The MAC has release their pre-seeds for the conference tournament this weekend, and just like last season and with our Big Ten preview we’re going to break down each weight class. This year’s tournament will feature all nine teams (Buffalo was ineligible last season), so we’ll see eight-man brackets with one pigtail match at each weight.
Let us know what you think of the preview below, check back for articles, videos, and photos, and be sure to follow us @IAwrestle on Twitter all weekend for updates!
Date: March 5th and 6th
Times: March 5th: Session I starts at 1PM, Session II at 3PM, March 6th at 11AM
Location: Eastern Michigan’s Convocation Center, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Online Stats: TrackWrestling
All times are Central
Note: The wrestlers national ranking (if he is ranked) is included after their school.
125 – 4 Auto-Qualifiers
1- Dylan Peters, Northern Iowa #5
2- Barlow McGhee, Missouri #9
3- Brent Fleetwood, Central Michigan
4- Shakur Laney, Ohio
5- Brandon Jeske, Old Dominion
6- Kyle Akins, Buffalo
7- Alijah Jeffery, Northern Illinois
8/9- Armando Tores, Eastern Michigan
8/9- Del Vinas, Kent State
Panther Outlook: Dylan Peters pretty much ran away with the number one seed this season, or rather he would have if he had both legs to run on. Peters didn’t wrestle in the last couple of duals for UNI in an effort to rest his knee a little bit more before the final two tournaments, but when he was on the mat he only lost one match – the one he was injured. That said opponents will pick up on his injury (he’s got a huge knee brace on his left leg after all) and will try to take advantage of what they can. Until someone defeats Peters though I’m sticking with him.
The rest of the MAC: Missouri’s Barlow McGhee’s only loss on the year was to Peters and you can bet he’ll want to get some revenge on the Panther. McGhee only has one loss to a man outside the top 10 on the year. Central Michigan’s Brent Fleetwood could also be a threat to make the finals, but he’s dropped his last four straight matches (including to McGhee and Peters) and has only one since in his last seven matches. I’d look for Brandon Jeske to avenge an earlier loss in the season to Shakur Laney from Ohio as well to face Peters in the semifinals.
Finals Prediction: Dyaln Peters vs Barlow McGhee
133 – 6 Auto-Qualifiers
1- Mack McGuire, Kent State #8
2- Zach Synon, Missouri #15
3- Cameron Kelly, Ohio #14
4- Corey Keener, Central Michigan
5- Josh Alber, Northern Iowa #16
6- Emilio Saavedra, Old Dominion #11
7- Austin Eicher, Northern Illinois
8/9- Shayne Wireman, Eastern Michigan
8/9- Bryan Lantry, Buffalo
Panther Outlook: Josh Alber’s season got quite a bit tough than in late January and early February, where he lost nearly as many matches (three in three straight duals) than he had up to that point (four). Since then he’s recorded two pinfall wins coming into the championships and will hopefully be hitting a new level that we haven’t seen out of him yet. Remember last year he defeated Synon at the UNI Open, but he did fall 2-1 to the Tiger earlier this season. I like Alber to get some revenge this weekend and get a win over Corey Keener, who he should see in the opening round, and then he should have #1 Mack McGuire. No matter what I don’t think there’s any way that Alber doesn’t qualify.
The rest of the MAC: This is probably the deepest weight in the MAC this season, with the Midlands Champion the sixth seed in the tournament. McGuire, Synon, Cameron Kelly, Corey Keener, Alber, and Emilio Saavedra have all been ranked at one time or another in Intermat’s rankings this season, and Austin Eicher is no slouch either, having just defeated Synon at the NIU/Missouri dual last month (and guess who are matched up in the first round?), but I’m not sure that happens again so soon. I don’t quite believe in Synon yet, but I don’t think that Kelly has enough offense to get by him.
Finals Prediction: Mack McGuire vs Zach Synon
141 – 4 Auto-Qualifiers
1- Matt Manley, Missouri #8
2- Chris Mecate, Old Dominion #14
3- Steve Bleise, Northern Illinois #16
4- Zach Horan, Central Michigan #15
5- Trevor Jauch, Northern Iowa
6- Anthony Tutolo, Kent State
7- Kyle Springer, Eastern Michigan
8/9- Noah Forrider, Ohio
8/9- Brandon Lapi, Buffalo
Panther Outlook: Trevor Jauch looked to take over the 141 pound spot this season as a senior transfer from Missouri. Jake Koethe had other thoughts on that, and defeated Steve Bleise in the NIU/UNI dual meet, but Koethe hasn’t wrestled since January (he’s out with an injury) which has left Jauch the man at 141 and this potentially really messed the seedings up. Jauch defeated Chris Mecate in UNI’s dual at ODU, and if he had defeated Bleise then he would probably be looking at the 2/3 seed rather than the 4/5. That said though, Jauch has been banged up himself with a knee injury he sustained against Central Michigan’s Zach Horan, and guess who he’ll see in the first round? Jauch needs to get by Horan though to increase his chances of going to the NCAA tournament, but he was right there with him (a 4-3) loss at the dual and then lost a 4-3 decision to Matt Manley, so he’s right there he just needs to take the next step.
The rest of the MAC: Just like 133 this is a really deep weight for the MAC, and if Jauch would have been healthier I think he gets the conference another auto-bid. As it stands now though somebody pretty good is going to be left waiting to see if they get a wildcard. Steve Bleise, Mecate, and Horan have all beat up on each other pretty good, and the addition of a healthy Jauch will only add fuel to the 141-pound fire. This is a tough one for me, because I think a healthy Jauch defeats Horan and takes Manley to the edge, while Bleise will take down Mecate again on his way to the finals.
Finals Prediction: Matt Manley vs Steve Bleise
149 – 5 Auto-Qualifiers
1- Lavion Mayes, Missouri #4
2- Justin Oliver, Central Michigan #8
3- Alexander Richardson, Old Dominion #12
4- Mike DePalma, Kent State #18
5- Nick Barber, Eastern Michigan
6- Gabe Morse, Northern Illinois
7- Colt Cotton, Buffalo
8/9- Cullen Cummings, Ohio
8/9- Adam Perrin, Northern Iowa
Panther Outlook: 149 has been a tough weight for the Panthers this year, first with Gunnar Wolfensperger falling out of the lineup, then Jarrett Jensen, and then Jake Hodges. Adam Perrin stepped in for UNI during the Iowa State dual, and secured his only win of the season. Perrin was thrown into a nearly impossible situation and went 1-4 in his late-season matches, but his one win was against the Big 12 runner-up from last season. He’ll have to score several upsets to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
The rest of the MAC: Missouri’s Lavion Mayes has had a heck of a year, going 24-1 with his only loss coming to Nebraska’s Jake Sueflohn at the National Duals. He edged out both Justin Oliver and Alexander Richardson by one point in their respective duals, but pretty well handled KSU’s DePalma, 9-3. It looks like Oliver and Richardson are on a collision course to meet in the semifinal on the bottom half of the bracket, with Oliver taking their dual match 5-4. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nick Barber upset (and avenge a loss to) DePalma to see him in the semi’s against Mayes, but I think the Tiger makes the finals.
Finals Prediction: Lavion Mayes vs Alexander Richardson
157 – 5 Auto-Qualifiers
1- Ian Miller, Kent State #3
2- Luke Smith, Central Michigan #11
3- Bryce Steiert, Northern Iowa
4- Spartak Chino, Ohio
5- Le’Roy Barnes, Missouri
6- Andrew Morse, Northern Illinois
7- Devan Marry, Eastern Michigan
8/9- Alex Smythe, Buffalo
8/9- Devin Geoghegan, Old Dominion
Panther Outlook: UNI’s true freshman Bryce Steiert has been a solid starter this season. He’s beaten three top-20 wrestlers, but he’s also lost to a few as well. Steiert wrestled all but one dual for the Panthers, amassing a 6-2 mark in the MAC, with his two losses coming to those seeded above him. His loss to CMU’s Luke Smith was just a 1-0 decision, and hopefully Steiert has learned from that loss to get his offense going (and finishing) and that he might have to go underneath guys in order to win. Steiert hasn’t wrestled NIU’s Andrew Morse this season, but if the Panther can get by him, I expect him to give Smith all he can handle in the semifinals.
The rest of the MAC: Obviously the man to beat here is Ian Miller. The senior is undefeated this season, with his closest wins coming by three points. He did sit out the last couple of duals, but he should still be considered the heavy favorite to win the weight. Central Michigan’s Luke Smith was in the championship against Miller two years ago, with Miller coming out on top 9-4, but the two haven’t wrestled this season, so it will be interesting to see how Smith’s redshirt year has changed his strategy against the two-time MAC Champion. Ohio’s Spartak Chino and Northern Illinois’ Andrew Morse are also threats to walk away with an automatic bid, I just don’t see them having the horses to defeat any of the top three seeds.
Prediction: Ian Miller vs Bryce Steiert
165 – 4 Auto-Qualifiers
1- Daniel Lewis, Missouri #4
2- Cooper Moore, Northern Iowa #9
3- Austin Reese, Ohio
4- Tyler Buckwalter, Kent State
5- Seldon Wright, Old Dominion
6- Dakota Juarez, Eastern Michigan
7- Shaun’Qae McMurtry, Northern Illinois
8/9- Rrok Ndokaj, Buffalo
8/9- Colin Heffernan, Central Michigan
Panther Outlook: I think by now we all know Cooper Moore’s story – he’s a great wrestler, but just can’t stay healthy. After finally getting over elbow injuries he went out at the Midlands with a concussion, and then in his 6th match back he went down with an ankle injury before finishing up the season at Buffalo. Moore has defeated everybody in the MAC except for Daniel Lewis, but like he did when he wrestled Iowa State’s Tanner Weatherman, I think Moore takes a smarter approach to his rematch with Lewis. For my money there isn’t a better wrestler at 165 pounds in the MAC than Cooper Moore, and I look for him to win his third MAC Championship, and his second in a row as the second seed.
The rest of the MAC: Moore’s biggest roadblock to a third championship will be Missouri’s Daniel Lewis, who has beaten Moore once this season already, in December at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas. Lewis had a couple of head-scratching losses at the beginning of the year but went undefeated in the MAC, including a 17-1 tech fall win over the three seed Austin Reese, and a pinfall win over the four seed Tyler Buckwalter. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Moore go up against the sixth seed in Dakota Juarez, as he wrestled Lewis close (a four point loss) and has beaten Reese once this year, 3-1. I’m going chalk on this one though
Finals Prediction: Daniel Lewis vs Cooper Moore
174 – 3 Auto-Qualifiers
1- Mike Ottinger, Central Michigan #12
2- Blaise Butler, Missouri #7
3- Cody Walters, Ohio #9
4- Trace Engelkes, Northern Illinois
5- Jacob Davis, Eastern Michigan
6- Jeriod James, Kent State
7- Muhamid McBryde, Buffalo
8/9- Kyle Lux, Northern Iowa
8/9- Jared Swan, Old Dominion
Panther Outlook: 174 and 184 pounds have been areas of concern for the Panthers all season. Kyle Lux and Drew Foster battled it out at 174 for the first five duals, but when Cody Caldwell went out for the season with a neck injury, Foster bumped up to 184 (more on him below) and Lux was the man at 174. Lux hasn’t had the success he’s wanted this season, but the senior has battled and will have to continue to do so to fight for a trip to New York.
The rest of the MAC: This is kind of a weird weight seeding-wise, as Central Michigan’s Mike Ottinger is ranked 12th but seeded first, with two higher ranked wrestlers seeded below him. Ottinger has put together a really solid season, going 29-5 on the year and only losing one match to a man ranked outside the top 20. Ottinger also wrestled Penn State’s Bo Nickal to a close 4-3 loss at the Southern Scuffle and if not for his loss to Iowa State’s Lelund Weatherspoon would probably be ranked in the top 10.
Missouri’s Blaize Butler has also put together a good season, going 18-3 with losses only to Ottinger, #3 Brian Realbuto and #5 Bryce Hammond. Butler defeated the three seed in Cody Walters (21-3), who also has a loss to Ottinger. Walters hasn’t had as tough a road as either Ottinger or Butler, but he’s kept it to one point in each loss he’s had. NIU’s Trace Engelkes could make things interesting as well, but I don’t think he’ll get past Ottinger, but he should have the opportunity to wrestle back for third place, and if he gets Walters coming off a close match against Butler, maybe he can snag a qualifying spot.
Finals Prediction: Miking Ottinger vs Blaise Buterl.
184 – 4 Auto-Qualifiers
1- Willie Miklus, Missouri #10
2- Jack Dechow, Old Dominion #15
3- Andrew Romanchik, Ohio
4- Jordan Ellingwood, Central Michigan
5- Cole Baxter, Kent State
6- Derek Hillman, Eastern Michigan
7- Drew Foster, Northern Iowa
8/9- Joe Ariola, Buffalo
8/9- Quinton Rosser, Northern Illinois
Panther Outlook: Like I said above, once Cody Caldwell went out for the season at 184 the Panthers had to scramble a bit to find a replacement, and Drew Foster bumped up after wrestling at 174 most of the season. Foster has gone 1-7 at his new weight, securing a win only over Joe Ariola from Buffalo, to earn the 7 seed. He’ll wrestle the two seed in Jack Dechow from Old Dominion, and while Dechow has been a bit down lately, I think he’ll take a close match forcing Foster to the backside of the bracket.
The rest of the MAC: Willie Miklus and Jack Dechow are the two men that everybody is chasing right now at 184 in the conference. Neither man has lost to a MAC opponent all year (Miklus sat out of the Missouri/Old Dominion dual), and Dechow has an 8-0 win over Andrew Romanchik, the third seed. I think Miklus has a fairly clear path to the finals, with Dechow having a bit tougher road against Romanchik in the semis. I think the two MAC undefeated’s match up for yet another chalk match in the finals
Finals Prediction: Miklus vs Dechow
197 – 5 Auto-Qualifiers
1- J’den Cox, Missouri #2
2- Kyle Conel, Kent State #15
3- Phil Wellington, Ohio #16
4- Shawn Scott, Northern Illinois #19
5- Anthony Abro, Eastern Michigan #20
6- Jackson Lewis, Central Michigan
7- James Benjamin, Buffalo
8/9- Cody Krumweide, Northern Iowa
8/9- Terrell Forbes, Old Dominion
Panther Outlook: 197 pounds is the last weight of concern for the Panthers, as Cody Krumweide comes in with a 9-11 record including going winless in MAC competition (0-2). Krumweide has been splitting time with Jared Bartel, but Krumweide will be the man to go this weekend. Like Lux at 174 he’ll have an extra match to win before taking on the number one seeded J’den Cox. It will be a tough road for him, but if he can get his first win and then one more match on the backside there’s an outside chance of him securing a spot to the NCAA’s
The rest of the MAC: NCAA champion from two seasons ago, J’den Cox has been on a mission to return to the top of the 197 pound weight class. He defeated the number 4 and 5 seed by a combined score of 26-6 in their dual matches. His only loss came as a disqualification against Ohio’s Phil Wellington, after both men went out of bounds into the scorers table. Cox even bumped up to heavyweight (after already weighing in at 197) to defeated Cornell’s Jeramy Sweany by tech fall in Missouri’s dual against the Big Red. I don’t think anybody stops Cox this season. Conel and Wellington both have a chance against Cox, but I’d give the nod Wellington if only because Cox didn’t get to wrestle him for the full seven minutes in their last match. However I don’t think Wellington beats Conel, and the Kent State wrestler makes the finals. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Anthony Abro from EMU defeated Shawn Scott from NIU to face Cox in the semifinal
Finals Prediction: J’den Cox vs Kyle Conel
285 – 1 Auto-Qualifier
1- Blaize Cabell, Northern Iowa #18
2- Gage Hutchison, Eastern Michigan
3- Jake Gunning, Buffalo
4- Newton Smerchek, Central Michigan
5- Austin Coburn, Old Dominion
6- Arthur Bunce, Northern Illinois
7- Devin Nye, Kent State
8/9- Jesse Webb, Ohio
8/9- Cody Johnston, Missouri
Panther Outlook: This one is pretty simple: Cabell is the man at heavyweight for UNI and the MAC conference. If I’m Cabell I’m not going under neither anybody, just in case, and I’m working on building up offense against guys with a similar style to his (not really anybody else in the conference though, so maybe the point is moot). If Cabell is upset anywhere in this tournament it’s a pretty big deal.
The rest of the MAC: I like Jake Gunning out of Buffalo and Gage Hutchison out of Eastern Michigan, it’s almost too bad Cabell can’t wrestle them both again, because those were two of his closest matches all year. I like Gunning to score the upset over Hutchison in the semifinals and face Cabell in a rematch from their dual two weeks ago
Finals Prediction: Blaize Cabell vs Jake Gunning