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University of Missouri

Wrestle Brainia

Senior wrestler captures NCAA championship.

Drake Houdashelt

Mizzou wrestler Drake Houdashelt celebrates after winning the 2015 NCAA championship in the 149-pound weight class. Photo by Shane Epping.

Wrestling came naturally to redshirt senior Drake Houdashelt, Mizzou’s latest NCAA champion, who defeated Edinboro University’s David Habat 3–1 in overtime for the 149-pound title March 21, 2015, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. A two-time state champion at Fort Zumwalt West High School in O’Fallon, Missouri, Houdashelt grappled with his older brothers before training with nationally respected St. Louis-area coach Nick Purler.

But it took some help from high school English teacher Kelly Barban to get him up to snuff for Mizzou Coach Brian Smith’s academically proud squad.

In high school, it never occurred to me how good my grades needed to be,” says Houdashelt, the first in his family to attend college. “She really took me under her wing and taught me how to study. My senior year, I got straight A’s.”

Houdashelt now plans to parlay his 3.0 cumulative college GPA into an MU master’s degree in positive coaching and to pursue a coaching career.