Just the second Missouri wrestler in program history to earn a national title, heavyweight Mark Ellis returns for his senior season with hopes of becoming a two-time NCAA champion. Ellis enters the season ranked No. 1 in the nation at heavyweight, a feat he first accomplished during his junior campaign.
"From Mark's first year until now, he has made huge gains in every aspect of wrestling," Missouri Head Coach Brian Smith said. "Mark is up to 265 pounds in the preseason and he's just as fast and quick as he was last year, and that's a dangerous combination. One of Mark's biggest assets is that he has a motor. He can wrestle seven hard minutes with anyone. That's not something a lot of heavyweight wrestlers are used to."
2008-09: Missouri wrestling's second-ever National Champion, second-seeded Ellis, won five straight bouts en route to the program's third national title. In his third trip to the NCAA Championships, Ellis opened the three-day tournament with a 2-1 win over 15th-ranked Zach Sheaffer of Pitt before holding off No. 17 Richard Goff of Cleveland State, 3-2. The Tiger heavyweight took win No. 3 at the NCAA's by way of a 6-5 decision over No. 7 Daniel Erekson of Iowa, advancing to a semifinal match with No. 4 Jermail Porter of Kent State. Ellis became Missouri's fourth grappler to compete in the Championship finals after recording a 5-3 win over the Golden Flash. The final match of the 2009 Championships placed Ellis against Duke's fifth-ranked Konrad Dudziak. The two battled through regulation time and sent the bout to overtime where Ellis came out the victor, 3-2. With the win, Ellis became Missouri's first-ever heavyweight All-American. Ellis finished the year with a 31-3 mark and 12-1 dual record. Two weeks prior to the NCAA Championships, Ellis took runner-up honors at the Big 12 Championships after falling to then-No. 1 David Zabriskie of Iowa State, 3-1. Ellis owned the longest win streak of his Tiger teammates at 21, with five wins recorded by fall and two by major decision. Ranked No. 1 in the nation for three straight weeks, Ellis recorded five wins over top-10 ranked competitors including two over 2008 NCAA Championship fourth place finisher Jared Rosholt. Ellis' first win over Rosholt came 5-3 in sudden victory in Missouri's dual in Stillwater, Okla., while win No. 2 came in the semifinals of the Big 12 Championships, 2-1. Missouri's 2008-09 leader in falls, nine, Ellis' fastest pin was clocked at 1:10 in his first match of the year. Competing in The Midlands, Ellis took first, later earning Big 12 Wrestler of the Week honors for his accomplishment on the mat. For his accomplishments throughout the season, Ellis was awarded the program's Most Outstanding Wrestler award.
2007-08: Missouri's first heavyweight since 1995 to make back-to-back appearances at the NCAA Championships, Ellis made his second National tournament trip March 20, 2008. Ellis finished the three-day event with a 3-2 mark that included an opening round win, 5-4, over Illinois' John Wise. Competing at the Big 12 Championships March 8, in Stillwater, Okla., Ellis finished third. Ellis opened the Big 12 tournament with a 5-1 win by decision over Oklahoma's Nathan Fernandez, then dropped a 3-1 loss to David Zabriskie (Iowa State), but quickly rebounded with a 3-1 win over Nebraska's Jon May. Consistently ranked among the top-20 in the nation, Ellis wrestled eight of the nation's top-20 heavyweight grapplers, pinning then-No. 13 Zach Sheaffer in 49 seconds Dec. 1 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, his fastest fall of the season. Ellis finished the prestigious tournament in seventh place with a 6-2 record. In his first three matches of the season, Ellis recorded a fall in 2:18 over Peter Reid of Rider, a win by technical fall, 21-6, in 6:39 over Hofstra's James Guerrin and a fall in 55 seconds over Alexander Williams of Indianapolis. Ellis doubled his previous career high mark for pins, nine, three coming consecutively in his Dec. 1, Dec. 16 and Dec. 19 matchups.
2006-07: Missouri's first heavyweight in four years to qualify for the NCAA Championships, Ellis went 1-2 at the tournament earning an opening round win over A.J. Brooks of Clarion, 8-3. Ellis suffered his first loss at the hands of fourth-seeded and eventual third-place finisher Dustin Fox of Northwestern, 6-5. In his first year as a member of Missouri's starting lineup, Ellis finished his campaign with a 16-11 record that included four wins by fall and four by major decision. Ellis qualified for the NCAA Championships after taking third at the Big 12 tournament, March 3 in Columbia, Mo. After suffering a 4-0 shutout by then 16th-ranked Jared Rosholt of Oklahoma State in the opening round, Ellis rattled off two consecutive wins to take third in the tournament. Ellis' first win of the day came in the form of a 12-3 major decision over Cameron Browne of Nebraska. Opening his redshirt freshman campaign, Ellis took on Corey Morrison of Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio and won by fall in 3:22, helping the Tigers to a 29-9 win over the Buckeyes. Competing at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational tournament, Ellis finished in sixth.
2005-06: One of two Tigers to wrestle at heavyweight, Ellis used his redshirt and finished the season with a 22-9 record in tournament competition. Finishing first in the freshman/sophomore division of the fifth annual Missouri Open, Ellis was a perfect 5-0 on the day holding off John Wise (Illinois) 4-3 in the championship bout. In other tournament action, Ellis took third at the Lindenwood Open, Oct. 29, shutting out two of his opponents and outscoring the opposition, 47-20. In his final outing of the season, Ellis finished fourth at the Roger Denker Open, Jan. 21. Ellis went 3-2 dropping both losses by a single point. Five of Ellis' 22 wins were by shutout with eight of his victories tabbed for extra points.
HIGH SCHOOL: A two-sport standout at Raymore-Peculiar High School, Ellis helped the Panthers wrestling team to two second-place finishes at the Missouri State Championships. Wrestling at 215 pounds for Head Coach Paul Barbarick, Ellis earned the Missouri State title as a senior (2005). Competing at the Brut-Adidas Folkstyle Nationals as a junior (2004) and the National High School Coaches Association as a senior, Ellis earned recognition as a two-time All-American. On the gridiron, Ellis earned all-conference honors as a defensive lineman.
PERSONAL: The second of four children, Mark was born Sept. 2, 1986, to Mark and Colleen Ellis in Overland Park, Kan. Ellis has two sisters, Johnna (25), an assistant women's basketball coach at Henderson State University in Arkansas, and Julia (21) and a brother, Dakota (15).