Ohio Wrestling Takes On Missouri In ‘Cats First MAC Tilt

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The No. 25 Ohio Bobcats wrestle in front of their home crowd for the first time in 2014 on Saturday, in a meet against perhaps their toughest challenge of the year in the No. 5 Missouri Tigers.

In its first Mid-American Conference meet, Ohio takes on a 7-0 Missouri squad that has chalked up big wins against Old Dominion, Oklahoma and Purdue and carries seven ranked wrestlers in its starting lineup.

“We’re good,” Ohio head coach Joel Greenlee said. “But they’re supposed to be a little bit better.”

Despite the uneven matchup, Greenlee expects plenty of close, hard fought matches.

The meet features three tilts in which ranked wrestlers will face off in the circle, highlighted by a grudge match at 197 pounds.

Ohio 197-pounder and No. 13 Phil Willington takes the mat against No. 3 and defending national champion, J’Den Cox. Wellington handed Cox his first collegiate loss in the teams’ dual meet in Columbia, Mo., in 2013, but Cox got the best of Wellington in the finals of the 2014 MAC Championships.

The 149 dual showcases another bout of familiar foes. No. 8 Tywan Claxton puts his perfect 13-0 record on the line against No. 5 Drake Houdashelt, who is also undefeated at 10-0. Claxton was the only wrestler to defeat the Missouri grappler in the 2013-14 regular season.

The 157-pound bout is the third and final meeting of ranked opponents, as Ohio’s 17th-ranked Sparty Chino takes on 12th-ranked Joseph LaVallee.

Cox, Houdashelt, No. 8 Lavion Mayes, 141 pounds, No. 9 Willie Miklus, 184, and No. 3 Alan Waters, 125, are all undefeated in the 2014-15 campaign.  

Greenlee said the Bobcats have to stay within themselves to wrestle their best against a tough foe.

“For every guy, you can’t change a whole heck of a lot in one dual meet,” Greenlee said. “You go out there and do what you do and you force your style of wrestling on them, and impose your will on them, and hopefully good things happen.”


Projected Matches

125: KeVon Powell vs. No. 3 Alan Waters

133: Kagan Squire vs. No. 16 Matt Manley

141: Noah Forrider vs. No. 8 Lavion Mayes

149: No. 8 Tywan Claxton vs. No. 5 Drake Houdashelt

157: No. 17 Sparty Chino vs. No. 12 Joseph LaVallee

165: Harrison Hightower vs. Cody Johnston

174: No. 10 Cody Walters vs. Mike England

184: Andrew Romanchik vs. No. 9 Willie Miklus

197: No. 13 Phill Wellington vs. No. 3 J’Den Cox

285: Zack Parker vs. Devin Mellon


“It’ll come down to the [duals] that are close, the ones that we’re not supposed to win on paper,” Greenlee said about what it’ll take for the Bobcats to give the Tigers their first loss of the year.

The Tigers take on No. 7 Ohio State on Sunday, and if in any case they are looking past Ohio, the Bobcats will be ready to capitalize.

Saturday’s dual is Missouri’s first trip to Athens, Ohio, since the 2004-05 season. The last time the Tigers and Bobcat met, the Tigers won big in a 38-9 victory. Missouri holds a 4-0 all-time record against Ohio.

The fifth meet of the series starts under the lights of the Convocation Center on Saturday at 7 p.m.