No. 9 Missouri wrestling in second place after day one at MAC Championships

Saturday, March 8, 2014 | 9:11 p.m. CST

No. 9 Missouri finished the first day of the Mid-American Conference Championships in second place out of nine teams, trailing only Northern Iowa.

The Tigers have 89.5 team points and are 7.5 points behind the Panthers.

Three Tigers will go to the finals on Sunday beginning at 11 a.m. By doing so, junior Drake Houdashelt (149), freshman J'den Cox (197) and junior heavyweight Devin Mellon each secured his spot at this year's NCAAs.

Missouri is the only of nine MAC teams to still have all 10 starters alive in the tournament, which is held in Kent, Ohio.

"It was a frustrating start for us today," Missouri coach Brian Smith said. "We lost a couple of close matches late, which can't happen in tournaments like this. But the good news is we finished strong and still have all 10 guys alive."

Houdashelt will meet Old Dominion's Alex Richardson in the 149-pound final on Sunday, as he searches for his third-consecutive conference title. Richardson and Houdashelt have met twice this season, and Houdashelt has come out victorious on both occasions.

Cox cruised through the quarterfinals and semifinals with a technical fall over Central Michigan's Jackson Lewis and a major decision over Northern Illinois' Shawn Scott. Cox will aim to redeem himself against Ohio's Phil Wellington in the finals.

Wellington handed Cox his first collegiate loss back in December.

Mellon will round out the Tigers' finalists on Sunday after a couple of close decisions Saturday afternoon. The heavyweight topped Kent State's Mimmo Lyte in a tiebreaker, then squeaked by Old Dominion's Matt Tourdot in the semifinals by a score of 4-1. He will face off against top-seeded Jeremy Johnson (Ohio) in the finals.

Johnson has beaten Mellon both times the two have matched up this season.

The remaining seven Tigers will vie for NCAA spots in the consolation semifinals and third place matches on Sunday.

The Tigers have an opportunity to earn their third consecutive conference championship after winning the Big 12 Conference Championship two years ago and its first ever MAC Championship last year.

Action will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday with the consolation semifinal rounds, followed by the finals at 12:20 p.m.

Supervising editor is Mark Selig.

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