Missouri wrestlers had made their team goal clear heading into NCAAs in Cleveland: a top-four team trophy.
But for the first time all year, the undefeated Tigers faltered. Missouri finished sixth at the NCAA Championships as no Tigers advanced to individual finals.
Four Missouri wrestlers earned All-America honors, highlighted by fourth-place finishes from redshirt sophomore Jaydin Eierman (141 pounds) and redshirt junior Daniel Lewis (174). Redshirt junior Grant Leeth (149) took sixth, and redshirt junior Willie Miklus (197) was eighth.
“We have a great team coming back,” coach Brian Smith said in a statement. “But we have to improve in areas to get better at this tournament.”
The sixth-place showing marks the Tigers’ fourth straight top-10 finish at NCAAs. They last won a team trophy in 2015.
Lewis, a Blue Springs High School graduate, and Eierman made it to the third-place match, and Leeth and Miklus wrestled in the fifth- and seventh-place matches, respectively. But, for every Tigers wrestler, the season ended in a loss.
Eierman, a Tolton graduate, was a No. 2 seed entering the competition. After his loss in the third-place match, he gave a young fan his headgear. It put a huge smile on the boys’ face, according to a tweet Eierman retweeted.
A few Tigers had disappointing meets, including redshirt senior Joey Lavallee, who entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed in the 157-pound weight class. He lost his opening match and failed to earn All-America honors in the consolation bracket. He finished second at NCAAs in 2017.
Along with Lavallee, redshirt junior John Erneste (133), redshirt sophomore Connor Flynn (165) and redshirt freshman Canten Marriott (184) won matches but failed to earn All-America honors.
Missouri qualified wrestlers in nine of 10 weight classes to NCAAs. Aside from Lavallee and Barlow McGhee, all will be back for the 2018-19 campaign.
“Not what I wanted, but now I have a full season of wrestling under my belt that I can take into the offseason and improve,” Leeth tweeted after his final match. “So excited to get back to work and prepare for next year.”