By Peter Terpstra
DES MOINES, IOWA — Missouri’s final day of the NCAA wrestling championships seemed to follow the trend of the entire tournament.
On paper, Missouri finished with five All-Americans (eighth place finish or better), but coach Brian Smith walked off the mat Friday morning feeling the Tigers had potential to do more.
“I’m pleased we had five All-Americans, just not happy with the outcome of today. I’m a little frustrated. After a day like today you just need some time to get your head focused,” Smith said.
After losing in the semifinals Friday night, 125-pound wrestler and top seed Alan Waters bounced back with a pin over North Dakota State’s Trent Sprenkle in the first period to reach the third-place match. But in that match Waters lost to Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett 6-1 to finish in fourth place.
Missouri’s other top-seeded wrestler, Dom Bradley, started off his morning with a win as well, over Central Michigan’s Jarod Trice. Bradley’s beat Trice for the third time on the season with a 5-2 win to advance to the third-place match against Oklahoma State’s Alan Gelogaev. Gelogaev was the only wrestler to beat Bradley in the regular season and he would take the third place match from Missouri’s heavyweight 3-2.
“I’m not frustrated at them. I’m frustrated for them because it didn’t end the way they wanted it to,” Smith said. “I’m always proud of this team, but right now I’m just frustrated.”
Bradley finished in fourth place and ended his season 39-3. The Missouri heavyweight exited the mat Saturday as a two-time All-American after taking third in 2011.
Missouri’s unseeded semifinalist Drake Houdashelt found himself in a rematch from earlier in the tournament in the Saturday morning 149-pound wrestlebacks. Houdashelt faced Minnesota’s Dylan Ness, who he upset in the second round of the tournament on Thursday. Ness would get revenge beating Houdashelt with a takedown in the final 10 seconds of the match, moving the Missouri wrestler to contend for fifth.
For fifth place, Houdashelt lost grip of Oregon State’s Scott Sakaguchi to give up a match-deciding escape. The Missouri coaching staff challenged the call, but it was upheld. Houdashelt finished sixth in the nation as a redshirt sophomore.
Houdashelt says his goal next year is already set.
“The goal is to be a national champion. Nothing short,” Houdashelt said.
At 133 pounds, Missouri’s Nathan McCormick left his seventh place match in tears. McCormick started the match off strong jumping out to a four-point lead, but Oklahoma’s Cody Brewer would storm back. With the help of a three-point near fall in the final 30 seconds, Brewer beat McCormick 15-10 in the Missouri captain’s last collegiate match.
“I think you have a choice in life. You can dwell on the bad things that happened, or you can choose to look at the positives. Which is what I’m going to do,” McCormick said.
At 184 pounds, Mike Larson faced a familiar opponent in Ryan Loder from Northern Iowa. Loder beat Larson in the MAC tournament semifinals 6-1 and in the second round of the national tournament 2-0. History would fall on Loder’s side once again. The Northern Iowa wrestler beat Larson 8-0 leaving the Missouri wrestler in eighth place.
“I’ve told you guys that this team wanted to accomplish great things and I think, overall, they did,” Smith said.