The Mid-American Conference coaches release their pre-season rankings Wednesday, and the Panthers earned five wrestlers in the top four. All five are looking to repeat as NCAA qualifiers this year and Dylan Peters (125 pounds) is trying to improve his spot on the podium after taking sixth last year.
The five Panthers are Peters (2nd at 125), Levi Wolfensperger (tied for first at 133), Cooper Moore (first 165), Cody Caldwell (third at 184) and Blaize Cabell (second at 285).
In addition to being third, Caldwell is listed at 184, something that had not been confirmed until today.
In addition to the individuals being ranked the MAC ranked each school based on the number of first through fourth place votes that were earned. First place vote was worth four team points, second three points, third two points, and a fourth place vote was worth 1 point. Missouri was ranked first in the team poll with 27 points and Old Dominion was second with 18 points. UNI was ranked third with 15.5 points, and Kent State (13.5) and Ohio (12.0) rounded out the top five.
The MAC will not be an easy conference to win this year. Missouri, ODU, UNI and Kent State all return at least one All-American, and Missouri’s 197 pounder J’Den Cox became the ninth MAC wrestler in the history of the conference to place first at the NCAA’s. Ohio is looking to have a breakout year (ranked number 24 in the Associated Wrestling Press’s 50 in 50) with talent from 149-197 and Central Michigan will not go quietly into the bottom half of the MAC either.
The coaches of the MAC will vote on their top four every month throughout the year, with two polls going out in January and February. Here are the complete rankings in each weight class, as well as the complete pre-season team poll:
2014-15 MAC Weight Class Rankings:
125 – 1. Alan Waters (Missouri, Senior); 2. Dylan Peters (Northern Iowa, Sophomore); 3. Brandon Jeske (Old Dominion, Sophomore); 4. KeVon Powell (Ohio, Junior).
133 – t1. Levi Wolfensperger (Northern Iowa, Senior); t1. Mack McGuire (Kent State, Junior); 3. Vincent Pizzuto (Eastern Michigan, Junior); 4. Matt Manley (Missouri, Sophomore).
141 – 1. Chris Mecate (Old Dominion, Junior); 2. Zach Horan (Central Michigan, Junior); 3. Lavion Mayes (Missouri, Sophomore); 4. Tyler Small (Kent State, Senior).
149 – 1. Drake Houdashelt (Missouri, Senior); 2. Alexander Richardson (Old Dominion, Junior); 3. Mike DePalma (Kent State, Junior); 4. Tywan Claxton (Ohio, Junior).
157 – 1. Ian Miller (Kent State, Junior); 2. Lucas Smith (Central Michigan, Junior); 3. Joey Lavallee (Missouri, Sophomore); 4. Spartak Chino (Ohio, Junior).
165 – 1. Cooper Moore (Northern Iowa, Sophomore); 2. Harrison Hightower (Ohio, Senior); 3. Tristan Warner (Old Dominion, Senior); 4. Shaun’Qae McMurtry (Northern Illinois, Sophomore).
174 – 1. Cody Walters (Ohio, Junior); 2. Mikey England (Missouri, Senior); 3. Caleb Marsh (Kent State, Senior); 4. Collin Zeerip (Eastern Michigan, Senior).
184 – 1. Jack Dechow (Old Dominion, Sophomore); 2. Johnny Eblen (Missouri, Senior); 3. Cody Caldwell (Northern Iowa, Junior); 4. Caleb Busson (Northern Illinois, Senior).
197 – 1. J’Den Cox (Missouri, Sophomore); 2. Phil Wellington (Ohio, Junior); 3. Shawn Scott (Northern Illinois, Sophomore); 4. Kevin Beazley (Old Dominion, Sophomore).
HWT – 1. Devin Mellon (Missouri, Senior); 2. Blaize Cabell (Northern Iowa, Junior); 3. Matt Tourdot (Old Dominion, Senior); 4. Mimmo Lytle (Kent State, Sophomore).
2014-15 MAC Preseason Poll
1. Missouri (27.0)
2. Old Dominion (18.0)
3. Northern Iowa (15.5)
4. Kent State (13.5)
5. Ohio (12.0)
6. Central Michigan (6.0)
7. Northern Illinois (4.0)
8. Eastern Michigan (3.0)
9. Buffalo (0.0)