In a Year of “Lasts,” Missouri Wrestling Wins First Title

Saturday, March 3 –

It has been a year of many “lasts” for the Missouri Tigers. But on Saturday, March 3, the Mizzou wrestling team did something for the first time in their history: win a Big XII championship.

The scene could not have been scripted better. Not only was this the last time Missouri would compete in the Big XII championships, Missouri played host at the friendly confines of the Hearnes Center. Competing against tough squads such as Iowa State, as well as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State who defeated the Tigers earlier in the season, winning a championship was a tough task ahead.

No. 1 at 125 pounds Alan Waters for Missouri got things going early on. He took the individual championship at 125 pounds with ease, taking down Oklahoma State’s Jon Morrison and Oklahoma’s Jarrod Patterson. Drake Houdashelt and Mike Larson also earned championships at their weight levels at 157 and 184 pounds, respectively.

The real big win of the day, however, was courtesy of Missouri’s Zach Toal. Toal, the three seed at 165 pounds, defeated No. 2 Patrick Graham of Oklahoma. Toal then upset No.1 seed, and fourth nationally, Andrew Sorenson of Iowa State 3-2.

Iowa State was able to help the Tigers clinch the title in the final match of the night at the Heavyweight level. Missouri held a three point advantage over Oklahoma State, looking for their third straight conference title, with one match remaining. However, the Cyclones’ Matt Gibson took down the Cowboys’ Austin Marsden 8-3, sealing that the Big XII trophy would stay with Missouri, and sending the crowd into pandemonium.

Missouri qualified nine of its 10 wrestlers for the NCAA Championships. This total ties last year’s record-setting total.

The Tigers won’t have to go far for the NCAA Championships. They’ll just have to take the short two hour drive down I-70 East to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis in what could essentially be another home match. With nine wrestlers partaking in championship weekend, Missouri is hopeful that there is plenty of the familiar black and gold spread throughout the arena.

The NCAA Championships will take March 15-17.

– Brian Nestel
Staff Writer