Bryce SteiertThe coaches of the Mid-American Conference put out their first regular season poll today, and there’s not much movement for the Panthers from their pre-season standings. UNI comes in at second, with a total of 16 team points, while Missouri comes in first with 30.5. Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Northern Illinois round out the top five.

There were just two wrestlers for UNI who moved in the poll; Bryce Steiert moved up into a tied with Joey Lavalle for first place at 157 pounds, and Jake Koethe moved down one spot into a tie for third with Noah Forrider at 141 pounds. Steiert bumped up having not wrestled at all yet this year, while Koethe slid after a disappointing appearance at the Grand View Open last Saturday.

Steiert joins teammate Dylan Peters as the only two Panthers in the top spot of the poll. Cooper Moore and JJ Everard came in at second, while Josh Alber was voted fourth. UNI has no wrestlers ranked at 149, 174, 184, or 197 pounds.

The full release from the MAC can be found below:

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Coming off another successful wrestling season that witnessed the 11th MAC Individual National Champion in league history, an Olympic Bronze medal winner, 10 All-Americans and 45 wrestlers seeded in the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championship, the rise of MAC wrestling continues for the 2016-17 regular season.

The Mid-American Conference wrestling coaches announced the November weight class individual rankings in conjunction with the league office today. Based on the individual rankings, four-time defending MAC Champion Missouri Tigers (30.5 points) were selected first in the Conference over second-place Northern Iowa (16.0 points) and third-place Central Michigan (13.0 points).

The November ranking also witnessed Eastern Michigan (9.0 points) in fourth place and Northern Illinois (8.5 points) in fifth place, while Buffalo (6.0 points) and Old Dominion (6.0 points) tied for sixth place. Rounding out the rankings were Ohio and Kent State tied for eighth place.

Last season, the MAC witnessed Missouri junior J’den Cox become the league’s first-ever two-time NCAA Champion. Cox became the 11th MAC wrestler in Conference history to win an individual National Championship. Cox won the 197 weight class with a 4-2 win over Penn State’s Morgan McIntosh at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Cox is the fourth MAC National Champion in the last six years, joining Missouri’s Drake Houdashelt in 2015 (149 weight class), Cox in 2014 (197 weight class) and Kent State’s Dustin Kilgore in 2011 (197 weight class).

Cox also earned an Olympic bronze medal with a win over Cuba’s Reineris Salas Perez in the 86-kg freestyle competition. Cox is now a three-time MAC Champion, two-time NCAA Champion and Olympic bronze medal winner.

The MAC had 10 All-Americans in 2016 and will see six of these All-Americans returning this season, including senior J’den Cox (Missouri, 197); senior Lavion Mayes (Missouri, 149); sophomore Daniel Lewis (Missouri, 165) and junior Willie Miklus (Missouri, 184), along with senior Dylan Peters (Northern Iowa, 125) and sophomore Justin Oliver (Central Michigan, 149).

In addition, four MAC wrestlers who won their respective weight class at the 2016 MAC Wrestling Championships will be returning this season as well: Barlow McGhee (Missouri, 125); Daniel Lewis (Missouri, 165); Jordan Ellingwood (Central Michigan, 184); and J’Den Cox (Missouri, 197).

In the fall of 2012, the MAC announced the addition of Missouri, Northern Iowa and Old Dominion as affiliate members in the sport of wrestling. All three universities joined the MAC with five-year agreements, as Missouri and Northern Iowa joined the MAC for the 2013 conference tournament and then to participate in regular season and tournament action for four consecutive years (2013-14 season thru 2016-17 academic season). Old Dominion joined the MAC for the 2013-14 regular season and tournament through the 2017-18 academic season.

The rankings will be released each month throughout the season, with one additional ranking system (two total) in January and February. The 2016-17 November rankings, voted on by the league’s head coaches in an open forum are as follows:

2016-17 MAC November Weight Class Rankings:
125 – 1. Dylan Peters (Northern Iowa, Senior); 2. Barlow McGhee (Missouri, Junior); 3. Brent Fleetwood (Central Michigan, Junior); 4. Brandon Jeske (Old Dominion, Senior).

133 – 1. Corey Keener (Central Michigan, Senior); 2. Jaydin Eierman (Missouri, R-Freshman); 3. Cameron Kelly (Ohio, Sophomore); 4. Josh Alber (Northern Iowa, Sophomore).

141 – 1. Matt Manley (Missouri, Senior); 2. Kyle Springer (Eastern Michigan, Junior); t-3. Jake Koethe (Northern Iowa, Sophomore); t-3. Noah Forrider (Ohio, Junior).

149 – 1. Lavion Mayes (Missouri, Senior); 2. Justin Oliver (Central Michigan, Sophomore); 3. Steve Bleise (Northern Illinois, Sophomore); 4. Nick Barber (Eastern Michigan, Senior).

157 – t-1. Joey Lavalle (Missouri, Junior); t-1. Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa, Sophomore); 3. Colin Heffernan (Central Michigan, Junior); 4. Casey Sparkman (Kent State, Sophomore).

165 – 1. Daniel Lewis (Missouri, Sophomore); 2. Cooper Moore (Northern Iowa, Senior); 3. Austin Reese (Ohio, Sophomore); 4. Dakota Juarez (Eastern Michigan, Sophomore).

174 – t-1. Trace Engelkes (Northern Illinois, Senior); t-1. Jairod James (Kent State, Sophomore); 3. Jacob Davis (Eastern Michigan, Senior); 4. Dylan Wisman (Missouri, R-Freshman).

184 – 1. Willie Miklus (Missouri, Junior); 2. Jack Dechow (Old Dominion, Senior); 3. Jordan Ellingwood (Central Michigan, Junior); 4. Joe Ariola (Buffalo, Junior).

197 – 1. J’Den Cox (Missouri, Senior); 2. Shawn Scott (Northern Illinois, Senior); 3. Kevin Beazley (Old Dominion, Junior); 4. James Benjamin (Buffalo, Senior).

HWT – 1. Jake Gunning (Buffalo, Sophomore); 2. JJ Everard (Northern Iowa, Senior); 3. Gage Hutchison (Eastern Michigan, Junior); 4. Devin Nye (Kent State, Sophomore).

The preseason team rankings were also decided in the same forum. The nine schools were ranked based on the number of first through fourth-place votes that were earned in the individual voting system. A first-place vote was worth four team points; a second-place vote earned three team points; third-seeded votes were worth two team points, while a fourth-place tally earned one point in the team ranking system. The November team rankings for the MAC are as follows:

2016-17 MAC November Wrestling Rankings
1. Missouri (30.5)
2. Northern Iowa (16.0)
3. Central Michigan (13.0)
4. Eastern Michigan (9.0)
5. Northern Illinois (8.5)
t-6. Buffalo (6.0)
t-6. Old Dominion (6.0)
t-8. Kent State (5.5)
t-8. Ohio (5.5)

The 2017 MAC Wrestling Championships will be held March 4-5 and hosted by the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Last year, Missouri won its fourth consecutive MAC Championship with 127.5 points, followed by second-place Central Michigan (93.5 points). Ohio (76.0 points) finished third, followed by Kent State (75.5 points), Northern Iowa (73.5 points), Northern Illinois (65.0 points), Buffalo (56.0 points), Eastern Michigan (54.5 points) and Old Dominion (36.5 points).