Wrestling head coach Brian Smith inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

SPRINGFIELD, Mon. – University of Missouri wrestling coach brian smith was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday, November 20.

Early in his career as Missouri’s seventh head wrestling coach, Smith sat down with his team and created a list of goals he hoped would help the 1998 roster and future Tiger teams. Over the past 24 years, he and the many men who have gone through the Mizzou wrestling program have slowly but surely ticked off that original list. Individual Big 12 and MAC Conference champions, improved GPAs, record-breaking viewership, a national #1 ranking, and Missouri’s first-ever NCAA National Wrestling Champion were all on Smith’s to-do list. His unique “Tiger Style” training program has shaped today’s team into a national powerhouse that continues to seek the program’s first-team NCAA title.

Since being introduced as Missouri’s head wrestling coach on May 5, 1998, Smith has owned 21 consecutive seasons with a doubles record of .500 or more beginning with the 2001-02 season and has coached 29 All-Americans to 60 top-8 appearances and six Tigers to nine national championships.

Smith, the most successful coach in program history, has a record 319-114-4 during his more than 24-year tenure with Missouri. He became Missouri’s first 300-win coach in program history, surpassing the Jan. 8, 2021 milestone with a 30-6 triumph over No. 21 Central Michigan.

With a career win percentage of .737, Smith holds the highest win percentage in Mizzou wrestling history. From 2012 to 2017, he received six consecutive Conference Coach of the Year awards, including five consecutive awards from the MAC League Office. In addition, he has twice been recognized as the NCAA’s top wrestling coach in his career, first being named Dan Gable Coach of the Year by WIN Magazine in 2007, then Smith was named Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association in 2017.

Six Tiger wrestlers have reached the pinnacle of collegiate wrestling, collecting nine NCAA championships under Smith’s tenure, beginning with Ben Askren. During Askren’s Tigers career, Smith guided the 174-pound grappler to the program’s first consecutive national championship titles (2006 and 2007). On March 21, 2009, Mark Ellis became the second Missouri wrestler in program history to receive top honors. in 2010, Max Askren became the third national champion in the program’s history when he dominated the No. 1 in the 184-pound weight class with a 10-3 score. A true newcomer after a four-year drought J’den Cox won the program’s fifth national title in 2013–14 after defeating Ohio State’s Nick Heflin 2-1. A year later, Redshirt Senior Drake Houdshell ended his historic Tiger Style career with a 149-pound national championship at the 2015 NCAAs. In 2016, Cox returned to the top of the podium at Madison Square Garden and became the second two-time NCAA champion in program history. Cox then became the program’s first three-time national champion when he defended his title in 2017 to end his incredible Tiger career. 2022 freshman Keegan O’Toole became the Tigers’ first national champion at 165 pounds while completing their fourth undefeated singles season in program history, joining B. Askren (2006-07) and Cox (2017).

Additionally, Smith has helped guide two wrestlers to the Olympics. B. Askren became the first wrestler in the program’s history to compete in the Summer Games with an appearance at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, followed by Cox, who won bronze at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.

Smith is a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where his father coached football, and was a two-time wrestling state champion in 1984 at Oviedo High School and 1985 at St. Thomas Aquinas High School. A Florida native, she graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in education and married the former Denise Dean in 1993. Brian and Denise have three children, Quinn, Kylie and Braden. In the spring of 2009, Smith received his master’s degree in sports administration from William Woods University.

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