ST LOUIS – Missouri sophomore Nicholas Marable thought he might throw up.
It was the morning before his quarterfinal match at the NCAA Wrestling Championships against sixth seed Jonathon Reader of Iowa State. If Marable, the third seed at 165 pounds, won the match, it would guarantee a finish no lower than sixth and All-American honors.
Marable rarely shows his emotions or feel nervous before a match, but this match was different.
“I’ve never been that nervous before,” Marable said. “I normally (throw up) when I feel sick, so hopefully that’s gone. I feel good now.”
Marable did not perform like a nervous wrestler, defeating Reader 5-3.
It was the third time that the two wrestlers had competed. Marable won the first match during the season 4-3 and then won 5-2 at the Big 12 Tournament.
Marable said he feels like he has an advantage when wrestling someone for a second time.
“I’ve been beating them by more than I did the first time,” Marable said.
Against Reader, Marable wrestled the type of match he prefers — a low-scoring one. Reader only scored three escape points. It was the 14th straight match in which Marable’s opponent failed to score a takedown.
The victory against Reader put Marable into the semifinals against the second-seed, Iowa’s Mark Perry, who he wrestled against earlier in the year. Perry won that match 3-2 in overtime.
After beating Reader, Marable was excited for another chance against Perry. His eyes grew wider and the corners of his mouth turned up.
“Last time I wrestled him, he beat me by me letting him up,” Marable said.
Marable scored an early takedown and was the aggressor throughout the first two periods. In the third period with the score tied at two, both Marable and Perry came close to scoring takedowns, as they tried desperately to finish the match in regulation. With 14 seconds left, Perry finally scored a takedown on Marable.
“He came in with a bad shot and I took advantage of it with a flurry of shots,” Perry said.
The Missouri coaches jumped out of their seats and argued the call, but time expired and Marable’s chance at a National Championship ended.
“He seems like is he about 4’11’’ and I’m 6’1’’, so it’s hard to get underneath him, and he’s extremely explosive,” Perry said.
Even though Marable cannot win an individual title, he was pleased with his All-American honor. Unlike his six teammates at Nationals, this was Marable’s first time at the tournament.
In 2007, Marable wrestled behind All-American Matt Pell at 165 pounds and National qualifier Michael Chandler at 157 pounds. However, Missouri coach Brian Smith still brought him to Nationals.
Marable watched over the team bags.
“We were joking how last year I went to the tournament and was watching bags, and now this year I’m the Big 12 Champion,” Marable said before the tournament.
Even though he laughs about watching over the bags, Marable credits the experience with motivating him to make it as a wrestler.
“It’s pretty crazy,” he said. “Seeing all these people wrestle at Nationals last year, you never think that you are going to be here next year, but here I am.”