An Askren won a Big 12 Conference Championship for the fourth straight year.
This time it was not Ben Askren, but his younger brother Max Askren, who won his second consecutive championship at 197-pounds with an 8-3 decision against Nebraksa’s Craig Brester.
With Ben Askren on the sideline shouting advice, Max Askren took a 5-0 lead into the third period. Brester scored three points in the first minute of the third, but Askren held him off with a reverse and riding time.
Sophomore Nicholas Marable also won a conference championship at 165-pounds, defeating Nebraska’s Stephen Dwyer 3-2.
However, the two individual championships were not enough to help Missouri win its first team championship.
“I’m frustrated with a few weight classes and I’m happy with a few,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said by phone.
The Tigers finished fourth with 49.5 points Saturday in Stillwater, Okla. Iowa State won the Big 12 championship with 75.5 points, followed by Nebraska (62.5) and host Oklahoma State (52.5). Oklahoma finished fifth with 24 points.
In the 165-pound final, Marable scored a takedown 38 seconds into the first period, sliding behind Dwyer and pulling him to the ground. Dwyer tied the scored at two, but Marable scored an escape point in the third period. Dwyer tried desperately to score again, but Marable used his hands and quick feet to avoid Dwyer’s attacks.
Both Marable and Askren were seeded first in their weight classes, along with junior Michael Chandler at 157-pounds.
Chandler also made it to the finals, but he lost to Iowa State’s Cyler Sanderson 6-5. Chandler held a 5-4 lead late in the third period, but Sanderson scored a takedown with 32 seconds left to take a 6-5 lead. With seconds left, Chandler tried to score a defensive pin but failed in his attempt.
Missouri had one surprise finalist: senior Tyler McCormick.
A two time All-American, McCormick was seeded fourth after battling hamstring and knee injuries during the season.
In his semifinal match, McCormick faced Oklahoma State’s Coleman Scott, who was No. 1 in the nation. Keeping one knee on the ground to prevent Scott from reaching his legs and scoring, McCormick forced overtime. With the Cowboys fans booing loudly at his strategy, McCormick scored a takedown to win 5-3.
“He wrestled really hard at the end, and in overtime you’re thinking ‘you can’t lose now after wrestling so hard, and he found a way to win” Smith said.
McCormick’s magic ran out in the finals, where he lost to Iowa State’s Nick Fanthorpe 7-1.
Another surprise came at 174-pounds with junior Emanuel Brooks taking fourth, losing 2-1 to Iowa State’s Aron Scott in the third-place match.
A junior college transfer, Brooks started once this season at 157-pounds, making this his debut at 174-pounds.
“We felt style-wise that he could do well, and we were right,” Smith said.
Brooks nearly made the finals, losing 7-6 in overtime against the eventual conference champion, Nebraska’s Brandon Browne.
Missouri was hurt by junior Raymond Jordan at 184-pounds and senior Josh Wagner at 149-pounds not making the finals. Both were seeded second but finished fourth.
“You never know,” Smith said about Jordan and Wagner’s performance. “Sometime it’s just a bad day.”
Sophomore heavyweight Mark Ellis placed third, scoring a takedown in overtime for a 3-1 win.
“You just have to dig deep,” Smith said. “Some of our guys did and some didn’t.”