The University of Northern Iowa closed the gap on defending conference champion Missouri in the January MAC polls, pulling to within three points of the Tigers. UNI put three men atop their respective weights; Dylan Peters at 125 and Taylor Lujan at 174 were there in December, but 133 pounder Josh Alber is number one for the first time this year.
Alber made number one after a strong showing at the Southern Scuffle. He took third at the tournament, defeating the #3 seeded Kevin Devoy (Drexel), twice in two days, the second time to earn his medal. Bryce Steiert, Max Thomsen, and Lujan all joined Alber on the stand with third place finishes.
Speaking of Thomsen, the 149 pounder probably should be ranked 3rd in the poll, as he defeated the current third-ranked man in Steve Bleise, from Northern Illinois this past Sunday. This poll was released Sunday morning, before the UNI/NIU dual. Thomsen will also have the chance at the number two-ranked man, Justin Oliver, this Sunday at Central Michigan.
141 pounder Jake Hodges also moved up one spot, tying for 3rd with EMU’s Kyle Springer. Steiert and Foster did not change places in the poll from last month, both staying at second. Heavyweight JJ Everard fell out of the poll.
The team race has gotten a lot tighter. The Missouri Tigers have 23.5 total points, and UNI has 20.5. While the Tigers have five men ranked number one, they and the Panthers both have seven men total in the poll. Central Michigan also has seven men ranked, but only one ranked number one. They have 16 points in the poll.
The complete Mid-American Conference Coach’s Poll can be found below
2017 MAC January Weight Class Rankings:
125 – 1. Dylan Peters (Northern Iowa, Senior); 2. Barlow McGhee (Missouri, Junior); 3. Shakur Laney (Ohio, Sophomore); 4. Brent Fleetwood (Central Michigan, Junior).
133 – 1. Josh Alber (Northern Iowa, Sophomore); 2. Cameron Kelly (Ohio, Sophomore); 3. Bryan Lantry (Buffalo, Sophomore); 4. Corey Keener (Central Michigan, Senior).
141 – 1. Jaydin Eierman (Missouri, R-Freshman); 2. Noah Forrider (Ohio, Junior); t-3. Kyle Springer (Eastern Michigan, Junior); t-3. Jake Hodges (Northern Iowa, Junior).
149 – 1. Lavion Mayes (Missouri, Senior); 2. Justin Oliver (Central Michigan, Sophomore); 3. Steve Bleise (Northern Illinois, Sophomore); 4. Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa, R-Freshman).
157 – 1. Joey Lavalle (Missouri, Junior); 2. Colin Heffernan (Central Michigan, Junior); 3. Caden McWhirter (Northern Illinois, R-Freshman); 4. Casey Sparkman (Kent State, Sophomore).
165 – 1. Daniel Lewis (Missouri, Sophomore); 2. Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa, Sophomore); 3. Austin Reese (Ohio, Sophomore); 4. Seldon Wright (Old Dominion, Sophomore).
174 – 1. Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa, R-Freshman); 2. C.J. Brucki (Central Michigan, Junior); 3. Trace Engelkes (Northern Illinois, Senior); 4. Jairod James (Kent State, Sophomore).
184 – 1. Jordan Ellingwood (Central Michigan, Junior); 2. Drew Foster (Northern Iowa, Sophomore); 3. Jack Dechow (Old Dominion, Senior); t-4. Matt Lemanowicz (Missouri, Senior); t-4. Bryce Gorman (Northern Illinois, Sophomore).
197 – 1. J’den Cox (Missouri, Senior); 2. Kevin Beazley (Old Dominion, Junior); 3. Shawn Scott (Northern Illinois, Senior); 4. Bailey Faust (Ohio, R-Freshman).
HWT – 1. Jake Gunning (Buffalo, Sophomore); 2. Gage Hutchison (Eastern Michigan, Junior); 3. Zack Parker (Ohio, Sophomore); 4. Newton Smerchek (Central Michigan, Junior).
2017 MAC January Wrestling Rankings
1. Missouri (23.5)
2. Northern Iowa (20.5)
3. Central Michigan (16.0)
4. Ohio (13.0)
5. Northern Illinois (8.5)
t-6. Old Dominion (6.0)
t-6. Buffalo (6.0)
8. Eastern Michigan (4.5)
9. Kent State (2.0)