Missouri wrestlers bounce back against old rival

Saturday, February 2, 2013 | 11:10 p.m. CST; updated 12:34 a.m. CST, Sunday, February 3, 2013
The Missouri wrestling team defeated Oklahoma 26-8 on Saturday at Hearnes Center.

COLUMBIA — The crowd’s cheers carried into the hallway as the announcer introduced the Missouri wrestling team. A video on Hearnes Center's scoreboard included highlights from the Tigers' previous bouts this season but also featured a montage of motivational speeches from sports movies.

There was Al Pacino giving an impassioned speech to his football team in "Any Given Sunday." Emilio Estevez gave a heartfelt description of what it takes to be a wrestler in "The Breakfast Club." The video ended with Tom Green’s character in "Road Trip" imploring the wrestlers to “unleash the fury!”

Missouri obliged, attacking quickly in Saturday's 26-8 dual meet victory against old Big 12 Conference rival Oklahoma at Hearnes Center.

Alan Waters, Missouri's leadoff wrestler, was aggressive from the outset. The 125-pounder injured his opponent’s elbow early and focused on the vulnerability throughout a 6-3 victory. Then, Nathan McCormick entered the 133-pound match with a similar locked-in focus for a 5-2 win, giving the Tigers a 6-0 lead.

Unsure of the fate of the rivalry with the Sooners at the beginning of the season after moving to the Mid-American Conference, Tigers wrestlers said they were glad Oklahoma decided to put them on their schedule.

“I had hoped they (the Sooners would) keep it up, so when I graduate I can come back and cheer,” McCormick said of the rivalry.

The long history of competition between the schools seemed to fuel both the Tigers as well as their fans, and unlike Friday night's disappointing 21-13 loss to Oklahoma State at the Beauty and the Beast meet, Missouri kept its sharp focus throughout the meet. The execution paid dividends. The Tigers won six of the next eight matches.

McCormick (eight wins in a row) and 174-pounder Todd Porter (seven straight) kept their win streaks alive while, Waters (19-0) and heavyweight Dom Bradley (27-0) remained unbeaten.

Missouri's next match will be against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 at Hearnes Center.

Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.

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