J’den Cox shines as Mizzou places fifth at Nationals

J'den Cox shines as Mizzou places fifth at Nationals

Photo courtesy of The Maneater

Justin Bjorseth, 23 Sports Reporter

The NCAA wrestling championships, or March Matness, came to a close on Saturday in St. Louis. Olympic bronze medalist J’den Cox (197) achieved a historic feat, becoming the first Missouri wrestler to win three national championships. He was joined in the finals by both Lavion Mayes (149) and Joey Lavallee (157). The all-around success from the Mizzou wrestlers allowed the team to place fifth at the tournament with a total of 86.5 points.

Overall, Missouri was able to send an impressive five different wrestlers to the quarterfinals of the tournament. The three eventual finalists, who were also the only three to qualify for the semifinals, were joined by 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman as well as 165-pounder Daniel Lewis.

The weekend proved to be historic for the Tigers, as it was the first time in program history that they sent more than one wrestler to the finals. The five wrestlers named also qualified for All-American status, a number that ties the program record for most in an individual season. The overall team finish was also good for third-best in program history. Although the Tigers fell just one spot short of a team trophy, there is certainly nothing for them to be ashamed of this season.

In the final round, Mayes and Lavallee would each fall to the No. 1 ranked wrestlers in their respective classes, both of whom represented the eventual first place team, the Penn State Nittany Lions. Lavallee, fresh off his first All-American season, will return to the mat for the Tigers next year and look to repeat this year’s success in his senior season. On the other hand, Mayes ended his Mizzou career as one of the most decorated Tigers in program history, becoming just the fourth wrestler to be an All-American on three separate occasions.

For Cox, this was the third time in four years that the Olympic medalist ended his season as a national champion. The 8-2 decision victory capped off his perfect 28-0 senior season. His dominance is even more impressive after breaking down the 28 wins: 11 decisions, six falls, six technical falls and seven major decisions. Cox joined Ben Askren as the only Tigers to ever complete perfect rounds, and they are the only two to ever receive four All-American honors. Cox has certainly become a hometown hero to the people of Columbia, and his legacy and records will forever live in Mizzou history.

The 2016-2017 season was one of the best in Missouri history, and the Tigers will look to continue to build off it as the program moves forward.