COLUMBIA — With the one minute overtime nearly over, Nick Marable, Missouri’s 165-pound wrestler, looked down at the mat and noticed that Oklahoma State’s Jake Dieffenbach was nearly out of bounds. He knew he had to make a move. Grabbing Dieffenbach around the legs, Marable picked him up and slammed him down for two takedown points and a dramatic win.
The victory helped the Tigers secure a 16-16 tie against then-No. 2 Oklahoma State on Jan. 19, and propelled Marable to a No. 2 ranking in the nation at 165 pounds.
“It was definitely motivating,” senior Raymond Jordan said. “... he went out there and took care of him.”
There is little time, however, for Missouri and Marable to reflect on their successes. No. 16 Cornell visits Hearnes Center at 1 p.m. today hoping to upset the 11th-ranked Tigers.
For Marable it means another challenge. Cornell’s 165-pounder, Mack Lewnes, is 26-2 and ranked fourth, but Marable said he is not worried.
“I just do the same thing week in and week out, because I’ve been winning, which shows I’ve been doing the right stuff,” Marable said. “When I start losing, then I’ll start changing things. I don’t get too big-headed, I just kind of stay the same.”
Marable is no stranger to tough competition.
The 165-pound weight class is one of the toughest in the Big 12 Conference.
“All five guys in the conference are ranked in the top 20 and four are in the top 10 in the country,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said.
Smith said Marable’s ability to battle top-10 talent every week starts in the practice room with teammates challenging him and trying to force him to make mistakes. With a deep team, Smith tries to push Marable out of his comfort zone so he is prepared come match time.
Besides pressure from his teammates during the week, Marable tries to prepare mentally.
“Before all my tough matches I think ‘This kid’s good’, but then I start thinking in my head ‘I’m better, I train more, I train with better people, I train harder,’” Marable said.
A sophomore, Marable still has room to improve, specifically scoring more points. After taking a lead, he often wrestles less aggressively, giving his opponents an opportunity to win in the final seconds.
“If Nick can score three takedowns a match, he isn’t going to have many close matches,” Smith said. “He has been taken down three times all year, and that’s not much. Some guys are taken down three times in a match.”
So even though Marable’s overtime takedown of Dieffenbach was exciting and motivated the team, neither Marable or Smith would mind if his match with Lewnes today finishes in regulation.