It’s that time of year again, when the preseason polls come out in ernest and the Mid-American Conference coaches poll made it’s debut Wednesday. UNI placed six men in the poll, splitting the rankings with three at the top spot, and three at number 4. The coaches will put out a poll every month, with two coming in January. As far as the team race goes, two-time defending MAC Champion Missouri comes in first with 21 points, Ohio is second with 16 points, and UNI and Old Dominion tied for 3rd with 15 points.
The Panthers are led by two-time defending MAC Champion Cooper Moore at 165 pounds. Moore had two pins at the NCAA tournament last year but fell one win shy of becoming an All-American. He leads a relatively young weight in the MAC, followed by two more juniors in Northern Illinois’ Shaun’Qae McMurtry and Central Michigan’s Jordan Wohlfert.
The two bookends of UNI’s lineup also drew a top spot in the coaches poll. At 125 pounds Dylan Peters looks to get back to the top of the MAC after getting second last year to Missouri’s Alan Waters. Peters also will look to change his result at the NCAA’s this year after going 0-2 last season. The Panther was an All-American his freshman season.
The heavyweight Blaize Cabell regains his top spot in the poll after being ranked number one for a good portion of last season. Cabell was also an NCAA qualifier last year, and like his counterpart at 165, fell one match short of becoming an All-American. Cabell went 28-7 last season, defeating some top-ten talent along the way, and wants to improve on last years effort and get to the podium.
Jarrett Jensen probably leads the way for the other three wrestlers that are ranked in the top four. All three secured the number four spot, with Jensen behind Kent State’s Ian Miller, Central Michigan’s Lucas Smith, and Ohio’s Spartak Chino. Jensen defeated Miller and Spartak last season, both victories coming in dual meets on the road.
At 141 pounds Jake Hodges makes his first appearance of his career in the poll. Hodges had a disappointing year last year, but really came on strong at the MAC tournament, and was only two points away from an auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Rounding things out for UNI is Cody Caldwell at 184. Caldwell is coming off an injury-plagued season last year and will try to get back to the NCAA tournament after qualifying his sophomore year. Getting a full off-season of rest hopefully helped Caldwell and I’d expect him to get this ranking higher as the season goes on.
Another name that Iowan’s might be interested in at 184 is Willie Miklus. The Missouri sophomore comes in at 2nd in the MAC, after dropping a 6-4 decision to number one Jack Dechow from ODU last March for the conference crown.
The complete preseason poll can be found below:
2015-16 MAC Weight Class Rankings:
125 – 1. Dylan Peters (Northern Iowa, Junior); 2. Brandon Jeske (Old Dominion, Junior); 3. Brent Fleetwood (Central Michigan, Sophomore); 4. Barlow McGhee (Missouri, Sophomore).
133 – 1. Zach Synon (Missouri, Junior); 2. Mack McGuire (Kent State, Senior); 3. Corey Keener (Central Michigan, Junior); 4. KeVon Powell (Ohio, Senior).
141 – 1. Chris Mecate (Old Dominion, Senior); 2. Zach Horan (Central Michigan, Senior); 3. Lavion Mayes (Missouri, Junior); 4. Jake Hodges (Northern Iowa, Sophomore).
149 – 1. Alexander Richardson (Old Dominion, Senior); 2. Joey Lavallee (Missouri, Junior); 3. Tywan Claxton (Ohio, Senior); 4. Mike DePalma (Kent State, Senior).
157 – 1. Ian Miller (Kent State, Senior); 2. Lucas Smith (Central Michigan, Senior); 3. Spartak Chino (Ohio, Senior); 4. Jarrett Jensen (Northern Iowa, Senior).
165 – 1. Cooper Moore (Northern Iowa, Junior); 2. Shaun’Qae McMurtry (Northern Illinois, Junior); 3. Jordan Wohlfert (Central Michigan, Junior); 4. Daniel Lewis (Missouri, Redshirt Freshman).
174 – 1. Cody Walters (Ohio, Senior); 2. Blaise Butler (Missouri, Senior); 3. Mike Ottinger (Central Michigan, Senior); 4. Trace Engelkes (Northern Illinois, Junior).
184 – 1. Jack Dechow (Old Dominion, Junior); 2. Willie Miklus (Missouri, Sophomore); 3. Andrew Romanchik (Ohio, Senior); 4. Cody Caldwell (Northern Iowa, Senior).
197 – 1. J’Den Cox (Missouri, Junior); 2. Phil Wellington (Ohio, Senior); 3. Anthony Abro (Eastern Michigan, Senior); 4. Shawn Scott (Northern Illinois, Junior).
HWT – 1. Blaize Cabell (Northern Iowa, Senior); 2. Mimmo Lytle (Kent State, Junior); 3. Jesse Webb (Ohio, Sophomore); 4. Gage Hutchison (Eastern Michigan, Sophomore).
2015-16 MAC Preseason Poll:
1. Missouri (21.0)
2. Ohio (16.0)
t3. Northern Iowa (15.0)
t3. Old Dominion (15.0)
5. Central Michigan (14.0)
6. Kent State (11.0)
7. Northern Illinois (5.0)
8. Eastern Michigan (3.0)
9. Buffalo (0.0)