Missouri Natives Making Their Marks at Olympic Trials

The State of Missouri and its wrestling has not been known as a wrestling powerhouse compared to Pennsylvania or Maryland.  However, each of the past several Olympic Cycles Missouri has increased the success and the overall number of wrestlers that come from the Show-Me State at the Olympic Team Qualification Process and Trials Tournament.  This year, Missouri had six wrestlers slotted to compete in the finalized Olympic Team Trials this past weekend on the Penn State University campus.  Some of these wrestlers are veterans of the world team scene such as Dom Bradley (4th Olympic Trials) and J’Den Cox (3rd Olympic Trials) and we have some newcomers to the Senior Circuit such as Luke Lilledahl (who is not the only current high school student in the tournament).

Starting with a negative note, just a few days before the tournament it was announced that 2x NCAA Champion Keegan O’Toole had suffered an injury and would have to vacate his spot in the 74 KG Freestyle Bracket.  He is still eligible for the Senior World Championships that will take place this fall, should he physically be able to, and choose to compete.  

Jarrett Jacques, Mizzou Alum and Columbia Native entered as the 11th seed in one of the most talent-filled brackets in the entire tournament.  His first round was former Penn State 2x NCAA Champ Vincenzo Joseph.  With a back-and-forth scoring affair, Jacques edged out his opponent  6-6 on criteria with his big 4-point takedown in the first period.  He would then be very stingy and shut out Quincy Monday 5-0 before losing to eventual Challenge Tournament Champion Jason Nolf 9-2 in the semi-finals.  Jacques rebounded well and edged out senior circuit veteran Tyler Berger 4-3.  His final match would be against Messenbrink (another Penn State wrestler in the bracket).  Jacques had no answers for Messenbrink and fell via techfall 10-0, finishing 4th in his first Olympic Trials.  

Alisha Howk, Blue Springs Native and one of the pioneers for women’s wrestling in Missouri entered as the seed after winning a Pan-Am Championship in February.  After her first-round bye, she faced the #4 seed Areana Villaescusa of the WCAP.  Howk would find herself down 5-0 despite her multiple attack attempts throughout the match.  Late in the second period, Howk was able to secure a takedown to close the gap by a score of 5-2.  She would make a few more attempts but was unable to get past her opponent’s defenses.  In her next match, on the consolation side, Howk was able to find her groove.  She would win consecutive matches 2-1, and 3-0 to reach the 3rd/4th place match vs. Felicity Taylor of Iowa.  Alisha was down only 1-0 at the end of the first period after being put on the activity clock.  Howk would tie it up 1-1 after holding Taylor scoreless during her activity clock time.  Halfway through the 2nd period, Howk held the edge on criteria, however, it would not last….

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Written by Jonathan Bowen

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