COLUMBIA — Missouri wrestling coach Brian Smith said that this year’s senior class could be the best in school history. On Sunday afternoon, the three seniors wrestled for the last time at Hearnes Center against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Missouri lost the dual 24-9, with Missouri’s seniors going 2-1.
“They’re good kids that have worked hard," Smith said. "I was talking to (senior Nick) Marable on the way down the stairs and I said, ‘Man, you’ve come so far.' We were thinking we were going to get rid of him after the first month of practice, but he’s grown up. That was an old-school Marable match right there, but that kid was tough.”
All three seniors have held a No. 1 ranking at some point in their careers.
Marable won his match in overtime 3-1 over Oklahoma State’s Alex Meade, ranked No. 8. Marable has often been teased about winning so many matches by two points or fewer, including 15 of his wins last season. However, this season, Marable has won more decisively. In 31 wins so far, 16 have been bonus-point victories.
“That was not my fault,” Marable said, in reference to Sunday’s close match. “I was pushing the pace, and he was backing up. I was freaking chasing him. He was fast.”
After taking down Meade in overtime, Marable got up and waved to the crowd for one last time, receiving one final standing ovation at Hearnes Center.
“I got a little upset walking out here before the match, but I wasn’t out here for the first four matches,” Marable said, in reference to his last match at Hearnes Center. “I went and sat down on the couch and relaxed and got it all out of me.”
Senior Max Askren also won his match on Sunday against Clayton Foster, ranked No. 10. Other than Askren, Foster is the only other Big 12 wrestler at 184 pounds that is ranked in the top 10 in the country. Askren still controlled the match to win 5-3.
When Askren was being recruited, Smith had an "in" with him because Max’s older brother, Ben Askren, wrestled for the Tigers at the time. Still, Max Askren wanted to visit other schools and programs, but Ben Askren was able to talk his younger brother into coming to Missouri. After Max Askren visited Iowa State, he called Smith and committed to the Tigers.
“He didn’t have to try hard,” Max Askren said. “He’s my brother and family’s something that’s important to me. Obviously, Missouri’s been a great fit and if he persuaded me at all, I’m glad he did.”
Max Askren is only three wins away from 100 career wins. He would be the 18th member in Missouri wrestling history to join the 100-win club.
The final Tiger senior was defending national champion Mark Ellis, who competed against current No. 1, Jared Rosholt. Rosholt defeated Ellis 3-2.
“It’s not going to happen again,” Ellis said. “He’s not going to beat me again, I’ll tell you that.”
Along with Marable and Askren, freshman Brent Haynes was the only other Missouri wrestler to win Sunday, upsetting Alan Gelogaev, ranked No. 5 in the country, 8-7.
Missouri will close out its regular season next Sunday when it takes on Iowa State, ranked No. 2 in the country, in Ames, Iowa.