By Peter Terpstra
Imagine what Drake Houdashelt ate for breakfast before the first day of the NCAA Championships.
Whatever it was, it sure did a better job than Wheaties ever could.
In the first round, unseeded Houdashelt was able to best 11th-seeded Andrew Alton of Penn State. The St. Louis native controlled most of the second round to spur him toward the win.
Then the wrestler once again found himself in a match with a higher seed. In the second championship round, Houdashelt beat sixth-seeded Dylan Ness of Minnesota to advance to the quarterfinals. After scoring an escape with less than a minute left in the third period, Houdashelt scored a takedown in the last 12 seconds to win the match.
“He just did a good job. He was down most of the match. He just stuck with his game plan. There were some close calls. He had a cradle and I challenged it. I lost, but he just went right back to it and wins the match with it,” Missouri Coach Brian Smith said.
After the first day of competition, the Tigers have three other wrestlers in the quarterfinals. Top-seeded 125-pound wrestler Alan Waters went 2-0 on the day, winning by decision 5-2 over Minnesota’s David Thorn and 4-2 over Michigan’s Sean Boyle.
At 133 pounds, Missouri’s Nathan McCormick beat Eric Spjut from Virginia Tech in the first round 3-0 before scoring a major decision 11-1 over Dane Harlow of Boston. Missouri’s other top-seeded wrestler Dom Bradley landed in the quarterfinals after scoring a 10-1 major decision over Cornell’s Stryker Lane and a 4-2 decision over former Big-12 foe Matt Gibson of Iowa State.
“Dom looks real good. Alan looks a little tentative. But we’ll have to get him going. He’s going to get better as the tournament goes on,” Smith said.
Missouri still has all 10 wrestlers alive in the bracket for Friday.
“We’re not getting a lot of bonus points. So we’re wearing a hard hat and bringing a lunch pale. We’re winning the hard way,” Smith said.
The quarterfinals start at 10 a.m. Missouri sits in sixth place tied with Ohio State with 14.5 points after day one.