Dec. 1, 2012
LAS VEGAS - Day two at the Las Vegas Invitational featured a roller coaster of a ride between the No. 7-Tigers and the No. 5-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. The two programs flip flopped all day for the top spot among the 32-team scoreboard, with the Buckeyes getting the final advantage by a point, 124.5 to Mizzou's 123.5. The tournament was eventually decided in the championship bracket finals, when the No. 1 ranked Logan Stieber acquired bonus points with a 12-1 major decision over Missouri's Nathan McCormick.
Stieber had made his way through the 133-pound bracket with ease prior to the finals matchup against McCormick (13-1). In fact, in four matches the sophomore hadn't even been on the mat for the length of a full match, as he had accumulated four pins in a total of 6:34. The sixth-ranked McCormick was his first win that didn't come by fall, but he was still able to get bonus points with a 12-1 major decision. The first period ended with McCormick down 5-1 after a Stieber takedown and three-point near fall. The match never slowed down, with another near-fall in the second and a takedown in the third.
Both Mizzou and Ohio State crowned two champions in the invitational. With the score tied prior to the final round, the major gave the Buckeyes five team points for the win versus the usual four points for a win-by-decision. That extra point proved to be the difference.
Junior Alan Waters (14-0) remained undefeated for the Tigers at 125 pounds for Mizzou this season after defeating Cornell's Nahshon Garrett for the title. Garrett, ranked 10th nationally, got things going first with a takedown 20 seconds in to the championship match. Waters was able to escape quickly and then added a takedown with 1:11 left in the first. The match was knotted at three until the third, when Waters managed a reversal 45 seconds in to the frame. Waters won by decision 6-4 with 2:05 of riding time. Waters and Garrett will most likely rematch in two weeks when the Tigers face off against Cornell at Madison Square Garden.
(15-0) also remains perfect with Mizzou's second title of the invitational. No. 2 Bradley defeated Oregon State's No. 6-ranked Chad Hanke 3-2 in a match where points were hard to come by. Bradley dropped Hanke about a minute in to the bout, and the rest of the match's points came via the escape. Hanke narrowed the deficit to one in the first, and Dom added an escape of his own after starting in the bottom position in the second. Bradley was ranked atop his bracket in this year's invite, and his counterpart Hanke was seeded second.
Senior Mike Larson (14-2) was the fourth Tiger to compete in the championship finals. Larson had a tough matchup against number-one seed Josh Ihnen of Nebraska. Larson found himself on the edge of the mat halfway through the first and tried to prematurely throw his No. 6 ranked counterpart. Ihnen capitalized on Larson's mistake and at 2:14, Larson found himself on his back. Nebraska's 184-pounder took the title by fall and gave Larson his second loss of the season.
Missouri finished the weekend with seven Tigers placing. Zach Toal (11-4) claimed fourth place at 165 pounds after a 5-2 loss to Nicholas Sulzer of Virginia. Senior 197-pounder Brent Haynes (13-3) had a rough day after cruising through day one. Haynes dropped his championship semifinal match to Alfonso Hernandez of Wyoming by decision 7-3 and couldn't find a way to recover in the consolation bracket. Haynes was 0-3 on the day with losses to Taylor Meeks (Oregon State) and Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State) on the back end, 8-5 and 13-1 respectively. Todd Porter (12-4) also placed eighth after dropping the seventh place match to Northern Iowa's Cody Caldwell 13-9.
The tournament might have been decided by one point in the 133-pound final, but the Tigers left a lot of points out on the mats in day two. Kyle Bradley (11-5) and Drake Houdashelt (10-4) had trouble getting going in their consolation matches, and failed to contribute any team points on the day. For final brackets and team scores from the 31st Annual Cliff Keen Invitational, click on this link.
Mizzou will now take a couple weeks off as finals approach for the fall semester, and will be back in action on December 16th when the squad travels north to New York City for duals against Cornell and Bloomsburg at the Grapple at the Garden. For all Tiger Wrestling updates, stay tuned to MUTigers.com.