Nov. 3, 2012
COLUMBIA, Mo. - The No. 7-ranked Missouri Tigers kicked off this year's campaign Saturday with the annual Black and Gold Meet. Many stood out, but none outshined sophomore Drake Houdashelt. Houdashelt dominated in the 149-pound category, tallying two falls in his only two matches.
The sophomore faced off against Brandon Rice in his preliminary match and came out of the gate flying. Seven seconds in to the first period, he took a two-point lead by a takedown, and by the end of the first, held a 6 to 2 lead. A minute and 21 seconds in to the 2nd, Houdashelt pinned Rice and solidified his first win of the day.
The 149-pound final proved to be extremely similar. Facing off against freshman Lavion Mayes, it only took Houdashelt 66 seconds to win by his second fall of the day. Houdashelt is slated to be the projected starter for next week's season opener in West Lafayette. After wrestling at 157 pounds last year, he has cut a few more pounds and will wrestle at 149 for the Tigers this year.
"He was light last year. He was aggressive, but he was going against bigger weight," said Head Coach Brian Smith. "This year he's the big weight. He's just very aggressive kid, he gets after it in matches and I think we're going to see him get a lot of matches."
Nathan McCormick also found himself in the spotlight, as he too won the 133-pound final match by a fall. The senior from Leawood, Kansas faced off against freshman Matt Manley, and after building a quick 7 to 1 lead, took down his opponent with a minute remaining in the first period. McCormick looks to have an incredible senior season after qualifying for the NCAA Championships last year with a record of 16-7.
No. 5-ranked junior Alan Waters appeared in only one match, and won the 125-pound final by a huge margin over redshirt freshman Boomer Boyd, 13-3. After being crowned Big 12 champion last season, Waters has his eyes set on a national championship.
In one of the more surprising and exciting finals matchups, sophomore Johnny Eblen defeated senior and NCAA qualifier Mike Larson in a close and heated battle, 3-1. The score was tied at zero until the third, when Larson took a one-point lead on an escape with under 30 seconds remaining. Eblen wouldn't go away though, and with 6 seconds on the clock, he recorded a takedown on Larson, giving him a one-point advantage. An unsportsmanlike penalty called on Larson gave Eblen a two-point lead with just seconds remaining, and would prove to put the match away.
The squad will have one more week to prepare for their first official match of the year. The will travel to West Lafayette to take on Purdue and Old Dominion on Saturday, November 10th. They will then return to the Hearnes Center on November 14th for their home opener against the Baker Wildcats. The No.7-ranked Tigers haven't been ranked this high in the pre-season polls since 2008, when they were ranked No. 5. For all the latest on Mizzou Wrestling, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouWrestling.