Well it is the start of another great season, and I am happy to be back bringing you previews and recaps this year. Tomorrow at 4pm Mizzou will open their season against Illinois at the women’s softball stadium that is adjacent to the Hearnes Center. Before I get into the match-ups all rankings utilized are courtesy of Flowrestling.
Barlow McGhee vs. #17 Travis Piotrowski
McGhee had an up and down season last year in a year in which expectations were pretty high. He showed flashes of the well rounded chain offense he had flashed the year prior, but he often seemed hesitant to pull the trigger. McGhee at his best can be a very solid wrestler on his feet with some limitations in his mat wrestling. Piotrowski is a bit longer for the weight and is pretty tough to finish cleanly on. He is also fairly tough on top. Keys for McGhee in this match are being aggressive throughout and building a lead, because he may struggle some on the mat. I look at this match as a toss-up and will go with McGhee starting his year off right with the slight upset and taking this by a 5-4 type score.
Prediction: McGhee 5-4 (MIZZ 3-0)
#9 John Erneste vs. #15 Dylan Duncan
This match is a great early test for Erneste. He split extremely close decisions with Duncan last season, and this is the type of match Erneste will have to win if he is to achieve AA status in March. Erneste is a hammer on top who favors a cross body ride to a spladle or cross body cradle. On his feet Erneste is an extremely tough hand fighter who typically goes to a russian tie to set up his slide by and his low single. He is also a very talented scrambler. Duncan is a little more aggressive on his feet with his shot volume, but is also a tough top wrestler and scrambler. I like Erneste to get a first period takedown and really set the tone with a tough ride and take this match in a stingy low scoring affair.
Prediction: Erneste 4-2 (MIZZ 6-0)
#4 Jaydin Eierman vs. Mike Carr
Eierman wrestled a lot this summer and recently finished third at the U23 Freestyle trials. He is very battle tested and ready to go. I expect to see him look to go big early and I believe he will either throw or utilize his top work to grab a crowd pleasing fall here.
Carr is a redshirt frosh and he is unlikely to be able to match Eierman’s pace for a full seven minutes here.
Prediction: Eierman by fall (MIZZ 12-0)
Grant Leeth vs. Eric Barone
Leeth is a newcomer to the Tiger line-up this season after having his past two years cut off before they really began due to injury. Leeth is tough on his feet and rarely gets out of position in neutral. He has great offense from motion and generally will go to a high-c or low single to finish to his attacks. He is solid on bottom and is similar to McGhee in that he will not often look for long rides against solid competition. Barone is a borderline rankable commodity who was an NCAA qualifier last season for Illinois. He is very solid and tough to score on. He is a very solid handfighter. These guys appear very close in ability off the jump. I am going to take Leeth to establish himself as a high upside guy with a tight win here.
Prediction: Leeth Dec 3-2 (MIZZ 15-0)
#2 Joey Lavallee vs. Kyle Langenderfer
I am really excited for this match. Lavallee is extremely slick and has a great high crotch and slick turk transitions from neutral to turns. Langenderfer is very long and funky and could present an interesting match-up here. Lavallee has a chance to push for a major here if Langenderfer tries to get too funky here. Ultimately Lavallee is too solid for Langenderfer and will likely take this one by a couple takedowns here.
Prediction: Lavallee Dec 7-3 (MIZZ 18-0)
Connor Flynn vs. #2 Isaiah Martinez
Flynn has a ton of potential to be in the AA mix this year for Missouri. He is very talented on top and in neutral. In this match however it would be extremely impressive if Flynn does not surrender bonus against the two time NCAA champion. Flynn will look to score early and put a ride on here, but Martinez pace and underhook to offense are extremely hard to contend with. Martinez is also an extremely tough guy on top if he looks to ride. I look for Martinez to come out and put up a hard fought major decision here. He just has too much offense and power for Flynn here.
Martinez Maj. 16-7 (MIZZ 18-4)
#5 Daniel Lewis vs. #20 Xavier Montalvo
This will be Lewis first match up at 174 in his career. We will see right away how big Lewis is for the weight as Montalvo is a full size 174 who just crept into the rankings. Lewis a punishing hammer on top who is underrated somewhat for his neutral game. He has a slick double and swing single. Lewis had some gas tank issues last season at times, so it will be interesting to see if those issues get alleviated up at 174 this year. This match will be interesting in neutral as Montalvo was really talented there in high school, but Lewis top game makes him a safe pick here.
Prediction: Lewis Dec 7-2 (MIZZ 21-4)
Canten Marriott vs. #6 Emery Parker
Marriott is a very talented redshirt freshman. He has a lot of great angles and movement creation in his handfighting and is a confident leg attacker and scrambler. My concerns with Marriott lie mostly in his horsepower. He is tall enough for the weight, but I don’t know if he is strong enough to not get horsed by larger 184’s. Parker is an extremely strong and huge 184 lb guy. Parker is a talented upper body guy, which will make for an interesting contrast in styles here. I think Parker wins here with a couple big throws, but I like Marriott to fight off the pin in this one.
Prediction: Parker Maj Marriott 15-7 (MIZZ 21-8)
#3 Willie Miklus vs. Andre Lee
It will be weird seeing the 197 lb weight class not manned by J’den Cox this season, but it will be ably manned by a national title contender in his own right in two-time All-American Willie Miklus. Miklus is an amazing scrambler and prolific leg attacker. Miklus is also an absolute hammer on top. I like Miklus to dominate the overmatched Lee in this one to the tune of an early fall to start his season off well. Lee is a solid guy, but is a bit undersized for the weight and is unlikely to beat any ranked guys this season.
Prediction: Miklus by Fall (MIZZ 27-8)
Austin Myers vs. #20 Brooks Black
It will be interesting to see how much growth Myers was able to do this summer from neutral and the mat. He has had a tough time in his career escaping from bottom from larger heavies. Black is huge and owns a 4-0 win over Myers from last season. Myers looks for a power high crotch often finished with a large lift to a double finish or to cut the corner with his offense. Black has a good low single and also scores a lot from go behinds. I like Myers to close the gap some here with Black, but I believe at this stage in their careers Black is the more mat savvy guy and that will make the difference here.
Prediction: Black Dec 4-2 (MIZZ 27-11)
The 125, 133, 149, and heavyweight matches are all true toss-ups and I picked those weights 3-1 in favor of the Tigers. It is certainly possible the dual score tightens up if Mizzou were to drop a couple more of those. I like Mizzou to start off with a big win over a good Illinois team.