Four Tigers advance past first round in NCAA wrestling championships

Thursday, March 20, 2014 | 6:13 p.m. CDT; updated 10:34 p.m. CDT, Thursday, March 20, 2014

After the first two rounds of the NCAA championships in Oklahoma City, Missouri has two remaining wrestlers vying for individual championships and two in the wrestle-back portion of the tournament.

Junior Drake Houdashelt and freshman J'den Cox are one win away from All-America honors, while Joey Lavallee and Matt Manley earned first-round wins Thursday but fell into the wrestle-back bracket after losses in the second round.

Top-seeded Houdashelt earned a major decision against South Dakota State's Alex Kocer 12-3 in the first round at 149 pounds for his 35th win of the season. Houdashelt then faced off against Old Dominion's Alex Richardson late Thursday and earned a 13-0 major decision to advance to the quarterfinals. The victory gave  Houdashelt a 4-0 record over Richardson, who he faced in the Mid-American Conference championships and during conference meets.

Cox won with a 10-4 decision over Illinois' Mario Gonzalezwith four takedowns between the second and third periods. He then scored a 19-6 victory over No. 15 Braden Atwood from Purdue to reach the quarterfinals.

Cox, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, looks to become the first freshman in Missouri wrestling history to win a national championship individually. 

With wins in the quarterfinals on Friday, Cox and Houdashelt would each earn All-American honors.

Lavallee bested Duke's Immanuel Kerr-Brown on Thursday afternoon by a score of 10-3 to set up a rematch with Oklahoma State's Alex Dieringer at 157 pounds. Dieringer, the No. 3 seed, won by fall against Lavallee. 

Manley upset Kent State's Mack McGuire, ranked No. 16, 7-5 to move on to face the top-seeded Joe Colon out of Northern Iowa in another MAC championship rematch. Colon took a 5-1 decision.

Action resumes Friday morning at 10.

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