Missouri wrestling opens up Big 12 season against Nebraska

Friday, January 29, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST
MU wrestler Max Askren competes against Nebraska's Craig Brester on Jan. 28, 2007, at the Hearnes Center. The Tigers beat the Huskers 31-11.

COLUMBIA — The Missouri wrestling team opens the Big 12 conference season Friday night against Nebraska, which is trying to put a situation that happened just before the 2008-09 season behind them.

Four-time All-American, three-time Big 12 Champion and one-time NCAA national champion Paul Donahoe, as well as one other Cornhusker wrestler, posed nude for the Web site, a site that shows videos and photographs of naked or partially naked male athletes.

Next match

Missouri (6-4) at Nebraska (8-7)

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Lincoln, Neb.

“To someone outside the team and outside their program, I found it kind of funny because that’s just weird,” senior Nick Marable said. “I don’t see anyone on our team doing it.”

Donahoe had his scholarship from Nebraska revoked before the 2008-09 season began because the NCAA does not allow athletes to knowingly let pictures of themselves be used for commercial purposes. Donahoe then went to wrestle for Edinboro and was the NCAA runner-up at 125 pounds last season.

“It was a dumb mistake,” Missouri senior Max Askren said. “I’ve talked with Donahoe and he’s a good guy, but some people just find themselves in bad situations, and those two guys definitely found themselves in a bad situation. Hopefully they learned from it.”

The scandal has overshadowed the Nebraska program since it happened. But last season, Nebraska’s Jordan Burroughs won the national championship at 157 pounds, helping to put a new face on the Cornhuskers' program. Burroughs, who would be a senior this season, suffered a season-ending injury in December and is redshirting for the rest of the season so he can compete next year. His replacement for the Cornhuskers is freshman Tyler Koehn. So far this season, Koehn has struggled. He has a 14-11 record but is only 1-7 in dual matches.

Even without Burroughs in the lineup, Nebraska still has two highly ranked wrestlers. Stephen Dwyer is ranked No. 4 at 174 pounds, and Craig Brester is ranked No. 2 at 197 pounds. Missouri sophomore Dorian Henderson, ranked No. 15 in the country at 174, will wrestle Dwyer. Brester will face Missouri freshman Brent Haynes.

“He’s just one of those kids that’ll come after you and get real physical,” Marable said of Dwyer, who he wrestled the past two seasons. “You just have to keep your composure. I think if (Dorian) stays calm and uses his stuff, he’s going to beat (Dwyer).”

Marable went 5-0 in two seasons against Dwyer, but the last match between the two had some controversy. At the NCAA Championships in St. Louis last March, Marable defeated Dwyer 7-5 in overtime. The match took place right below the Nebraska fan section at the Scottrade Center, and the Nebraska fans booed as Marable’s hand was raised. In response to the displeasure of the Nebraska fans, Marable held five fingers up, symbolizing his 5-0 all-time record against Dwyer. With this year’s match at the NU Coliseum, Marable knows that the Nebraska fans will be hostile, especially toward him.

“I love it when crowds are into it,” Marable said. “It makes the match more interesting and gets me going more.”

MU coach Brian Smith said that while the crowd will likely be hostile Friday night, the Tigers need to only worry about wrestling.

“It’s always a heated dual,” Smith said. "(Nebraska) coach (Mark) Manning always has his team ready, and we’re going to go out and battle. They always bring in a good, heated crowd.”

“The energy of that place alone is something we’ll feed off throughout the night,” Askren said.

The match marks the Big 12 opener for both teams and will begin at 7 p.m. Friday at the Nebraska Coliseum.

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