COLUMBIA — Missouri sophomore Nick Marable knew everything was on the line in his match.
With the No. 11 Tigers wrestling team tied with No. 2 Oklahoma State at 13 with two matches to go, the 165-pound match between Marable and the Cowboys’ Jake Dieffenbach was a crucial contest in Saturday afternoon’s dual at Hearnes Center.
Individual rankings were also at stake with Marable at No. 3 and Dieffenbach at No. 5 in the country in their weight class. Dieffenbach is also a Missouri native, born and raised just outside of St. Louis. At Oakville High School, he was a four-time state placer at the state wrestling championships. Before transferring to Oklahoma State, Dieffenbach won two individual NAIA national titles wrestling for Lindenwood University.
After the regulation three periods, the match was tied at one point a piece, forcing overtime. With fewer than 10 seconds to go in the extra period, Marable grabbed Dieffenbach by both legs near the edge of the mat and lifted him towards the ceiling then drove him to the mat. With two seconds left, the referee awarded Marable two-points for the takedown giving him a 3-1 victory.
“I knew I had to do something to win,” Marable said. “I thought we had been going at it for a little bit. I didn’t know how close we were to the end, so I just drove him to the ground.”
The win gave Missouri a 16-13 lead with one match to go, but Oklahoma State’s Brandon Mason beat Brock Wittmeyer 4-0 at 174 pounds to earn three points for the Cowboys and end the match in a 16-16 tie.
Marable’s victory came in a match between wrestlers with distinctly different styles. The compact and sturdy Marable is high-energy and his moves come in flurries, while Dieffenbach is taller and chooses areas to exploit.
“Nick is just explosive,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said. “Dieffenbach is difficult to take down.”
Marable credits his approach to his father Tom, who was his first wrestling coach while growing up in Tennessee.
“If you look at my dad, we look exactly the same except he’s put on a few more pounds through the years,” Marable said.
While Marable is the starter at 165 this season, last year he was behind Matt Pell, an All-American who has graduated, and current junior Michael Chandler. Marable spent a lot of time jumping to different weight classes moving between 157 pounds and 165 pounds to fill in spots as the Tigers needed him and finished with a 26-8 record.
“We knew Nick was very talented. He did a great job filling in for us at the National Duals last year against Minnesota,” Smith said.
Marable had to cut weight to compete at 157, which he said limited his energy and dragged him down sometimes.
“If I had to stay at 157 for two consecutive weekends, I was really having trouble,” Marable said. “At 157, I was stronger than most of the wrestlers, but I wasn’t as fast as them.”
Marable said he is happy where he is this season at 165.
“I knew I should come up to help the team and myself,” Marable said. “I feel good about my chances.”