‘One of the better days’: No. 5 Missouri wrestling leaves Cowboy Challenge with three championships

The Tigers dominated the competition in Oklahoma State’s Cowboy Challenge with the younger wrestlers taking the stage.

No. 5 Missouri wrestling traveled to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for the Cowboy Challenge tournament after finishing a perfect 2021 dual schedule with last week's 35-3 win against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. The tournament included host No. 6 Oklahoma State, Wyoming and West Virginia.

Junior Brock Mauller, redshirt junior Dack Punke and true freshman Joshua Edmond all won first place in their respective weight classes.

In a nail-biter matchup, Mauller faced sudden victory to become the 149-pound champion in the Cowboy Challenge finals. He faced Oklahoma State’s redshirt senior Boo Lewallen, who is ranked No. 4 in the country.

By the time the third period had come to an end they were tied 4-4. Their first overtime was sudden death, but the score remained the same as the wrestlers went into timed overtime.

In the third and final overtime Mauller put Lewallen in a cradle and eventually received the two-point near fall for a 7-5 score. The win kept Mauller undefeated for the season and gave viewers a glimpse of what is to come in the upcoming NCAA Championship.

Redshirt junior Dack Punke took 1st in the 125-pound weight class for the tournament. He went up against teammate sophomore Noah Surtin, who received second place.The matchup went into sudden death, which Punke won with a quick takedown against Surtin.

True freshman Joshua Edmond won the 141-pound title after an injury default against OSU’s redshirt senior Dusty Hone. Although not an ideal win, Edmond was ahead 2-1 before Hone’s injury default.

The match showcased how Edmond has improved throughout the season. He continues to impress on the mat following his impressive high school career where he lost only three of his 120 matchups. He continues to be undefeated for Missouri.

True freshmen Trey Crawford, 133, and Sean Harman, 174, as well as freshman Duwayne Villalpando, 184, also impressed with three third place finishes in their respective weight classes.

Many of the wrestlers that had not seen action this season for the Tigers showcased their talent in the first 11 mat assignments. Missouri's Jacob Raschka took on Oklahoma State's Daniel Jezik, Noah Surtin against Trevor Mastrogiovanni, Cam Validiviez against Dalton Fix and Trey Crawford against Reece Witcraft.

Raschka started the tournament with two quick and explosive takedowns and won against OSU’s Daniel Jezik 12-7. This set the stage for Missouri’s five secured wins in the quarterfinals and four wins in the semifinals.

“When I think of all the young guys we had wrestling today,”Missouri head coach Brian Smith said. “For me as a coach, to get to see them and how they wrestle in a tournament was one of the better days.”

The tournament showcased many of the Missouri wrestlers’ skills and how they will perform in the upcoming MAC Championships on Feb. 26-27. After that, the season will end at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Missouri.

Edited by Kyle Pinnell | kpinnell@themaneater.com

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