OMAHA, Neb. — After losing for the second consecutive year in the opening round of the NCAA Wrestling Championships, all Missouri wrestler Nick Marable could do was cry.
After he lost to Stanford’s Nick Amuchastegui in an 165-pound opener, Marable put his hands on his hips, walked off the mat and into the back area of the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska. He sat down outside the locker room, put his sweat-drenched hands over his face and just cried.
“There’s not much you can say at that point,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said. “I went and talked to him in his hotel room, and unfortunately, we had the same talk last year. I said we got to fight back through and get some team points and still become an All-American.”
Marable, Missouri’s highest seeded wrestler at this weekend's NCAA championships, also lost to Amuchastegui in the opening round of the NCAA Championships last season.
Marable prides himself on his ability to not give up takedowns. However, in this match, Amuchastegui took down Marable in the first period, controlled him for the entire second period, and was able to hang on for the 4-1 win.
“I hope he can make it back,” senior Tigers teammate Max Askren said. “I know he can make it back. I don’t know if the nerves got to him or what, but he’s tough, and I plan to see him later placing.”
After beating Penn’s Stephen Burak 18-3 later in the day in the wrestlebacks, Marable refused to talk to the media.
“We lost a tough one,” Smith said. “But he bounced back, and that’s the important thing at this tournament.”
Marable’s loss was one of many upsets on the first day of the 2010 NCAA Wrestling Championships. The 24 upsets in this season's first round equal the past two tournaments combined, with 14 last year and 10 in 2008.
All of the other Missouri wrestlers survived the first of three days of competition. Askren is 2-0 with two pins, senior Mark Ellis is 2-0, junior Todd Schavrien is 1-1, sophomore Dorian Henderson is 1-1 and freshman Brent Haynes is 1-1.
Askren and Ellis are the only two Missouri wrestlers that have a shot to win a national championship. They will wrestle next in Friday morning’s quarterfinals. Askren will face No. 3 seed Dustin Kilgore of Kent State, and Ellis will face No. 1 seed David Zabriskie of Iowa State, the only wrestler that Ellis is winless against in his career.