COLUMBIA — Gymnasts contorted through the air as wrestlers tangled on the mats. It was a night of athletic juxtapositions at the Hearnes Center during Missouri's annual Beauty and the Beast event on Friday.
The No. 9 Tigers thrashed the Buffalo Bulls 41-0, taking a 22-0 lead into intermission after Missouri's 157-pound weight class. Missouri's first five wrestlers of the night combined for a total of 15 takedowns.
Missouri coach Brian Smith's arms were contorting, too, mimicking techniques to his wrestlers mid-bout. Finishing matches was a point of contention for Smith after last Friday's 28-6 loss at Oklahoma State.
"Last week, we talked after the dual in Stillwater," Smith said. "I said, 'You know, I don't care about the outcome. I do care, but I want to see us wrestle more aggressive.' We stood around in Stillwater."
His team listened. The closest bout of the night came in the 174-pound weight class between Missouri junior Mikey England and Buffalo sophomore Jarred Lux. Even that ended in a 10-2 victory for England.
England's win was followed by a 6-0 victory for Missouri sophomore Cody Johnston in 184 pounds, a 9-0 major decision for Missouri freshman J'den Cox and a 17-3 win for Missouri junior heavyweight Devin Mellon to finish it off.
It was the first time Cox and the four other Tiger freshmen had wrestled in the Beauty and the Beast event as well asat Hearnes Center.
"Staying focused was really hard because I've never been to a gymnastics meet, so, it was kind of a first for me on that. So, it was the first (time) being in Hearnes, first being to a gymnastics meet. But it was a lot of fun, though."
The freshmen felt right at home.
"Freshman Fall Squad, it's just — getting a fall means to get a pin — our freshmen, we've been doing really good this year," redshirt freshman Lavion Mayes said. "We win matches. We get pins. We're ranked in the Top 10 with five freshmen in the starting lineup, so of course we've got a name for ourselves."
Missouri will return to Hearnes Center at 1 p.m. Saturday to face Mid-American Conference foe Eastern Michigan. Smith purposely schedules back-to-back duals to help prepare his team for conference and national championships at the end of the season.
"It's your mindset. Your mindset has to be, you know, yeah we won, but now we have to do it over," Smith said. "Eastern Michigan is a better team than Buffalo. They've beaten some good teams. They have highly ranked guys. They have highly ranked guys in our conference.
"We're gonna have to wrestle even better than we did tonight. And you have to go out with that mindset. This is the first day of Nationals. Tomorrow would be quarterfinals."
Supervising editor is Wade Livingston