OUTLOOK: Matt Pell returns to the Missouri wrestling team for his senior season and is expected to build on last year's experiences at 165 pounds.
"I've said it before, but what doesn't kill us makes us stronger," Head Coach Brian Smith said. "Matt didn't have the NCAA campaign he and the coaching staff expected last season. This year, Matt's taking last year's negative finish to the 2006 season and turning it into a positive while he makes his final run at an NCAA title. Over the past five years Matt has grown as a leader on the team and this year he will serve as team captain."
2005-06: Making his second consecutive NCAA appearance, Pell fell short of All-America honors after suffering a 4-2 loss to ninth-seeded Travis Paulson of Iowa State. Pell opened the tournament with a 7-2 loss to Oregon's Joey Bracamonte in the first round, but came through the consolation bracket with three straight victories including a 10-1 major decision over then-No. 12 Marc Harwood of Nebraska. Dropping two weight classes to wrestle at 165 pounds, Pell finished second at the Big 12 Championships March 4 in Ames, Iowa after suffering an overtime loss to No. 2 Johny Hendricks of Oklahoma State. Earlier in the evening, Pell bested then-No. 8 Paulson in the semifinals, 4-1. Pell and Paulson met on three occasions during the 2005-06 season, with Pell claiming two victories over the Cyclone wrestler. Facing No. 9 Paulson Feb. 12, at the Hilton Coliseum, Pell picked up a 6-2 decision, helping the Tigers record the first win by a Missouri squad in Ames, Iowa, since the 1927-28 season. A dominant tournament competitor, Pell brought home titles at the Missouri Open Nov. 20 and the Southern Scuffle Dec. 29-30, finishing second at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational Dec. 2-3. Ranked third on the team in falls, Pell pinned nine opponents during the campaign. Pell recorded eight wins by major decision on the year, including victories over No. 16 Steve Anceravage of Cornell and No. 14 Jarrod King of Oklahoma. The victory over King helped the then-No. 14 Tigers to a 17-16 upset of the No. 10 Sooners.
2004-05: Defying the odds, Pell entered the NCAA Championships March 17-19 as a wild card, but a 5-1 decision over ninth-seeded Shane Webster of Oregon and a last-second escape to beat Paul Bradley of Iowa, 7-6, propelled the 184-pounder to All-American status. Pell lost to eventual national champion Greg Jones of West Virginia, but a 1-1 split in his next two matches put him in the seventh-place bout, which he won by decision over Purdue's Ben Wissel, 5-2. Pell finished fourth at the Big 12 Championships March 5, in Omaha, Neb. 1-2 at the league tournament, Pell suffered a 7-2 loss at the hands of third-ranked Kurt Backes (Iowa State) but rebounded with a quick 3-2 decision over Oklahoma State's Clay Kehrer. In the third pairing of the season between Pell and No. 13 Justin Dyer (Oklahoma) Pell lost for the first time, 4-2. He was the only Mizzou wrestler to earn a wild card bid to the 2005 NCAA Championships. Throughout his sophomore campaign, Pell recorded wins over four ranked opponents, including conference foe Dyer, 7-3, Nov. 21, at the Missouri Open and 12-3, Feb. 5, in Norman, Okla. A 2004 Big 12 runner-up, Pell won 10 of his matches by fall. Wrestling in three tournaments, Pell finished first at the Central Missouri State Open (CMSU), Nov. 14, in Warrensburg, Mo., scoring five straight wins, three by fall. On Nov. 21, Pell took third at the Missouri Open, later finishing fifth at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Dec. 4.
Wrestling in postseason competition at the University National Team Trials April 15, Pell grappled his way to the 163-pound title. Two weeks later he picked up international accolades by placing third at the Pan American Championships in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
2003-04: Pell moved up three weight classes to earn the Tiger's starting spot at 184 pounds. A valuable asset to the team, Pell brought strength to the upper weight class along with speed gained from a year of experience wrestling at 157 pounds. In his first year of competition, Pell secured a trip to the NCAA Championships, finishing second at the Big 12 Championships March 6, in Ames, Iowa. His only loss of the Big 12 tournament came to then No. 3 Jake Rosholt of Oklahoma State. Wrestling against Big 12 opponents, Pell was 7-3 on the season, helping bring his 2003-04 record to 31-12, with nine falls and two technical falls, including two back-to-back sets of pins. Competing at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Pell finished his first NCAA outing with a 4-2 record. His most intense match of the tournament came down to sudden victory against Ryan Halsey (Cal-Poly). Pell won the match 4-2 in overtime to advance in the consolation bracket and defeat Nebraska's Travis Pascoe before falling to border rival Brian Glynn of Illinois, 6-2.
2002-03: Finishing second at the Missouri Valley Open on Feb. 1, Pell weighed in at 157-pounds, winning four of his five matches. His only loss of the day came to B.J. Wright (Nebraska) in a 4-3 decision. The loss was one of only six on the season, as Pell won 18 matches, six by major decision.
HIGH SCHOOL: Pell was a three-time state champion in Wisconsin (1999, 2001, 2002) and was forced to miss the championships his sophomore year (2000), due to injury. Under the guidance of Head Coach Bob Beceau, Pell helped the Spartans of Luxemburg-Casco High School, to three state championships, (1999, 2001, 2002). A 2001 Greco Roman All-American, Pell was ranked as the 10th-best wrestler in Wisconsin, and eighth-best at 145-pounds by Intermat. Pell lettered in wrestling, cross country and football.
PERSONAL: Matt was born June 13, 1984, to Mike and Josephine Pell, in Los Angeles, Calif. Older brother Nick (24), wrestles at North Idaho. Pell has one younger sister, Ruthy (16). A psychology major, Pell hopes to attend graduate school after finishing his career at Missouri.