COLUMBIA — For University of Missouri wrestler Alan Waters, winning and wrestling have been synonymous. When he was 8, Waters was competing in his first full year of wrestling and won the state championship for his age group.
His winning ways continued at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, where he was a four-time state champion and earned a record of 182-4, including a perfect 47-0 record his senior season.
No. 13 Missouri vs. No. 1 Oklahoma State
WHEN: Noon, Saturday
WHERE: Hearnes Center
No. 13 Missouri vs. No. 10 Oklahoma
WHEN: 1 p.m., Saturday
WHERE: Hearnes Center
Waters received a lot of attention coming out of high school, but he never let that get to his head.
“I knew it was going to be a whole different level of competition in college,” Waters said. “I was going to have to improve when I got to Mizzou.”
Waters is a wrestler who wants to be in practice, Missouri wrestling coach Brian Smith said. “He’s so competitive, and that’s what separates him from being pretty good to being exceptional.”
Waters' drive has resulted in a brilliant start to his college career. His freshman year he won his first 24 matches and finished with a 39-7 record. He finished third in the Big 12 tournament at the end of the year.
Despite those accomplishments, Waters' desire for perfection leaves him critiquing himself after each match, win or lose. He sets specific goals for himself before every match, he said, and knows he needs to improve if he hasn't met them.
“Even when he wins he will sometimes storm off the mat because he only won by seven,” Smith said. “He is almost a perfectionist, but that’s why he’s so successful. That attitude spreads to the room.”
Among the team, Waters sees himself as a leader through his actions. He will not be the one to rally his team with a speech, but when he walks on the mat he does all the right things — and expects the rest of the team to follow his lead.
Waters has had a noticeable impact on his wrestling partner, freshman Boomer Boyd.
"When Boyd first came, he was doing doing pretty well, but nothing all that great," Smith said. Since training with Waters, Boyd has earned second place — to Waters — at the Kaufman-Brand Open and finished first at the Roger Denker Open.
“(Boyd) keeps getting better and better and training with Alan is the reason for that,” Smith said.
Waters, 20-1 this year after three victories last weekend against Eastern Michigan, Truman St. and a forfeit against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, has No. 13 Missouri confident entering matches against No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 10 Oklahoma this weekend.
“I think we can compete with those guys as long as we don’t let their ranking mentally affect us," Waters said. "We beat them last year in a big upset and I think we can do it again.”