over Virginia, and Smith said yesterday that Miklus’ status remains day-to-day. Whether he competes in Saturday’s conference opener against Old Dominion will be a match-day decision.

“He was on the mat yesterday moving around, so we’ll see,” Smith said.

“My knee feels good,” Miklus added. “We’ve got it covered up a little bit, but it feels good. I’m ready to go if they decide to call on me.”

The other injury of concern for Missouri last weekend seems to be resolved now. Sophomore standout Jaydin Eierman will be ready to go Saturday after he didn’t wrestle in either dual last weekend following a minor injury suffered in the Lindenwood Open.

“He tweaked something in the tournament, and I felt like it just wasn’t worth bringing him on this trip,” Smith said. “The best thing for him in the long season is, we need him in March. So we didn’t need him there that weekend.”

Mizzou vs. Old Dominion will start at noon tomorrow in Hearnes Center. The Tigers will be well-rested after being tested by a Saturday-night-to-Sunday-afternoon turnaround last week, something Smith and Miklus agreed contributed to their sluggishness against Virginia.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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