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    Askren wins Big 12 title

    Ames, Iowa -- Wrestling in front of 2,628 fans in the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, the No. 7 Missouri Tigers took fifth place at the 10th annual Big 12 Championships. Head Coach Brian Smith's team scored 42 points.

    Taking down his opponent four times into the opening period, junior Ben Askren (Hartland, Wis.) jumped out to an 8-3 advantage after the first three minutes against No. 4 Jacob Klein of Nebraska. Klein escaped to begin the second frame, but Askren scored two more takedowns to take a 12-5 advantage into the final period. Picking up two more points with a takedown, Askren cut Klein midway through the fourth and ended the bout with a double-leg takedown and 3:54 of riding time to push his record to 40-0. The championship is the second of Askren's career; he was a Big 12 Champion in 2004.

    Sophomore Tyler McCormick (Leawood, Kan.) took second place after squaring off against No. 2 Nathan Morgan of Oklahoma State for the 133-pound title and was unable to overcome his opponent in a 5-1 loss. Ranked No. 14 in the nation, McCormick defeated No. 18 Jesse Sundell of Iowa State earlier in the day to reach the final round.

    Squaring off against No. 2 Johny Hendricks for the second time this season, No. 6 junior Matt Pell (Luxemburg, Wis.) traded escapes with the Cowboy through regulation, forcing an overtime period. After Pell nearly won the bout with a takedown as the sudden-victory set expired, Hendricks was able to escape for a 2-1 victory. Pell's second-place finish is the third straight time that he has qualified for the NCAA Championships.

    Redshirt freshman Raymond Jordan (New Bern, N.C.) advanced to the title bout at 184 pounds after defeating No. 11 Vince Jones of Nebraska 11-10 in the semifinals. Wrestling a tough match against No. 6 Kurt Backes, Jordan took second place after being defeated 4-2.

    "I'm really proud of the way several of our guys wrestled today," Head Coach Brian Smith said. "Ben Askren dominated the No. 4 wrestler in the country to win the Big 12 Championship, and Matt Pell wrestled an exceptional bout against a defending national champion. The two freshmen, Raymond Jordan and Michael Chandler also wrestled well for the team today. For the next two weeks our focus is on getting ready for Nationals."

    The head coaches of the Big 12 still have to choose eight wild cards to make the trip to nationals and the wild cards will be announced following the wild-card meeting. The 2006 NCAA Championships will be held March 16-18 in Oklahoma City, Okla., at the Ford Center.

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