MANHEIM, Pa. – A weekend clash between two non-Big Ten powers saw No. 5 Missouri come away with a 23-19 victory over No. 6 Virginia Tech. While the win kept the Tigers ahead of the Hokies and in a solid fifth position in Tuesday’s USA Today/NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll, it also positioned the Tigers as the top non-Big Ten team in the NWCA Dual Series.
“Dual meets bring teams together,” said Missouri coach Brian Smith following the win. “At Mizzou, we want to win NCAAs but we also set a goal this season to host the top NWCA dual for the National Dual format. It is something that motivates our program and a challenge that makes it fun for our team and our fans.”
Oklahoma State, Penn State, Iowa, and Ohio State remained in the top four spots. The only changes in this week’s poll came at No. 25, where North Carolina re-entered the poll after a 28-12 home win over Old Dominion coupled with No. 24 Oregon State’s 38-7 loss against Michigan. The Beavers dropped out of the Top 25.
Since coming to Missouri, Smith’s scheduling has been aggressive, although the NWCA Dual Series can afford the Tigers another quality Big Ten opponent, something that’s been tougher and tougher to schedule since the program’s rise to national prominence.
“Wrestling a challenging schedule has always been an important component to our program's success,” said Smith. “When you wrestle teams like Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, Cornell, Ohio State, and Oklahoma, it makes it easier to get consistency in practices and training. When athletes get challenged and even experience a loss or two, you have choices, you can accept it or grow from it and make the changes you need to evolve as a wrestler.”
At the end of the dual meet portion of the season, eight non-Big Ten teams will host eight Big Ten teams in a season-ending NWCA Dual Series.
Fourth-ranked Ohio State (1-0) opened up its dual season with a 27-15 win over homestanding No. 19 Arizona State. Virginia Tech (4-1) didn’t head back to Blacksburg empty-handed, the Hokies beat No. 22 Northern Iowa 27-10 on Friday. Nebraska (2-0) cruised to a pair of victories over West Virginia and Wyoming. Colton McCrystal of Nebraska knocked off returning NCAA finalist Bryce Meredith of Wyoming at 141 pounds.
Cornell survived a scare from in-state rival Buffalo 18-15 wrestling without a handful of starters. Ninth-ranked NC State bested Air Force 29-6 and Division II UNC Pembroke 43-6.
Rutgers topped an in-state rival, Princeton, 19-16 at the first Battle at the Birthplace, an outdoor dual at Rutgers’ High Point Solutions Stadium. The event drew 16,178, putting it in second-place all-time for the most fans to watch a college wrestling dual. The record, 42,287, was set last year when Iowa hosted Oklahoma State at Kinnick Stadium for the Grapple on the Gridiron.
Michigan, Lehigh, Stanford, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Wisconsin all picked up weekend victories as well. The Wolverines beat ranked foes Oklahoma and Oregon State, while Lehigh knocked off No. 21 Pittsburgh and Edinboro on a swing through Western Pennsylvania. Stanford (2-1) held off Purdue 23-14, while No. 16 Minnesota benefitted from a stalling disqualification at heavyweight to overtake No. 20 South Dakota State 18-17.