CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - No. 8 Mizzou Wrestling (1-0, 0-0) opened the regular season with a 30-8 victory over No. 17 Illinois on Saturday afternoon at the first-ever Grapple at the Grove in Champaign, Ill. This marks the eighth year in a row the Tigers have won their opening dual. Mizzou's last season-opening loss coming in 2010 against Illinois.
The teams battled it out on Grange Grove, right outside of Illinois' Memorial Stadium. The overcast conditions had no impact on the Tigers as they dominated the meet from start to finish.
"The positives are we won four bonus point matches," head coach Brian Smith said. "We were attacking but we need to put together more multiple attacks. In a couple matches we didn't adjust and if you can't adjust its going to be hard to win matches. We need to work hard this next week to get better. I was pleased with Colby Smith. He looked very confident and scored a lot of points. Zach Elam looked solid with his attacks and even when he gave up an escape, he got back to the attacks and then adjusted on top to the guys roll and put him on his back. Great composure."
The Tigers started off strong, winning the opening four bouts, including a technical fall victory by redshirt sophomore Colby Smith (Wentzville, Mo.) and an overtime win by redshirt junior Jaydin Eierman (Columbia, Mo.). Redshirt senior Daniel Lewis (Blue Springs, Mo.) landed a pin over Jake DiBenedetto, the 37th fall of his career. The Tigers remained in control throughout the meet and ended in dominant fashion, winning the final two bouts of the day as well.
Smith started the day off strong for the Tigers, earning bonus points with his technical fall over Josh Contreras. He landed three near-falls and kept his opponent scoreless, winning with a score of 15-0 for his first victory of the season.
Eierman's victory was spurred by a third-period comeback against No. 8 ranked Mike Carr. Eierman was down 8-4 heading into the third period but evened the score at ten before landing a takedown in overtime to secure the win.
Lewis maintained his regular season winning streak dating back to his redshirt sophomore season with a fall over Jake DiBenedetto in the third period. Lewis tallied his 37th fall of his career, following his team leading 17 recorded falls last season.
True freshman Zach Elam (Kansas City, Mo.) recorded his first victory with the Tigers with a 10-4 win over Deuce Rachal. Elam held a narrow 3-2 lead following the first period, but landed two takedowns and a near-fall in the second period to extend his lead and help secure the victory.
Next, Mizzou travels to Norfolk, Va., to face Old Dominion on Nov. 11 in its first conference matchup of the season. In last year's meeting between the teams, the Tigers outscored Old Dominion 36-3 in a dominant victory.
For all the latest on Mizzou Wrestling, stay tuned on MUTigers.com and follow the team on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (MizzouWrestling).
125: Colby Smith (MIZ) tech. fall Josh Contreras (ILL): 15-0 | MIZ 5, ILL 0
133: No. 9 John Erneste (MIZ) major dec. Abdullah Assaf (ILL): 13-0 | MIZ 9, ILL 0
141: No. 3 Jaydin Eierman dec. No. 8 Mike Carr (ILL): 12-10 | MIZ 12, ILL 0
149: No. 4 Grant Leeth (MIZ) default Christian Kanzler (ILL): 10-1 | MIZ 18, ILL -1
157: Eric Barone (ILL) dec. Lane Stigall (MIZ): 8-2 | MIZ 18, ILL 2
165: No. 17 Joey Gunther (ILL) dec. No. 14 Connor Flynn (MIZ): 4-1 | MIZ 18, ILL 5
174: No. 4 Daniel Lewis (MIZ) fall Jake DiBenedetto (ILL): 12-2 | MIZ 24, ILL 5
184: No. 2 Emery Parker (ILL) dec. Dylan Wisman (MIZ): 5-3 | MIZ 24, ILL 8
197: Wyatt Koelling (MIZ) dec. Andre Lee (ILL): 2-1 | MIZ 27, ILL 8
HWT: Zach Elam (MIZ) dec. Deuce Rachal (ILL): 10-4 | MIZ 30, ILL 8