True freshman Joey Lavallee holds the No. 14 seed at 157 after joining the Tiger lineup back in January
March 18, 2014
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Before wrapping up a 13th-consecutive winning season and third-straight conference title, eight Mizzou Wrestling starters will be featured in the NCAA Championships that will be held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, beginning this Thursday, March 20. Seven of 10 Tigers earned automatic bids to the tournament due to their placing at this year's Mid-American Conference Championships. This is the 12th straight year in which Missouri has qualified five or more wrestlers to the NCAA Championships.
Five Tigers will make their NCAA Championship debuts on Thursday. Senior Zach Toal makes his fourth-consecutive appearance, with juniors Drake Houdashelt and Devin Mellon having qualified in previous seasons as well. Houdashelt will open as the No. 1 seed nationally at 149 pounds, and freshman J'den Cox holds the two-spot at 197. True freshman Joey Lavallee rounds out the seeded wrestlers for the Tigers this weekend with the No. 14 seed at 157 pounds.
Houdashelt enters as the top-seed overall at 149 pounds in weight class with a lot of talent in the top-five. The junior-captain has posted an impressive 34-1 record on the season. He was voted MAC Wrestler of the Week twice this season and captured his third-consecutive conference championship as a Tiger two weekends ago at the conference championships. This will be Houdashelt's third straight NCAA appearance after automatically qualifying in 2012 and 2013.
True freshman J'den Cox has had an outstanding in his first year on the Missouri squad going 33-2 overall and wrestling his way to an MAC Championship title at 197 pounds. It became official that Cox will own the No. 2 seed for his weight class as he looks to be the first freshman in Mizzou Wrestling history to be a national champion.
Freshman Joey Lavallee picked up a No. 14 seed for the 157-pound weight class. Lavallee went 27-9 this year and 3-1 at the MAC Championships earning him a third place title. This will be Lavallee's first NCAA appearance.
Last year in Des Moines, the Tigers finished with five in the top-eight as Alan Waters (125), Nathan McCormick (133), Houdashelt (149), Mike Larson (184) and Dom Bradley (HWT) all earned All-American honors. Mizzou finished in seventh place as a team in 2013, and look for their fifth top-10 finish in the past eight years this weekend in Oklahoma City.
The program finished the 2014 regular season ranked No. 9 by the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll.
Over the past 15 years in which head coach Brian Smith has been at the helm, 18 Missouri wrestlers have been crowned All-American with ten earning multiple honors. In all, Mizzou has claimed 31 All-America slots since Smith has been at Mizzou, which includes four national champions. Ben Askren is the program's only repeat champion, taking first in 2006 and 2007 at 174 pounds. Mark Ellis won the heavyweight title in 2009, while Max Askren finished first at 184 pounds in 2010.
Watch Live: With all six sessions televised and every match carried on ESPN3 for the first time, ESPN will provide unprecedented coverage of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships from Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla. ESPN will televise the semifinals and finals, while ESPNU televises the first and second sessions, the quarterfinals and medal round. Digitally, ESPN3 will carry individual mat feeds throughout the entire tournament and debut a special - Off the Mat -- during the finals. All six sessions are available on WatchESPN.
ESPN3 has expanded its individual mat feed which allows fans to watch every match throughout the tournament, including the wrestleback bracket, accompanied by live commentary. Additionally, for computer users, ESPN3 will once again offer multi-mat simultaneous viewing which allows fans to watch up to four different mats at one time.
Live Results: Get up-to-the-minute scores and bracket updates by following live on trackwrestling.com.
Social Media: Stay abreast with the Tigers by checking out our Facebook page or by following @MizzouWrestling on Twitter. Fans can use the hashtags #TigerStyle and #d1wrestle to join in on the conversation.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Thursday, March 20
Session I - Eight Mats: Pigtails and First Round: 11 a.m. CT (Live ESPNU/ESPN3.com)
Session II - Eight Mats: Second Round and Wrestleback Rounds: 6 p.m. CT (Live on ESPNU/ESPN3.com)
Friday, March 21
Session III - Eight Mats: Quarterfinals and Wrestlebacks: 10 a.m. CT (Live on ESPNU/ESPN3.com)
Session IV - Six Mats: Semifinals: 7 p.m. CT (Live on ESPN/ESPN3.com)
Saturday, March 22
Session V - Three Mats: Medal Rounds and Wrestleback Semifinals: 10 a.m. CT (Live on ESPNU/ESPN3.com)
Session VI - One Mat: Finals and Award Ceremony: 7 p.m. CT (Live on ESPN/ESPN3.com)
FIRST ROUND MATCHUPS (Thursday Morning, March 20)
133- Matt Manley (23-14) vs. Mackenzie McGuire, Kent State, (27-13)
141- Lavion Mayes (23-11) vs. No. 2 Logan Stieber, Ohio State, (25-1)
149- No. 1 Drake Houdashelt (34-1) vs. Alex Kocer, South Dakota State University, (29-11)
157- Joey Lavallee (27-8) vs. Immanuel Kerr-Brown, Duke, (25-11)
165- Zach Toal (26-5) vs. Pierce Harger, Northwestern, (23-5)
174- Mike England (19-14) vs. No. 2 Andrew Howe, Oklahoma, (24-1)
197- No. 2 J'den Cox (33-2) vs. Mario Gonzalez, Illinois, (10-4)/Blake Rosholt, Oklahoma State (12-8)
HWT- Devin Mellon (24-10) vs. No. 9 Connor Medbery, Wisconsin, (24-7)
MIZZOU WINS THIRD CONSECUTIVE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP
For the third time in as many years, the Tigers are conference champions. Mizzou posted 118.5 team points en route to the 2014 Mid-American Conference title, their second title since joining the MAC as an affiliate member last year. The squad placed all 10 grapplers in the top six, and crowned two individual champions in Drake Houdashelt and J'den Cox. Seven Tigers booked their trips to the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City throughout the tournament.
Junior Drake Houdashelt and freshman J'den Cox both won individual titles at their respective weight classes. Since Houdashelt entered the Tiger starting lineup in 2012, he has been a three-time individual conference champion as well as a three-time team champion.
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