St. Louis hosts wrestling championship

March, 14, 2012

Editor's note: Mechelle Voepel speaks with Wyoming senior Joe LeBlanc.

Might the home-state team, Missouri, have a shot at the team title at the NCAA wrestling championships in St. Louis?

Well, on March 3 in Columbia, Mo., the Tigers did win their first -- and last -- Big 12 wrestling title. Missouri is moving next season to the SEC, which doesn't sponsor wrestling. With Nebraska's departure this year to the Big Ten, that left just four wrestling programs in the Big 12 in 2011-12.

But the schools that Missouri beat for the league crown are all strong: 34-time NCAA champion Oklahoma State, and Iowa State and Oklahoma, which have each won seven NCAA titles.

Missouri has never won an NCAA wrestling team title, but for the first time in program history it's sending all 10 of its wrestlers to the national championships. And as unpredictable as this season has been, maybe the Tigers will pull a big surprise.

Penn State is the defending NCAA team champion and won the Big Ten title on March 4 for the second season in a row. Three of the Nittany Lions enter the NCAA meet seeded No. 1 in their weight class: Frank Molinaro (149), David Taylor (165) and Ed Ruth (174).

Minnesota beat Oklahoma State on the Cowboys' home mat in February for the National Duals title, an event that Penn State didn't compete in. The Gophers and Cowboys are among the contenders, as is Iowa. Illinois and Cornell might be in the mix, too.

Speaking of Cornell, junior Kyle Dake will be trying to achieve a first: to win three NCAA titles in three different weight classes. He was the 141-pound champion as a freshman, the 149 winner last year, and is wrestling at 157 this year.

The meet, which runs Thursday-Saturday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, has expanded its coverage. Thursday's two sessions, at noon and 7:30 p.m. ET, will be available on ESPN3.

Friday's sessions, at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET, are on ESPNU and ESPN3.

Saturday's morning session, at 11 a.m. ET, is on ESPNU and ESPN3. Saturday's championship finals, which start at 7:30 p.m. ET, will be on ESPN and


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