Ellis wins national championship

Tigers finish seventh overall at NCAA Championships.
Junior Mark Ellis reacts after his victory over Duke's Konrad Dudziak in the heavyweight final of NCAA Tournament on Saturday in St. Louis. Ellis is the second MU wrestler to win a national title and the first to appear in an NCAA final since Ben Askren in 2007.

Missouri junior wrestler Mark Ellis simply thought of his opponents as “dream stoppers,” though none of them were able to stop Ellis’ dream of becoming a national champion.

Ellis competed against Duke redshirt junior Konrad Dudziak in the finals and won 3-2.

After a scoreless first period, Ellis escaped in the second period to lead by one. Dudziak responded with an escape of his own to tie the match and send it to overtime.

Neither wrestler was able to score in the first sudden-death overtime. Dudziak was down first in the second period, and Ellis was able to ride him out. Ellis managed a reversal to receive two points. After a Dudziak escape with just a few seconds remaining, the celebration was on. The Missouri crowd gave Ellis a standing ovation, causing Ellis to tear up.

“So many things — Coach Smith coming through for me and making me stay on the team, (volunteer assistant coach) Ben Askren, everything he’s done,” Ellis said. “I thought about walking away a couple of times, and people believed in me and I’m just so grateful for the people that God has put in my life. If it wasn’t for Ben, there’s no way I’d be here and be a national champ. He just pushed me and pushed me and never let me walk away. This is my dream come true.”

Ellis moved in with Askren, an NCAA Championship winner in 2006 and 2007, and said Askren’s lifestyle and toughness have encouraged him.

Askren was also having a hard time keeping his emotions in check during Ellis’ press conference.

“It’s hard not to get emotional when you see a kid that happy,” he said.

Ellis is one of Missouri’s five All-Americans, which is a school record.

Senior Raymond Jordan captured third place by avenging his loss in the Big 12 Championship to Nebraska's Brandon Browne. Jordan dominated the match, shutting out Browne and winning 4-0.

"It's a good feeling," Jordan said. "Obviously my goal was to be a national champion, but when things don't happen the way you want them to, you have to put that behind you. I was really disappointed last night, but I had to come out and just have some fun today."

Senior Michael Chandler captured fifth place by defeating Bloomsburg's Matt Moley 2-1. The win against Moley marked Chandler's 100th career victory at Missouri.

"It's always nice to go out on a win like that," Chandler said. "Having that last match be my 100th win was really something special. I don't think it's hit me yet that my career's over and it's the last time I'll get to compete wearing the black and gold, but I'm really excited just to be an All-American."

Junior Nick Marable suffered a head injury during his first match, which he lost. Marable then had to fight through the consolation bracket and was able to claim seventh.

"It's been a rough weekend," coach Brian Smith said of Marable. "He's had an upset stomach and a small concussion. It's been hard. For him to get through and still take seventh, it's a testament to his character and his pride in the program."

Junior Max Askren finished in seventh place by defeating Boise State's Brent Chriswell 3-0. Redshirt freshman Dorian Henderson, sophomore Todd Schavrien and senior Marcus Hoehn were unable to place.

Share: Facebook / Twitter / Google+

Article comments


This item does not have any approved comments yet.

Post a comment

Please provide a full name for all comments. We don't post obscene, offensive or pure hate speech.