Mizzou Wrestlers Houdashelt, Cox Guaranteed All-American Honors
OKLAHOMA CITY - Two Mizzou wrestlers have claimed All-American status with wins in the NCAA Quarterfinals Friday morning at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Top-seeded Drake Houdashelt and two-seed J'den Cox picked up decisions in the quarters, winning 3-1 and 5-1 respectively.
Houdashelt started with an early 2-0 lead over nine-seed Eric Grajales (Michigan). Grajales got on the board with a third period escape after an illegal hold, giving Houdashelt a 3-0 advantage. Houdashelt's 3-1 decision earns All-American status and sends him to the semifinals Friday night against freshman Jason Tsirtsis from Northwestern. Tsirtsis is seeded No. 5 at 149 pounds.
Cox made Mizzou history Friday with a 5-1 decision over Duke's Conner Hartmann, becoming the youngest All-American Tiger wrestler. Cox struck with a double leg takedown as time expired in the first period, and would add insurance points late in the third with another. The Columbia, Mo.-native could continue to etch his name in the Mizzou record books and become the first freshman in Mizzou Wrestling history to win a national title. First Cox must get through the semifinals tonight, where he will face No. 14 Chris Penny (VT).
Freshman Joey Lavallee (157) is the only other Tiger still alive in this year's field. Lavallee could possibly join Cox as the youngest All-American in MU wrestling history with a win in his next bout. He faces No. 1 James Green (Nebraska) in the All-American round Friday evening.
The Tigers sit in 11th place with 28.5 team points at the halfway point of the Championships. A top-10 finish would mark the fifth time in eight years that Brian Smith's squad has finished in the top-10 in the nation.
Session IV of the 2014 NCAA Championships kicks off at 7 p.m. tonight from Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. Saturday morning will feature the third, fifth, and seventh place matches, followed by the Championship Finals Saturday evening at 7 p.m