COLUMBIA – Not remembering the last time you lost a wrestling match is a good problem to have. Just ask Missouri freshman Alan Waters, who pushed his collegiate record to 19-0 with a victory against Nic Bedelyon of Kent State in Sunday’s dual meet at Hearnes Center.
“I guess sometime during my junior year of high school,” Waters said of his last loss. “I don’t really remember.”
Dom Bradley’s takedown in sudden-death overtime clinched a 19-15 victory for the Tigers (6-3) against visiting Kent State (2-4).
Bradley, the No. 5 ranked heavyweight in the nation, led No. 12 Brendan Barlow throughout their match until Barlow evened the score with just three seconds remaining in regulation, but Bradley recorded the takedown with three ticks left in the overtime.
The Tigers trailed 9-7 at the intermission, but Zach Toal and Dorian Henderson both overcame early deficits to earn decisions and restore Missouri's advantage.
Another exciting match came when Mike Larson recorded a late near fall to defeat Casey Newburg in a battle of unranked sophomores. Missouri carried a 13-9 team lead into the match, but with No. 1 Dustin Kilgore looming in the 197-pound weight class for Kent State up against Missouri’s 1-3 Jake Glore, it was important for Larson to extend Missouri’s lead. He fell behind early but with 19 seconds remaining in the match, Larson trapped Newburg on the ground as the crowd screamed “two.” The referee soon obliged and Larson picked up the victory.
It would prove important, as Kilgore scored six points for the Golden Flashes by recording a fall in 3:35 against Glore and pulled Kent State to within one at 16-15 entering the final match of the day.
125: No. 11 Alan Waters (MU) dec. No. 5 Nic Bedelyon (KSU), 3-1
133: Tyler Small (KSU) dec. No. 17 Nathan McCormick (MU), 8-6
141: No. 13 Todd Schavrien (MU) major dec. Chase Skonieczny (KSU) ,12-0
149: Marcel Clopton (KSU) dec. Brandon Wiest (MU), 4-1
157: No. 20 Matt Cathell (KSU) dec. Danny Gonsor (MU), 6-0
165: No. 12 Zach Toal (MU) dec. No. 24 Ross Tice (KSU), 7-4
174: No. 15 Dorian Henderson (MU) dec. Brandon Johnson (KSU), 5-4
184: Mike Larson (MU) dec. Casey Newburg (KSU), 4-3
197: No. 1 Dustin Kilgore fall Jake Glore (MU), 3:35
HWT: No. 5 Dom Bradley (MU) dec. No. 12 Brendan Barlow (KSU) 5-3
Waters, who had a 47-0 senior season at Park Hill High School in Kansas City last winter, has emerged as a legitimate national contender in the 125-pound weight class.
Both Waters and Bedelyon entered their showdown ranked and undefeated on the season. Waters came in at No. 11 nationally but faced the toughest test of his young career in No. 5 Bedelyon, who came to Hearnes Center with a 9-0 record.
The match was scoreless in the second period when Waters made his move. Pouncing from the ground, he got the crowd on its feet and to a fever pitch before the referee signaled to award Waters a two-point near fall, which proved to be the difference in his 3-1 victory by decision.
“That’s a really good, tough kid out there that he wrestled,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said. “Alan knows how to win those close matches.”
Though Waters began the season unranked, he didn’t stay that way for long. After taking first place at the Lindenwood Open on Oct. 30 and scoring a victory against Illinois in the season’s opening dual meet, Water entered the polls at No. 24.
He continued his emergence on the national scene on Nov. 21, when the Tigers hosted Lindenwood, Hofstra and Oregon State, winning all three of his matches, including victories against then-No. 21 Steve Bonanno of Hofstra and then-No. 10 Jason Lara of Oregon State.
The Tigers' search for a dominant wrestler at the 125-pound level has been a long one. Over the past four seasons, 125 pounds is the only weight class in which the Tigers have not had an NCAA qualifier. During that four-year span, Missouri's 125-pounders have posted a 19-48 record in duals.
Waters acknowledged that he was aware of the Tigers’ struggles at 125 and says wrestling at that weight can be very difficult.
“It’s tough to move up to college and all of the sudden be the smallest guy in the room,” Waters said. “You have to work to compete with the bigger guys. It’s a whole new level.”
After racking up a 182-4 record at Park Hill, including four individual state championships and team state titles in 2009 and 2010, Waters was courted by other Midwestern wrestling powerhouses such as Iowa, Iowa State and Nebraska, but says he never really wanted to go anywhere other than Missouri.
“None of those other places compared,” he said. “I grew up around (Missouri), I wrestled kids club states here and high school states here.”
Since his arrival, Smith and the Missouri coaching staff have been extremely pleased with his work ethic, and they are not surprised by his fast start.
“I knew he was good. He sticks to the game plan and wins,” Smith said. “He comes to practice early, stays late and puts the time in. It’s no surprise why Alan Waters wins.”
However happy both Smith and Waters are about the freshman’s early success, they reiterated multiple times that the ultimate goal still lies ahead.
“My goal isn’t to be top five; it’s to win a national championship,” Waters said. “Those goals are still way off.”