A crowd of 1,025 watched as No. 9 Missouri wrestling upended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 36-7 on Friday at the Vadalabene Center.
“We had a great crowd and a great atmosphere,” said SIUE coach Jeremy Spates. “We battled in a lot of the matches and came away with a couple of wins.”
SIUE’s victories came from Nate Higgins at 157 pounds and Chris Johnson at heavyweight.
Higgins, a redshirt freshman from nearby Millstadt, won his home debut as a Cougar with a 13-4 major decision over Missouri’s Matt Lemanowicz.
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“Nate’s team brought their whole team up. I told him it would be great to have him wrestle in front of his home crowd,” said Spates. Higgins competed at Belleville West High School.
Higgins dominated the match with four takedowns. He grabbed a 5-0 lead after two periods and controlled the tempo of the match.
Johnson blanked James Romero in the heavyweight match 5-0. Neither wrestler scored in the first two periods after Johnson rode Romero for the full two minutes of the second period. Johnson gained a reversal in the third period and earned a quick two points by putting Romero on his back. His final point was by earning the riding time point.
“Chris wrestled great,” said Spates. “We thought that was a weight class we could win coming into the dual. He wrestled from the beginning to the end. That was a nice way to end the night for the crowd.”
Missouri was in control of the match with two falls, a technical fall and four major decisions. It was the season opener for the Tigers. SIUE fell to 0-3.
The Cougars now have a quick turn-around for the Lindenwood Open on Saturday. Missouri, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Northern Illinois are expected to be among the team’s competing in the day-long event.
“It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow,” said Spates.