Honors: Four Letters
Entering his second year as Missouri's volunteer assistant coach is 2007 graduate and four-time All-American Ben Askren. A native of Hartland, Wis., Askren became the wrestling program's first-ever National Champion in 2006 and repeated his successful run through the NCAA Tournament in 2007. In addition, Askren became the program's first-ever graduate to compete at the Olympics, doing so in Beijing, China, in 2008 in the 64 kg, men's freestyle championships.
Since joining the Tiger team in 2003, the former 174 pounder rewrote the Missouri wrestling history books. Surpassing names that had previously stood at No. 1 for decades, Askren closed his college career with a record-setting 153 wins, 87 coming consecutively during the course of his junior and senior seasons, 91 career falls and 29 single season pins.
Showered with awards, Askren is only the second recipient in W.I.N. Magazine history to receive the prestigious Dan Hodge Trophy in back-to-back seasons, doing so in 2006 and 2007. In addition, Askren was named the Big 12 Conference Male Athlete of the Year in 2007 and was one of four collegiate male athletes nominated for a 2007 ESPY.
A three-time Big 12 Champion, Askren was named the 2004 Most Oustanding Wrestler following his first Big 12 Championship title victory at 174 pounds. Askren was later named the 2006 NCAA Most Outstanding Wrestler after finishing his season with a 45-0 record that included 25 falls. Askren bested his own record by tallying 29 falls in his senior season, 23 coming in the first period.
Academically, Askren was a four-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree and National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) All-American in Academics.
Outside of wrestling, Askren served as a four-year member of Missouri's Student Athlete Advisory Council, acting as president in 2007. For his numerous hours of volunteer work, Askren was named to the 2006-07 Big 12 Winter Sports Good Work Team.
Competing at the Olympic Trials in June, 2008, Askren wrestled his way to a starting spot on Team USA's Olympic freestyle squad. Askren became the first Missouri graduate to qualify for the Olympics in the sport of wrestling, doing so with a back-to-back wins by decision over former Oklahoma State grappler Tyrone Lewis at the Thomas & Mack Center on the University of Nevada campus. Askren became only the second Missouri wrestler to qualify for the Olympics and first since 1991 All-American Sam Henson captured a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics in the 54 kg weight class.
In Beijing, Askren went 1-1, pinning his opening round opponent, Hungarian Istvan Vereb, to win the bout. A loss to eventual bronze medalist Van Fundora of Cuba brought Askren's run at Olympic gold to an end.
Askren's prior international competition includes a fifth place finish at 185 pounds at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in 2004.
Askren is the son of Chuck and Michele Askren and has one brother, Maxwell (22), Missouri's 197-pound starter and All-American.
2005-06: The first Missouri wrestler to ever win an NCAA title, Askren dismantled Northwestern's undefeated Jake Herbert, 14-2, in the 174-pound title bout claiming the crown at the NCAA Championships March 18. Askren won five matches during the tournament, winning by technical fall in the quarterfinals over No. 8 Travis Frick of Lehigh, 19-3, and beating No. 5 Mike Patrovich of Hofstra, 21-6, in the semifinals. The performance earned Askren the Most Outstanding Wrestler award for the NCAA Division I Championships, as well as the Dan Hodge Trophy as the nation's most dominant wrestler. Askren captured his second Big 12 Championship title becoming the first Tiger grappler to earn two Big 12 titles, with a 17-6 major decision over No. 4 Jacob Klein in the final bout of the evening. One of just two grapplers in the nation to retain the No. 1 ranking at their weight class throughout the season, Askren defeated 45 consecutive opponents, the longest current winning streak in the country. Breaking marks he set as a sophomore, Askren established new Tiger highs for season falls (25) and consecutive wins (45). Askren opened the season by pinning 12 of the first 14 opponents he faced, with his other two victories coming by technical fall. During that streak, Askren pinned Nick Padazan of Pittsburgh in 2:12 Dec. 2, breaking the Missouri career falls record of 47 set by J.P. Reese in 2004. Askren finished first in all four tournaments in which he competed, and was named the Big 12 Wrestler of the Month for December after bringing home titles from the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational Dec. 2-3 and the Southern Scuffle Dec. 29-30. Askren was named the CSTV Student-Athlete of the Week Jan. 15. Competing in the opening round of the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Duals Jan. 14, Askren broke his own records for falls in a season (20) and consecutive wins (26) with a fall over Alex Pavlenko of Arizona State. Wrestling against the highest-ranked grappler he faced during regular season competition Jan. 29, Askren pinned No. 3 Jacob Klein of Nebraska in 4:29.
2004-05: Making his second run at an NCAA title, Askren dominated the 174-pound weight class March 16-18, winning four matches by a combined score of 55-8, advancing to the championship round for the second year in a row. Grappling a tough bout with rival Chris Pendleton (Oklahoma State), Askren lost a 10-5 decision to finish second in the nation. Competing at the Big 12 Championships, March 5, in Omaha, Neb., Askren topped No. 10 E.K. Waldhaus for the second time of the season to advance to the league finals. In the end, Askren wrestled a solid seven minutes, but was handed a 12-8 loss by Pendleton. Wrestling in Stillwater, Okla., on Feb. 4, Askren lost his first bout of the season to Pendleton, 4-3. Ranked No. 2 in the nation behind Pendleton, Askren broke the Missouri record for falls in a season Jan. 29, later setting a new record (20) Feb. 16, after pinning UTC's Daniel Peterson. Breaking Mizzou marks all season, Askren also set a new standard by winning 26 consecutive matches from Nov. 4 to Jan. 29. Askren finished first at the Central Missouri State Open and Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and was named the Virginia Duals Most Outstanding Wrestler after pinning five of his six opponents. Askren became Missouri's first Big 12 Wrestler of the Week honoree in nearly three years on Jan. 18. Competing in postseason and summer competition at 184 pounds, Askren took second place at the University National Team Trials in Evanston, Ill., April 15. Making a trip to Guatemala City, Guatemala with teammate Matt Pell, Askren beat Matthew Aaron White Rich of Puerto Rico to bring home the gold medal at the Pan American Championships. Askren went to the World Team Trials June 18-19 in Ames, Iowa and finished fourth after competing against some of the nation's best freestyle wrestlers.
2003-04: Askren became only the third wrestler in Missouri's 60-year history to make it to the Championship match of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Entering the final bout with a 3-0 record, Askren paired with Big 12 opponent Chris Pendleton of Oklahoma State for the fifth time of the season, but dropped the challenge, 11-4. In earlier matches, Pendleton took wins over Askren on three separate occasions, but was out-matched by the redshirt freshman at the Big 12 Championships on March 6, in Ames, Iowa. Winning the bout 9-7, Askren was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler for his performances on the mat. Askren totaled a team-high 17 falls on the season, the fastest recorded in 32 seconds, and was named Missouri's 2004 Most Outstanding Wrestler and Marshall Esteppe Most Outstanding Freshman. Competing at the Southern Scuffle in Greensboro, N.C., Dec. 28-29, Askren held on for a perfect 5-0 record to become the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Strong academically, Askren was named to the NWCA and Academic All-Big 12 First Teams. Wrestling in the spring of 2004, Askren qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and traveled to Indianapolis, Ind., for the all-day tournament on May 23. Finishing the day in fifth place at 185 pounds, Askren took a significant victory, defeating 2001 World Silver Medalist Brandon Eggum 6-2. Four weeks earlier, Askren won the gold medal at the Federation Internationale des Luttes Associees (FILA) Junior World Team Trials, April 30, in Lincoln, Neb.
2002-03: Taking a redshirt season, Askren competed solely in open meets, recording his first championship title in the 174-pound weight class at the Missouri Valley College Open on Feb. 1. With a winning record of 35-10, Askren took on four, top-20 wrestlers from around the nation. Askren had four major decision victories to his name and six falls. Competing in the 184-pound weight class at the USA Wrestling Northern Plains Senior Freestyle Regional on April 19, Askren won four matches, pinning Paul Bergman of Ohio in 1:30 in the semifinals and defeating Sean Herrington of the New York Athletic Club, 8-5, in the finals. With his victory, Askren moved within one step of a berth on the USA World Wrestling Team. On June 20, Askren hit the mat at the Senior Men's Freestyle World Team Trials in Indianapolis, Ind., but was defeated by Randy Pugh, in a 6-0 decision.
HIGH SCHOOL: Ranked among the top-25 high school wrestlers, Askren was a three-time All-American (2000-2002) and two-time Wisconsin State Champion (2001-2002). Coached by John Mesenbrink, Askren was the 2002 Junior Nationals Champion and finished second in the High School Nationals at 160-pounds. Askren holds the state record in takedowns in a season (401) and in a career (1,100). In 2002, Askren finished fourth at the FILA Junior Freestyle Nationals, while in 2001, he finished fourth at the FILA Cadet Freestyle Nationals and fifth in the 2000 Cadet Greco-Roman nationals.