He didn’t quite get it, and Missouri fell to the No. 2 Cyclones 18-15 before a crowd of 1,063.
With Missouri trailing by two points, No. 2 Askren squared off with No. 13 Nick Passolano at 174 pounds.
Askren prevailed with an 8-2 victory to improve to 28-1 on the season. His win gave the Tigers a temporary 15-14 lead headed into the final match.
Askren’s match contained a bit of controversy, though. The Missouri bench felt Askren had Passolano pinned in the first period.
“We thought it was a fall, the ref didn’t,” Smith said. “We needed it, we knew we could have pretty much won the dual or at least it would have been a tie. It’s just something that we really needed and Ben was going after it. It was close, but if the referee doesn’t think it is, then it isn’t.”
With the Tigers (13-6, 0-4 Big 12 Conference) only getting three points for the win instead of six for a pin, the meet’s result came down to sophomore Matt Pell.
“I was just trying to relax (before the match),” Pell said. “There was a lot of hype and the crowd was going nuts. Whoever won the match, won the dual. I just tried to stay relaxed, it’s tough though.”
No. 10 Pell fell 11-2, managing only two escapes. His opponent, No. 2 Kurt Backes, scored four takedowns for Iowa State (16-1, 2-1 Big 12). Missouri saw its lead disappear—for good.
“(Backes) wrestled really tough tonight,” Smith said. “I’ve seen Backes a little bit on film and he’s been wrestling very, very well. That’s the best I’ve seen him wrestle, and unfortunately it was against us. He’s looking good, there’s a reason he’s second in the country right now.”
Junior Jeff Foust started the Tigers in the right direction, with an intense 6-5 victory in the 197-pound match. Despite feeling ill, No. 20 Foust defeated No. 19 Trevor Smith.
After Foust jumped out to a 4-0 lead through two periods, Smith scored five straight points. But Foust scored a reversal with 40 seconds left.
“I just needed a win, it was really important,” Foust said.
“Finally, Foust got out of a rut there and beat somebody, which was important going into the Big 12s,” Smith said.
Redshirt freshman Tyler McCormick (133) and No. 18 Cody Greene (149) earned early wins for Missouri.
“We definitely needed those matches and they came through,” Smith said. “Tyler has been consistent all year. He does what he has to and gets the wins. I think that got him the second or third seed in conference, which is important.”
After No. 15 Brad Cieleski lost to No. 5 Trent Paulson 8-2 in the 157-pound match, Missouri trailed 14-9 with only three matches left.
But Paulson’s twin brother, Travis, didn’t fare as well in his 165-pound match with No. 8 Tyron Woodley.
Travis Paulson, ranked No. 5 coming into the match, was upset 6-2. With the win, Woodley improved to 18-1 in duals and 7-1 against conference opponents.
“Woodley’s on a roll right now, that kid was ranked really high,” Smith said. “It’s good to see him wrestle like that, with explosiveness, and going after it early and continuing the whole match.”
“It felt pretty good,” Woodley said. “The win was big for me, I would have really liked to celebrate the whole team victory, but it will peak at the end of the year and I think we’ll pull together and guys will step up and we’ll do well at nationals.”
The Tigers will attempt to right their ship in their final dual meet of the season on Wednesday, when they host Chattanooga at 6 p.m.
Chattanooga defeated the Tigers earlier this season, and the rematch is highly anticipated.