Two Tigers in quarterfinals, five still alive in wrestling championships

OKLAHOMA CITY — Five Missouri Tigers are still alive after the first day of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, with two of them still bidding for national titles.

Junior Drake Houdashelt (149 pounds) and freshman J’den Cox (197) both went 2-0 on Thursday and will take part in this morning’s quarterfinals.

The rest of the Tigers, meanwhile, find themselves in the wrestleback bracket. Missouri sits in 16th place in the team race with 10.5 points, well back of three-time defending champion Penn State, which sits atop the field with 26.5.

Houdashelt started the day with a 12-3 major decision against South Dakota State’s Alex Kocer.

That set up a rematch of the Mid-American Conference title bout with Old Dominion’s Alex Richardson. Houdashelt removed all drama from the match by racking up a 13-0 major decision.

Houdashelt will wrestle Eric Grajales of Michigan in this morning’s quarterfinal, with the winner locking up All-American honors.

Cox showed off his offensive firepower in a 19-6 major decision against Braden Atwood of Purdue, building a cozy 5-0 lead slightly more than a minute in after a takedown and the ensuing backpoints. The Tiger standout would add eight plus a riding time point in the third period.

Cox, seeded No. 2 at 197 pounds, will look to become the first freshman in Missouri history to win a national title. He will renew that quest this morning against Duke’s Conner Hartmann in the quarterfinals.

Three Tiger freshmen went 1-1 on Thursday and are alive in wrestlebacks:

• Matt Manley (133) lost 5-1 to Northern Iowa’s Joe Colon after topping Mack McGuire of Kent State 7-5 in sudden victory 2.

• Joey Lavallee (157) lost by fall to Oklahoma State’s Alex Dieringer on the heels of his 10-3 win against Duke’s Immanuel Kerr-Brown.

• Lavion Mayes kept his All-American hopes alive with a 15-5 disposal of Avery Garner from Utah Valley in the second session. Mayes lost by fall to Ohio State’s Logan Stieber to start the day.

Senior Zach Toal (165) and juniors Mikey England (174) and Devin Mellon (heavyweight) saw their seasons come to an end.

Toal started with a loss by fall to Pierce Harger of Northwestern and followed with a 6-1 loss to Austin Wilson of Nebraska; England lost by technical fall to Oklahoma’s Andrew Howe, then lost by fall to Columbia’s Shane Hughes; and Mellon lost 11-2 to Wisconsin’s Connor Medberry before a 6-4 loss in sudden victory to Ty Walz of Virginia Tech.

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