Inevitability of Missouri, Iowa match personified with Meyer, Miklus battle
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Willie Miklus and Alex Meyer are so tight they are almost like brothers.
Miklus, a freshman at Missouri and Meyer, a sophomore at Iowa, were almost inseparable when they were teammates at Southeast Polk High School in Plesant Hill, Iowa. They drilled against one another every day in practice.
They pushed each other to get better. They helped each other win a combined three state championships in High School.
And when it came time to pick a college, Miklus and Meyer were on a recruiting visit to Missouri together. Miklus bought into the Tigers, while Meyer had already been sold on the Hawkeyes.
In the biggest match of their young college careers, Miklus and Meyer went head-to-head again for the umpteenth time.
With the EAS/NWCA National Duals championship hanging in the balance, Miklus scored a late takedown, handing Meyer a 6-5 defeat at 184 pounds and sealing second-ranked Missouri's 18-12 victory against top-ranked Iowa in front of an often silent crowd of 6,846 fans on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The win snapped Iowa's 17-match winning streak against nonconference teams at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes' last loss at home to a non-conference opponent was a 17-16 setback to Oklahoma State on Jan. 7, 2012.
Ironically, it was a former Iowa state champion who helped end Iowa's unbeaten season, and he did it against his close friend and former teammate.
"I had a pretty good idea I was wrestling Alex," said Miklus, who is 26-6 and ranked 14th at 184.
"We've wrestled hundreds of times. He was my drill partner my senior year, every day pretty much. We've gone countless hours, countless goes. We still stay in touch even. We're still buddies. We know each other in and out and through and through."
"They were on the recruiting trip together. It was an interesting matchup. We talked about it before and he stuck with the game plan. He didn't get flustered," Missouri coach Brian Smith said.
In a matchup between two unbeaten teams, Missouri did what Iowa has been able to do all season -- walk into a hostile environment, quiet the crowd and come out with a win.
"Our kids have been consistent all year. We've been to Ohio State. We've been to Cornell. This was just another venue. It's just another team. You have to focus that way because it's our team. We have to focus on what we can do and we did it," Smith said.
"It was definitely a big win," said Missouri sophomore J'Den Cox, the defending national champion at 197 who posted a 4-3 win against Nathan Burak.
"It was an all-around team effort. This is awesome. We came out and did what we needed to do to beat a really good Iowa team, a really stacked Iowa team. This is amazing to win this."
Missouri's recipe for success was simple: get the first takedown, control the ties and ride tough on top. The Tigers accomplished all three to perfection.
Missouri didn't allow a first-period takedown until the heavyweight match, they controlled the ties to keep Iowa from getting to its offense and when they got the Hawkeyes on the mat, they kept them there. The result: Missouri won six of the 10 matches and came away with its first national duals title.
"They rode tough on top and they collared-tied us to death. They weren't rides where they got tricks. They were hard, driving forward-type rides. They came in to beat us and they did," Iowa coach Tom Brands said.
"There's close situations there where it's got to go our way and it didn't go our way. You're not going to get me to say we're going to define our season or continue to spiral. It's just a matter of what do you want. When you decide what you want, then go get it. It's not going to be handed to you."
This article was written by Matt Levins from The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.