COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The Missouri wrestling team opened up their season Saturday afternoon with their first-ever Alumni Black & Gold Match. Seven former All-Americans returned to Columbia to participate in a wrestling dual versus current Tigers.
A total of 13alumni from all over the country returned to their alma mater, prepared to face the current Tigers. Crowd participation was encouraged in the event, including a rule stating that after one overtime period, fans would be asked to decide the winners of tied matches. This rule came into effect twice, during matches between Nick Marable (All American 2008/2009) and Johnny Eblen, as well as alumni Patrick Wright and redshirt freshman Parker Von Egidy. With help from the crowd, both Eblen and Wright were crowned victorious.
The two McCormick brothers, Tyler (All-American 2006/2007) and Nathan (All-American 2013), got the alumni off to a fast start by winning each of their matches, 1-0 and 2-1 respectively. Two-time All-American Dom Bradley would follow suit with a win against sophomore Justin Heberlie, increasing the alumni's lead to 9-0.
The present Tigers would battle back, however, taking three straight wins, capped off by a Cole Baumgartner victory over Brooks Travis, the oldest alumni (graduating in '97) that participated in the event. Wins by former grapplers Dorian Henderson, Mike Larson, and the overtime win by Patrick Wright would seal the dual, with the Alumni coming out on top. Despite the teams not actively keeping score, thealumni won seven of 13 bouts and unofficially won the dual 21-20.
"It was a lot of fun," said Head Coach Brian Smith following the inaugural event. "We saw some good wrestling. It's good because we are such a young team, and they got to see some of the former wrestlers and wrestle with them and I think, being Homecoming, it was a good time to have this event. We open up next Friday, so to get a crowd like this, to have this many people here, and to be able to wrestle in front of a referee…it's good."
Before any alumni took the mat, six wrestle-off matches between current Tigers took place to showcase new talent from the Tigers' No. 2 recruiting class as well as provide a last-minute opportunity for a few grapplers to vie for a spot in the starting lineup. In the first wrestle-off, freshman Barlow McGhee took down redshirtfreshman Zach Synon as time expired in sudden victory, defeating Synon 4-2.Sophomore Trevor Jauch took the second match 5-3 against freshman Lavion Mayes after accumulating 2 minutes of riding time. An aggressive Joey Lavallee won against fellow freshman Robbie Mathers by major decision 14-5 after accumulating multiple takedowns, a near fall, and a riding time point as time expired. In the final wrestle-off, sophomore Cody Johnston topped junior-teammate Ty Prazma by way of two near falls and three takedowns, for a final of 13-9.
Smith hopes that the event could be something that turns in to an annual thing. Many of his former Tigers loved returning, allowing them to put on the Black & Gold singlet one more time.
"It was good to compete again," said former 174-pounder Dorian Henderson. "It would be something annually to look forward to. It also brings back the old wrestlers and keeps everyone in contact, so it was a lot of fun.
Missouri opens their regular season next weekend on the road. The Tigers will grapple with North Dakota State on Friday, November 1, before heading to the South Dakota State Open on November 3. The Tigers defeated the Bison last year in Columbia, 37-7. Stay connected with Mizzou Wrestling by following us on Facebook and Twitter, and right here on MUTigers.com.
Past vs. Present Matches (Alumni in BOLD)
Tyler McCormick won by decision over Tony DeAngelo, 1-0
Nathan McCormick won by decision over Eric Wilson, 2-1
Dom Bradley won by decision over Justin Heberlie, 3-1
Johnny Eblen won by CROWD decision over Nick Marable, 1-1
Kyle Bradley won by major decision over Andrew Sherry, 10-2
Cole Baumgartner won by decision over Brooks Travis, 7-3
Dorian Henderson won by decision over Mikey England, 6-3
Mike Larson won by decision over Devin Mellon, 3-1
Zach Toal won by major decision over Amond Prater, 10-2
James Williamson won by decision over Jon Goerke, 5-0
Patrick Wright won by CROWD decision over Parker Von Egidy, 0-0
Drake Houdashelt won by decision over Todd Schavrien, 1-0
J'Den Cox won by decision over Matt Pell, 5-1