Photo courtesy of The Maneater
Aaron Carter, 23 Sports Reporter
While Missouri wrestling had a fantastic season as a whole, winning its sixth consecutive Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship, it was largely overshadowed by senior J’den Cox.
Cox came into the year after a bronze medal finish at the Rio Olympics, something no other collegiate wrestler in the United States can compare to. Cox brought his dominance in South America to North America, as he won his fourth consecutive MAC title, this one at the 197 lb. weight class. With his fourth conference title, Cox joined Drake Houdashelt as the only other wrestler in program history to accomplish this feat (Houdashelt did so from 2012-2015).
Cox added to his long list of accolades by being named USA Wrestling Athlete of the Week during the MAC Championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Cox seems to be an unstoppable force going into the NCAA Tournament, which he has already won twice, with a perfect record (23-0) and a number one seed to his name. Cox will face American’s Jeric Kasunic in the opening round at 197 pounds.
Outside of Cox’s quest to make even more history, there are other Tigers also competing in the NCAAs in St. Louis. Five other Tigers earned top-16 seeds in the tournament.
Redshirt senior 149-pounder Lavion Mayes (19-2) and redshirt junior 157-pounder Joey Lavallee (25-1) were both awarded a three seed in their individual brackets coming off of their titles in the MAC Championships. Mayes is entering his fourth tournament, while Lavalle is entering his third tournament. Mayes will face George Mason’s Sahid Kargbo, while Lavallee will wrestle Princeton’s Mike D’Angelo.
Redshirt sophomore 165-pounder Daniel Lewis (24-3) enters the tournament as the sixth seed. Lewis finished fourth at the 2016 NCAAs and will wrestle either Luke Zilverberg of South Dakota State or Tyrel White of Columbia in the first round.
The last two seeded wrestlers for Mizzou are both making their respective NCAA debuts. Redshirt freshman 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman (24-5) and redshirt sophomore 133-pounder John Erneste (23-6) will be seeded eighth and tenth, respectively. Eierman will wrestle Army’s Logan Everett in the first round, while Erneste will face Harvard’s Jeffrey Ott.
Redshirt junior 125-pounder Barlow McGhee and redshirt freshman heavyweight Austin Myers are the last two Tiger wrestlers that will make the trip to St. Louis as participants, but they will do so without receiving a seed. McGhee, making his second NCAA tournament appearance, will wrestle Stanford’s Gabe Townsell in a pigtail match, with the winner advancing to a first round matchup against two seed Joey McKenna of Virginia Tech. Myers will wrestle eight seed Michael Kroells of Minnesota in the first round.
Wrestling will kick off from the Scottrade Center on March 16 and will continue through March 18. Two sessions will occur on each day, and the finals will be held on Friday and Saturday evening.