Senior Jeremy Spates is doing his best to join the century club.
No, not that one.
Spates, who has a 98-34 record, is poised to become the 10th Missouri wrestler to earn 100 wins.
Spates said the record is always in the back of his mind but it is not his ultimate goal. Ranked fourth in the nation according to this week’s InterMat poll, Spates hopes to become Missouri’s first national champion.
“If I win a national championship, the numbers won’t even matter to me,” Spates said.
Even if Spates, a 149-pounder, doesn’t reach his goal, he has been recognized as one of the nation’s elite. He will compete in the NWCA All-Star Tournament on Monday at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. The event pits two of the nation’s best at each weight class.
At the tournament, Spates (20-4), will meet third-ranked Dustin Manotti of Cornell. He went two years ago and defeated Jason DeBruin of Hofstra in a 6-0 decision as an exhibition wrestler and has been a spectator.
Spates has watched wrestling all his life. He is the son of Jack Spates, the Oklahoma wrestling coach.
Spates originally signed with Oklahoma and went part time for a year. He was not a member of the team and didn’t lose any eligibility. After a year, Spates realized he wouldn’t wrestle for a couple of years if he stayed in Oklahoma, and he didn’t want to wait.
Missouri coach Brian Smith coached with Jack Spates and jumped at the opportunity to get Spates to come to Missouri. Smith said he felt Spates would be the cornerstone of the recruiting class of 2000 and he would be what turned the program around.
Smith said Spates would help draw talent to Missouri and he would become a nationally ranked wrestler. All those predictions have come true, and Smith said Spates was a big part of it.
Spates gives a lot of credit to his father for his success.
“He’s a great coach,” Spates said.
Smith said Spates has an amazing work ethic. Spates said he gets it from his dad.
“Sometimes we have to make him stop,” Smith said.
Smith said Spates wasn’t the type of wrestler who would overpower anyone but was intelligent and had great skill.
Smith also said having Spates on the team was like having another coach. Smith said Spates assumes his role as captain and leads by example rather than being vocal.
“He’s a coach’s dream,” Smith said.