We have wrestling back! This week the NCAA wrestling season will kick off with plenty of intriguing dual meets. Some of the exciting happenings of the first week of the wrestling season include the debuts of Tim Flynn at West Virginia and Chris Bono at Wisconsin, as well as Fresno State at Rutgers and Northwestern at North Dakota State. However, this distinction of dual of the week belongs to the “Grapple in the Grove” between Missouri and Illinois. The dual meet will take place 12:30 pm Saturday, November 3rd, outdoors at Grange Grove next to Illinois’ Memorial Stadium. At 2:30 pm Memorial Stadium will host Minnesota vs. Illinois on the gridiron. Last season these two teams led off the year with a dual against each other that was won by Missouri 20-17.
Missouri is coming off of a sixth-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Championships. That placement was slightly lower than anticipated for a team that went 19-0 overall. The Tigers lost 157 lber Joey Lavallee to graduation and All-American 197 lber Willie Miklus to a transfer. Throughout the early going in the 2018-19 season, they will be trying to settle on replacements for the pair. Even so, the Mizzou lineup should not drop off much; they feature three returning All-Americans and seven NCAA qualifiers.
Illinois will be starting year one without Isaiah Martinez in the lineup. IMar does return as a volunteer assistant, however. The Illini finished 14th in the nation last year, with a bulk of their points coming from the four-time All-American Martinez. A host of talented young grapplers will try to pick up where Martinez left off for Illinois. Second-ranked Emery Parker is the only returning All-American in Champaign, but there are others that seem to be on the cusp of AA’ing also.
As was the case in 2017-18, TOM will be picking against WrestleStat in our Dual of the Week.
#6 Missouri vs. #19 Illinois
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