History explains that the best teams always seem to know how to step up their game at home.
No. 13 Missouri certainly matched that description on Friday, taking down Ohio 23-10 inside Jesse Hall, as the Bobcats fell to 3-1 with the loss.
“We went into their arena and we wrestled hard,” coach Joel Greenlee said. “We got two upset wins, and we were in three or four other matches that we could have won. I think we’re pretty close to being really good. We can make some adjustments from this meet, and hopefully we can turn those matches around in the conference tournament.
Ohio began the dual on the short end of major decision in the 184-pound class, as redshirt senior Ryan Garringer fell to No. 10 Johnny Eblen 15-4.
Ohio bounced back quickly with back-to-back victories from No. 16 redshirt sophomore Phil Wellington and No. 9 redshirt senior Jeremy Johnson. Wellington took down Missouri’s No. 13 J’Den Cox in a 6-4 decision before Johnson claimed an 11-2 major decision over Devin Mellon, giving Ohio a 7-4 lead in the dual.
“I just put it in my mind that I was going to score early and not give him a chance to breathe,” Wellington said. “I wanted to get in his head and get him tired, and work my offense instead of letting him work his.”
Missouri answered with three straight wins that pushed it in front 14-7. The Tigers were likely setting their sights on a fourth straight win as they watched their No. 1 ranked Derek Houdashelt walk to the mat for the 149-pound bout, but Ohio junior Tywan Claxton wasn’t intimidated. Claxton pulled off the upset, posting a 5-3 decision over Houdashelt and handing him his first loss of the season.
“I knew confidence was going to be key,” Claxton said. “I knew (Houdashelt) was a brawler. My game plan was just to slow the match down, but he wound up slowing the match down for me, which worked out in my favor. This was a good test for this team to see where we’re at at this point in the year.”
Claxton’s win would be the last for the Bobcats in the match. Missouri marched out top-ten wrestlers in the 157 and 165-pound divisions to defeat Ohio redshirt sophomore Spartak Chino and redshirt junior Harrison Hightower, before closing the match with an 11-5 decision in the 174-pound division over Marshal Willet.
“We want to be positive about this,” Greenlee said. “We had a lot of close matches, and saw lot of good things today. We’re still a very young team, and we believe in what we’re doing. We’re very close to being where we want to be, and I think, by the end of the year, we’ll be there.”
Ohio’s next challenge is a home match against Appalachian State on December 15th, which will be the Bobcats’ first time wrestling at home this season.