Houdashelt, seeded second in the 149-pound bracket, leads a group of 5 Tigers into Thursday's quarterfinal round
Jan. 1, 2014
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The seventh-ranked Missouri Wrestling program finished day one of the Southern Scuffle on Wednesday (Jan. 1) in sixth place with 35.5 team points. Five Tigers - Drake Houdashelt (149 pounds), Kyle Bradley (157 pounds), Zach Toal (165 pounds), J'den Cox (197 pounds), and Devin Mellon (HWT) - all remain in their respective championship brackets, while all 15 who competed are still alive after day one.
"I knew that this tournament would provide a challenge with a lot of adversity for our team," said Head Coach Brian Smith. "Besides the NCAAs, this might be the toughest tournament in the nation, and we knew that we would find out a lot about each wrestler and where we are as a whole. We still have 15 going, and tomorrow will be an even bigger challenge, but that is why we are here."
Starting at 149 pounds, Houdashelt set the tone for the day with a 16-0 technical fall in the round of 64 over Alfred Murabito of the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a 6-0 decision against Oregon State's Jared Reis. In the evening session, the junior-captain punched his semifinal ticket with a 2-1 nail-biter over Nick Tourville from Boston University. Houdashelt took a 1-0 lead on an escape in the second, and rode tough on top in the third to get riding time. His three wins on Wednesday have put him in position to match or beat his 2013 finish at last year's Scuffle, when he took fourth place.
Moving to Bradley at 157 pounds, the Tiger senior posted three decisions on the day in what were some closely contested battles. Bradley kicked off his tournament with a 7-4 decision over Austin Sommer of Drexel, but followed with two consective overtime wins. Duke's Immanual Kerr-Brown held Bradley to a single point via an escape through seven minutes, but the St. Peters, Mo.-native finally capitalized with a 2-point takedown 20 seconds into sudden victory. In the round of 16, again Bradley had to strike first in extra time, grabbing a hold of Brett Baumbach's (Stanford) leg and wrapping up for two points. Bradley took a 3-2 lead after the second period, but had to keep Baumbach down for a majority of the third period to eliminate riding time. Bradley also finished in fourth place at last year's Scuffle.
Toal was dominant at 165 pounds as well, earning his quarterfinal birth by way of two major decisions and a 9-2 decision over Marshall Peppelman from Cornell. Toal controlled the bout from beginning to end as he climbed to an early 4-1 lead. He's slated to wrestle for a chance at the semis against Navy's Peyton Walsh on Thursday. Toal finished in fifth place in last year's tough 165-pound bracket which included four-time national champion Kyle Dake and Penn State's David Taylor.
True freshman J'den Cox continues to roll in his first season as a Tiger. Cox pinned Frank Abbondanza of UNC in 4:00 in the first round of the 197 pound bracket, and followed with a 5-0 decision over Oklahoma State's Darnell Bortz. He met up with Virginia's Zach Nye in the round of 16, controlling the entire bout en route to a 10-2 major decision.
At heavyweight, Mellon only needed two wins to get into the quarterfinal round on Thursday. Mellon started his day off with a 6-1 decision over Colynn Cook of Navy in the second round after a bye in the first. To close out day one, Mellon and Joe Stolfi of Bucknell traded a few escapes in regulation before Mellon got the first takedown of the match as sudden victory came to a close. Mellon is slated for a rematch with Ohio's Jeremy Johnson in Thursday's quarterfinal. Johsnon defeated Mellon earlier this year when the Bobcats and Tigers battled at Jesse Hall on December 6.
Fans can watch all of tomorrow's matches with a subscription to Flowrestling's `Flo Casts' subscription. Action will begin at 8 a.m. with the quarterfinals and the fourth round of wrestlebacks, followed by the semifinals and finals tomorrow afternoon. Also, fans can follow along live on Trackwrestling, or by following the Tigers on Twitter, @MizzouWrestling.
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