ST. LOUIS, Mo. – For the first time ever, Mizzou Wrestling will send multiple wrestlers to the NCAA Wrestling Championships Finals as redshirt senior 149-pounder Lavion Mayes (Mascoutah, Ill.), redshirt junior 157-pounder Joey Lavallee (Reno, Nev.) and senior 197-pounder J’den Cox (Columbia, Mo.) all won semifinals bouts on Friday night at the Scottrade Center. Cox will wrestle in the finals for a third time, while Mayes and Lavallee punched their first trips to the finals.
In addition to the three finalists, two other Tiger wrestlers, redshirt freshman 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman (Columbia, Mo.) and redshirt sophomore 165-pounder Daniel Lewis (Blue Springs, Mo.), won matches on the backside to earn All-America status. In total, Mizzou will have five All-Americans, tying the 2009, 2013 and 2015 squads for the most All-Americans in program history.
At the end of the session, Mizzou is in fourth place with 81.5 team points, trailing only Penn State (121 points), Ohio State (89.5 points) and Oklahoma State (86 points). Behind the Tigers in striking distance of a team trophy is Iowa in fifth place with 74 points.
“This is a good day, good round,” said head coach Brian Smith. “Friday night, you go 7-0, it’s a real good round. I know we scored some bonus points in there, and Jaydin Eierman knocked off two really good kids. Coming into this tournament, I talked with my staff and we’ve had a bunch of guys make the finals before, but we’ve never had two in one year, and to get three at home here in Missouri, that’s fun.”
Mayes started the Tigers’ night in the semifinals with a rematch of the Mid-American Conference Tournament Finals against Northern Iowa’s Max Thomsen. Just like the previous bout, the two grapplers wrestled a tightly contested match, as the score tied, 2-2, late in the third period when Mayes able to get to Thomsen’s legs and execute a takedown to win the match, 4-2.
In Lavallee’s semifinals match against Cornell’s Dylan Palacio, he trailed 4-2 heading into the third period, before scoring a takedown to tie the match, 4-4. Palacio escaped to regain the lead, but another takedown plus two-back points gave him the match, 8-5.
“I just want to thank my coaches for supporting me through this year,” said Lavallee following the match. “They pushed me and helped me become a better wrestler this year and helped me slowly make small adjustments to improve.”
In a rematch of his first match of the year, Cox squared off against Virginia Tech’s Jared Haught in his semifinals bout. Cox scored a takedown in the first period and an escape in the second to hold a 3-0 advantage heading into the third period. After tacking on another takedown in the third period and riding time, Cox won the match, 6-2, to reach the finals for the third time in four years.
“Going into tomorrow, it’s the same thing,” said Cox. “I’m just going to go out there with a passion and drive to go after my dream and to make Mizzou history.”
On the consolation side of the bracket, Mizzou went 4-for-4, with Eierman and Lewis each picking up a pair of victories. Eierman first defeated Stanford’s No. 3 seed Joey McKenna by way of major decision, 8-0, before upending Princeton’s No. 4 seed Matt Kolodzik, 6-2 to advance to the consolation semifinals. Lewis scored two major decisions in the session, first defeating Minnesota’s No. 16 seed Nicholas Wanzek, 14-4, then besting Cornell’s No. 13 seed Brandon Womack, 10-0.
Mizzou will conclude its season on Saturday with the final two sessions of the NCAA Wrestling Championships. Eierman and Lewis will compete in the morning session, slated to begin at 10 a.m. CT, while Mayes, Lavallee and Cox will wrestle in the evening session at 7 p.m. CT. ESPNU will have coverage of the first session, ESPN during the night session, with a live stream on ESPN3.com and through the WatchESPN app all throughout the day.
For all the latest on Mizzou Wrestling, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (MizzouWrestling).
1. Penn State, 121
2. Ohio State, 89.5
3. Oklahoma State, 86
4. Mizzou, 81.5
5. Iowa, 74
6. Minnesota, 60
7. Cornell, 57.5
8. Virginia Tech, 53.5
9. Nebraska, 50
10. Illinois, 41.5
Session 4 Results
141: Jaydin Eierman
Consolation Round 4: #8 Jaydin Eierman (Mizzou) major dec. #3 Joey McKenna (Stanford): 8-0
Consolation Round 5: #8 Jaydin Eierman (Mizzou) dec. Matthew Kolodzik (Princeton): 6-2
149: Lavion Mayes
Semifinals: #3 Lavion Mayes (Mizzou) dec. #7 Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa): 4-2
157: Joey Lavallee
Semifinals: #3 Joey Lavallee (Mizzou) dec. #7 Dylan Palacio (Cornell): 8-5
165: Daniel Lewis
Consolation Round 4: #6 Daniel Lewis (Mizzou) major dec. #16 Nicholas Wanzek (Minnesota): 14-4
Consolation Round 5: #6 Daniel Lewis (Mizzou) major dec. #13 Brandon Womack (Cornell): 10-0
197: J’den Cox
Semifinals: #1 J’den Cox (Mizzou) dec. #3 Jared Haught (Virginia Tech): 6-2