COLUMBIA — When the Missouri wrestling team faced Lock Haven (Pa.) to open its regular season, sophomore Todd Schavrien earned the Tigers their first points.
Just last year, Schavrien wasn't even on the Tigers' roster. At that point, Schavrien, who wrestles at the 133-pound weight class, was no where near Columbia. But now he is a Tigers starter.
Schavrien transferred to MU from Arizona State in time for the 2008-09 academic year. Since he was redshirted his first year there, he spent one season wrestling for the Sun Devils. He competed well at ASU, but found himself held back at a crucial point in the season.
"I went into Pac 10 as the No. 3 seed, and I injured my knee about a week and a half before, I couldn't straighten it," Schavrien said. "I actually ended up getting surgery on my knee a week and a half before Pac 10 (Championships). I was kinda torn whether... I didn't know what to do. So I just decided to go ahead and get surgery and try to rehab it as quick as possible and make my run at Pac 10. I ended up going two and out.
"It was pretty frustrating for me not to be able to even qualify for nationals, let the nation know what I can do. It was pretty frustrating."
Schavrien's hunger for greater success remained. He search to get there took him away from Tempe Ariz., though Schavrien said it had nothing to do with the injury. After deciding to transfer, Schavrien was competing in a tournament in Akron, Ohio. Members of the Missouri wrestling staff were there, and took notice.
"I had sent out information about my release to several coaches, Missouri being one of them, giving permission for them to contact me," Schavrien said. "They came up to me ... talked to me a little bit, watched me wrestle and they gave me a call. A couple days after, the university asked me if I wanted to come to Mizzou."
Schavrien said he likes how seriously wrestling is taken at his new school.
"The administration really shows a great deal of interest in the program," he said. "There's a good camaraderie inside the room as well as outside the room. There's a lot of alum around. There's a real respect that you gain from people... that you're a Missouri wrestler. That's something that really caught my eye."
While Schavrien seems excited about the opportunities he has at Missouri, the Southern California native said transferring brought changes that had to be addressed.
"It is a little difficult, being that I was only about a five-hour drive away from home," Schavrien said. "It's something difficult to get used to. I was at Arizona for four semesters and it takes, you get freshman year, and then a little while to start developing some good habits as far as school. You get a good regimen down, so transferring is almost like being a freshman again."
Missouri coach Brian Smith said that about a month after Schavrien left, Arizona State briefly shut down its wrestling program before recently starting it up again. While some of the wrestlers returned to the team, Smith thinks the switch was good for both Schavrien and Missouri.
"One of the things he was looking for was a program where the guys cared about each other and were willing to work hard," Smith said. "He's been working hard. It's been an adjustment because he didn't feel like he was working as hard at Arizona State. Here we push our guys."
Missouri assistant coach Lee Pritts said he looks forward to Schavrien's contribution.
"There's always a transition phase," Pritts said, adding that Schavrien seems to have handled that well. "His goals are parallel with program goals."
Schavrien said he welcomes being part of a strong team and believes it will make him better.
"One of the reasons I chose Missouri was the good competitive kids around my weight that I'd be able to work with every day," Schavrien said. "I'm not one to shy away from competition. In coming here, I saw the fact that there's so many good kids at my weight, at (1)41, at (1)25, as my opportunity to get better and excel."
Smith said he hasn't taken in many transfers while at MU, but he's noticed the potential Schavrien, a state champion his senior year at Poway High School, possesses.
"If we can have him keep making improvements, by the end of the year, he can be right in the hunt to All-American," Smith said.
"School is school for him, he's a good student, but getting into a program where he's on the team ranked fifth in the country has been an change," Smith said. "All these guys are pushing to be All-Americans and stuff, and he has that talent. Just learn to wrestle at a high level every day, that's been the biggest challenge for him. But he's fitting in great, the guys love him, and he's become part of the Tiger family."