Head Coach Brian Smith begins his 13th season as Tiger head coach
The 65th season of Missouri wrestling kicks off this Friday, Nov. 12, with a battle between two top-11 programs. The No. 11 Missouri Tigers will face off against the No. 10 Illinois Fighting Illini at the Jon Davis Wrestling Center in Edwardsville, Ill., at 7 p.m. CT. Tiger fans with tickets to the sold out event are encouraged to wear BLACK.
This dual will mark the 10th time in Missouri history that they’ve opened their season against the Illini. It is also the second straight season that these two teams have met to start the year, as the Tigers just edged out Illinois by an 18-16 final last season at the Hearnes Center. Illinois holds the all-time advantage over the Tigers with a 19-10 record.
For the Tigers, they are ranked in the top-15 to open the season for the ninth straight year as they start the campaign at No. 11 in the NWCA/USA Today Division I Coaches Poll. The Illini, ranked 10th in the same poll, have been ranked to start the season in 10 of the last 11 years.
Missouri will feature seven ranked wrestlers in their projected 10-man starting lineup, while the Illini will have six, including top-ranked 141-pounder Jimmy Kennedy. Of the Tigers’ seven ranked grapplers, five of those rank within the top-15, highlighted by heavyweight junior Dom Bradley, who ranks third across the board in major polls.
The Tigers return three NCAA qualifiers from last season - senior Todd Schavrien, junior Dorian Henderson and sophomore Brent Haynes. Schavrien ranks as high as No. 12 in the rankings, while Henderson comes in as high as No. 14. Both grapplers are coming off two straight NCAA appearances. Schavrien will once again compete at 141 pounds, while Henderson will move between 174 and 184 pounds.
Freshman Alan Waters is the only true freshman in the starting lineup for Mizzou, and will make his first collegiate start on Friday at 125 pounds. He’s already 5-0 this year after winning the Lindenwood Open, where he pinned three of his five opponents.
Sophomore Nathan McCormick resumes his role as the starter at 133 pounds after a 19-win redshirt freshman campaign. Junior Patrick Wright, who started last season at 157 pounds, will move up to 174 or 184 pounds this season.
Two redshirt freshmen will be getting action for the first time in their careers, with Kyle Bradley and Zach Toal cracking the starting lineup. Bradley, wrestling at 149, won 13 matches during his redshirt season, while Toal, a 165 pound grappler, went 16-6 with four pins last year.
Jake Glore, a sophomore, will see his first dual action at 197 pounds, while Danny Gonsor, a 157 pound transfer from the University of Virginia, will earn his first start in the black and gold. Gonsor qualified for Nationals last season after going 19-11 on the year.
Scouting the Illini
The Illini look to bounce back from what they considered to be a disappointing season that saw them finish eighth at the Big Ten Championships and 23rd at the NCAA Championships. Illinois head coach Jim Heffernan, now in his second season, has a strong core that features six nationally-ranked wrestlers on a team that ranks as high as No. 9 nationally.
Leading the way for the Illini is senior Jimmy Kennedy, a 141 pound wrestler who is the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the country according to WIN Magazine. At 174 pounds, junior Jordan Blanton, the only returning All-American on the Illinois squad, ranks in at No. 3 in the nation. Also in Illinois’ starting lineup are No. 17 B.J. Futrell (133), No. 31 Eric Terrazas (149), No. 17 Conrad Polz (165) and No. 30 Tony Dallago (184).
Illinois will face six other top-25 teams this year, including No. 21 Purdue, No. 20 Northwestern, No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 4 Minnesota and No. 12 Ohio State.
Live scoring will be available for this matchup through the NWCA Online Scorebook. A link to this event can be found on the sidebar at mutigers.com.
The Tigers will return home next weekend for their first dual of the season at the Hearnes Center. Missouri will host a quad-meet featuring Lindenwood, Hofstra and No. 22 Oregon State. Missouri will take on Lindenwood at 1 p.m. CT, Hofstra at 2:45 p.m. CT and Oregon State at 4:30 p.m. CT.
The Central Missouri Open
For the second straight season, Missouri head coach Brian Smith is taking his squad to the University of Central Missouri Open. The all day event will be held this Saturday, Nov. 13 at 10 a.m. CT in Warrensburg, Mo. Last year, Todd Schavrien, Nicholas Marable and Dorian Henderson each claimed titles in their respective weight classes.
In the 64 seasons of Tiger wrestling, Mizzou sits with a 35-29 record in season openers and are 8-4 under current head coach Brian Smith.
Missouri has opened its season against Illinois on nine prior occasions, and the Fighting Illini hold the 6-3 advantage in season openers and 19-10 lead in the all-time series. Former Missouri Head Coach Hap Whitney was the first Tiger wrestling coach to guide his team to a win over Illinois, doing so during the 1967-68 campaign, 24-9. Missouri’s fifth head coach, Bob Kopnisky, owns the most wins over Illinois, four (between 1977-1980). Smith claimed Missouri’s first win in four meetings with Illinois by way of a 20-13 victory in 2001. Last season, the Tigers edged out the Illini with an 18-16 victory in Columbia.
Missouri’s season opener with Illinois marks the 17th time in program history that the Tigers will open the year against a Big Ten school. The Tigers have won their last four season openers against Big Ten programs.
Three Take Titles at Lindenwood
While several Tigers were competing at the annual Black and Gold wrestle-off’s on Oct. 30, the rest of the team was getting their first taste of action this season at the Lindenwood Open. Three Mizzou grapplers, freshman Alan Waters, junior Danny Gonsor and sophomore Nick Gregoris took first place in their class, while nine Tigers in all secured medals on the day.
Waters entered the 125 pound class as the No. 2 seed, and coasted through the first two rounds with back-to-back pins, putting Paul Myers (UN-SIUE) on his back in 1:33 and defeating Ben Seglin (WC) in 1:12. After a 4-1 decision and a 6-0 decision to advance to the finals, Waters pinned No. 4 seed Paulie Hansen (MVC) in 1:00 to take the crown.
At 157 pounds, Gonsor was the top-ranked seed in his class and lived up to the hype, as he dominated his five matches on his way to the title. Gonsor, a transfer from the University of Virginia, pinned his first three opponents, taking out Kyle Dooley (UN-ILL) in 4:14, Josh Ballard (MCK) in 1:52 and Josh Mccoy (MMI) in 0:53 to advance to the semifinals. From there, he picked up a 15-0 technical fall victory over No. 4 seed Jake Johnson (LU) to move on to the championship, where he dropped No. 2 seed Jackson Morse (UN-ILL) by a 17-0 score for his second straight technical fall victory, earning him the title.
Nick Gregoris, who entered the tournament unseeded at 165 pounds, took first place with an impressive showing. After pinning his first opponent, Zack Long (MVC) in 1:11, Gregoris then knocked off No. 1 seed Ryan Moyer (UN-LU) by a 5-2 score. From there, he picked up a 12-1 major decision over No. 8 Parker Madl (UN-OU), and defeated No. 4 seed Drae Cox (LU), 7-1, to move on to the finals. Gregoris was crowned champion after pinning fellow Tiger, freshman Phillip Perry, in 1:01.
Tigers Return Three NCAA QUalifiers
The 2010-11 Missouri wrestling team will return three of their six NCAA qualifiers from last season. Senior Todd Schavrien, junior Dorian Henderson and sophomore Brent Haynes each qualified for nationals last year.
Schavrien made his second straight NCAA appearance last year, qualifying at 141 pounds. After dropping his opening match against No. 1 seeded Kyle Dake, Schavrien bounced back with two straight wins before being eliminated by the No. 3 seed from Minnesota, Michael Thorn.
Henderson moved down to 174 pounds last year and earned his second straight bid to nationals, where he went 2-2 with a 3-2 win over Bucknell’s Shane Riccio and an 11-3 major decision over conference opponent Ryan Burk from Iowa State.
Haynes qualified for nationals as a redshirt freshman at 197 pounds, and put together three victories before being eliminated. He opened up with an 18-6 major decision over Eric Schuth from Ohio, abd bounced back from a tough loss with an 8-2 win over Richard Starks of Army and an 11-0 major decision over Ohio State’s Cody Magrum.
Of the 41 grapplers on the 2010-11 Missouri wrestling squad, 16 are new to the Tiger program this season. The 2010-11 class was ranked as the 11th-best incoming class by InterMat, with freshmen Alan Waters, Drake Houdashelt and Simon Kitzis rankings in the top 100 individually. The 13 freshmen are joined by three transfers - junior Danny Gonsor (Virginia), sophomore Mike Larson (Cal State University Bakersfield) and sophomore Clarence Neely (Meramec). Both Gonsor and Larson qualified for the NCAA Championships last season.
In Missouri wrestling’s 64 years, nine Tigers have earned back-to-back All-America honors. Thirty Tigers have collected 46 honors with 13 earning two or more accolades, but only Dave Young (1981-82), Shaon Fry (1993-94), Scott Barker (2002-03), Ben Askren (2004-07), Tyler McCormick (2006-07), Nicholas Marable (2008-09), Maxwell Askren (2008-10), Raymond Jordan (2008-09) and Mark Ellis (2009-10) managed top eight finishes in consecutive years.
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