Missouri wrestling captures hard-fought victory over Old Dominion

Missouri got its first dual win against MAC competition in a 36-3 victory.

Maneater File Photo

Missouri wrestling recorded its first conference victory of the season on Saturday against Old Dominion, kicking off Mid-American Conference competition in style.

While the final team scores show a 36-3 victory for the Tigers, the matchup was a lot more competitive than the final box score shows. Out of the 10 matches at Hearnes Center, six of the matches were decided by six or fewer points, including an opening match in the 125-pound weight class between Barlow McGhee and Michael McGee, which resulted in a 2-1 win for McGee in the second tiebreaker period.

After the initial match put the Monarchs up 3-0, the Tigers did not concede another team point. But it didn’t come easy for Brian Smith’s team. In the first five matches before intermission, the Tigers recorded just six takedowns. Fortunately for Missouri, the Monarchs went the entire competition without scoring an offensive point.

The first half of the matches ended in two solid victories for the Tigers. First, at the 149 spot, Grant Leeth pinned Kenan Carter in the third period for the first and only fall of the day. Then, Joey Lavalle, the No. 2 wrestler in the country in his weight class, won by decision over No. 13 Larry Early in a chippy match that included an unnecessary roughness call on Early in the first period.

After the intermission, the Tigers looked like a different team. Unlike the first half of the dual, the Tigers combined for eight takedowns and 16 near-fall points in the last five matches.

Smith said he told his team they have to be more aggressive, and he hopes they will catch on.

“It’s the same thing I tell them all the time — keep shooting, and you’ll score more,” Smith said. “The more shots you can take, the more points you can score. I tell them that all the time … We are just not shooting enough. They need to learn to get on the legs more and get on the attack more. But they will. They’ll improve.”

One wrestler on Smith’s squad that doesn’t have to be told twice to be aggressive is 174-pounder Daniel Lewis. In Saturday’s match against Seldon Wright, Lewis won by technical fall by a score of 15-0. Lewis recorded two takedowns and two four-point near falls in his opening conference match, and said he feels like he is moving towards where he wants to be.

“I definitely feel like I have hit a stride,” Lewis said. “Definitely not my peak, though. That’s for later in the season. But I feel comfortable doing some things. Each one of these duals just shows me more that I can work on, so that’s helpful.”

The Tigers will host the Ohio Bobcats at Hearnes Center next Sunday, Dec. 10, at 1 p.m.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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