Mizzou Wrestler Celebrates National Title

1 decade 2 years 7 months ago Monday, March 27 2006 Mar 27, 2006 Monday, March 27, 2006 6:54:11 PM CST March 27, 2006 in News

Mizzou wrestler Ben Askren has it all--fans flock to be near him, the photographers can't get enough, and he's got hair. It's long and curly, but not necessarily so beautiful.

"I can't wash it often," Askren said. "I can only condition. It's so nappy."

Askren hasn't gone under the cape in a long time. Would you believe a crushing loss made him decide to keep his locks until he won a national championship?

"'Cause he said after he lost in the finals last year he wasn't going to cut it," said Brian Smith, Missouri wrestling coach. "He tried braiding and wearing a hairnet in the Big 12s, and that didn't last long. I know all season it's been popping out. I know his mom wanted him to get it cut."

Smith added, "When he puts the headgear on, it really crunches it down. It pops out and almost looks like a clown look."

Askren said, "On this one plane trip my teammates started throwing stuff in there. It was in there for weeks."

But Askren got his national title, a perfect 45-0 season, with a school record 25 pins. So Joy Barbero went to work while kids scowered for a piece of Askren's hair.

"I'm going to give it to my mom and put it on my dresser," one kid said.

Barbero said, "I was afraid I was going to step on the little guys picking up the hair. I had to watch my step, but it was ok."

But the cut wasn't a complete shave, Askren chose a mullet.

"Yeah, definitely the mullet," Askren said. "I've been promising some of my teammates the mullet. I can always change it after that. If you cut it than you can't go back to the mullet."

Not everyone is a big fan of the mullet.

"I liked his fro," one kid said.

But Askren paid his $13 and got every penny worth.

"Maybe just a little more off this side than I think it's good," he said. "Awe that's nice, side profile."

Looking good, and so is the Missouri wrestling program coming off it's first ever national title.

"After he won the national title, my phone hasn't stopped ringing," Smith said. "Text messages from all over the country, from recruits to alums to fans. It's just been a great week."

Coach Smith doesn't think the mullet will be around for long, but he is ready to see if Askren can defend his national title next season.

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