Wrestling team heads to NCAA Championship

The Tigers will have a home state advantage in the St. Louis tournament.

The Missouri wrestling team is heading into this weekend’s NCAA Championships with a lot of confidence and six men seeded in the top in their respective weight classes.

This weekend’s tournament has special meaning for senior Michael Chandler, who grew up in St. Louis, where the tournament will take place.

“It’s awesome for me the way it ended up in St. Louis, so I’m going to have a lot of support for myself personally,” Chandler said. “It’s really exciting to get to wrestle in front of a home crowd.”

Chandler has given No. 1 ranked Jordan Burroughs of Nebraska everything he can handle in their two matches so far this season. Burroughs won both bouts, but had to rely on last-second takedowns both times. Chandler will look to finally defeat Burroughs if they wrestle again.

In their last meeting at the Big 12 Championship, Chandler controlled the majority of the match, scoring the first takedown and racking up over three minutes of riding time, but was taken down by Burroughs with 10 seconds left in the first period and eight seconds left in the second period to lose 6-4.

“I hope I do see him again,” Chandler said. “I’ve been in the match both times. We definitely found out that we can ride him as long as we want. He’s probably going to shoot in the last 30 seconds of each period and if he doesn’t score there, than he isn’t going to score.”

This is Chandler’s fourth NCAA Championship, but he wasn’t able to place at any of the previous three.

“It’s awesome to be a four-time qualifier, but obviously, I had my shortcomings the past three years,” Chandler said. “That’s not how it’s going to end this year. I think experience is a big thing, but that’s not to say that guys who are going for the first time aren’t prepared. It’s just about going out and wrestling.”

Junior Nick Marable will have to deliver on his preseason hype this weekend, when he was ranked No. 1 in the country for several weeks before suffering several upsets.

“I’m pretty confident that I can go in there and win nationals,” Marable said. “I know that I can, I know that I can beat everybody if I wrestle like I can. No matter what I’m seeded, I know that I’m going to wrestle and I’m going to win.”

Coach Brian Smith said that with the event being held at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, his wrestlers will have an advantage.

“I told these guys that we’re at home, the Scottrade Center is our home building now,” Smith said. “We’ve sold over 1,100 tickets in our section, so we’re going to have the emotion of the crowd behind us now.

The eight qualifiers for MU ties a school record set in 2007, when the Tigers took third. Competition will begin on Thursday morning and will end Saturday night, with the finals airing live on ESPN.

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