Dec. 4, 2009
The Missouri wrestling team returns to the mats Sunday, Dec. 6, when 16 Tigers compete at the annual Nittany Lion Open hosted by Penn State in State College, Pa. Beginning at 7:30 a.m. (CT) in Rec Hall, Missouri's grapplers will take on some of the nation's elite in the non-team scored open tournament. Missouri, ranked as high as ninth in the nation, is one of 10 top-20 programs competing in the all-day event. Nearly 600 wrestlers are expected to challenge for one of 10 Nittany Lion titles.
The tournament, which features brackets containing as many as 86 wrestlers (149 pounds), will run with a single elimination format until a field of 32 wrestlers per bracket has been reached. From there, a double elimination format will be put in place. A total of 14 mats will be used for the annual event.
Missouri's field of 16 competitors includes eight ranked among the top-25 of their respective weight class. Sitting with a 7-0 record, 125 pound true freshman Brad Wisdom cracked the nation's top-25 and stands at 22nd. Wisdom, redshirt freshman Nathan McCormick (133) and senior Nicholas Marable (165) are the only Missouri wrestlers slated to compete in their respective weight class. Missouri Head Coach Brian Smith has traveled three Tiger grapplers to compete at 141 pounds (Todd Schavrien, Cody Farinella and Nick Hucke), and two at 149 (Brandon Wiest and Scott O'Donnell), 157 (Patrick Wright and Nick Gregoris), 174 (Dorian Henderson and Todd Porter), 197-pounds (Brent Haynes and Jake Glore) and heavyweight (Mark Ellis and Dominique Bradley). The only weight class not represented by a Missouri wrestler this Sunday wll be the 184 pound bracket. Senior two-time All-American Maxwell Askren, Missouri's starter at 184 pounds, is expected to return to the lineup in time for The Midlands, Dec. 29-30.
Tiger heavyweights Ellis and Bradley are each ranked in separate polls among the top five competitors in the nation. Ellis, the 2009 heavyweight national champion, is 4-2 on the year while Bradley, the Junior World Champion, is 9-2 most recently collecting a first place finish at the Missouri open, Nov. 22.
Two-time All-American Marable will put his spotless 12-0 record on the line. Ranked sixth in the nation at 165 pounds, Marable is on a 13-match win streak that dates back to his final bout of the 2009 NCAA Championships. This marks the longest win streak in Marable's collegiate career.
Missouri is the sole Big 12 school competing in the Nittany Lion Open. Over 10 conferences will be represented at the tournament including schools from the Big Ten, Big East, ACC, Colonial Athletic Conference and more. Cornell is the highest ranked team set to compete at the Open, and stands at No. 4 in the nation.
The Tigers have picked up numerous bonus point victories this campaign. McCormick leads the squad with six falls, his fastest coming in 1:56. Marable and Schavrien, Missouri's 141 pound competitor, are tied for the most wins by major decision this campaign, three. Missouri's 16 wrestlers that are set to compete Sunday in Pennsylvania have combined for 19 of Missouri's 37 wins by major decision this season and 25 of the squad's 53 wins by fall. Additionally, this elite group has managed 10 of the team's 20 wins by technical fall.
Following the all-day Open on Sunday, the Tigers will return home and continue preparing for the prestigious Midlands Tournament, Dec. 29-30. The Tigers are set to close out the 2009 calendar year in Evanston, Ill., and will return to dual competition on Saturday, Jan. 9 at the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Duals held in Cedar Falls, Iowa on the campus of Northern Iowa.