MAC Wrestling Championships Come to Alumni Arena
BUFFALO, NY - Some of the very best talent in the nation will be on display at Alumni Arena on Sunday, as the new era of Mid-American Conference wrestling begins. The all-day eight-team tournament that features 41 individuals ranked in the final NCAA coaches top-33 rankings. This marks the first time that fourth-ranked Missouri and 22nd-ranked Northern Iowa join the MAC, expanding the field to eight teams.
The 125 pound division received four automatic qualifier bids to the NCAA tournament.
At 133, Justin Farmer will represent the Bulls in what is expected to be a fiercely contested division. Three wrestlers who are ranked in the top 10 nationally, with Missouri's Nathan McCormick coming in ranked fifth in the country and the top seed in the tournament. Scotti Sentes, a two-time All-American and two-time MAC champion returns from a 2012 redshirt season and will be the second seed, and Northern Iowa's Levi Wolfensperger will sit as the third seed as the tenth ranked wrestler at 133 nationally. Farmer will be the seventh seed.
The 133 pound division received three automatic qualifier bids to the NCAA tournament.
The 141 pound division received only automatic qualifier bid to the NCAA tournament, meaning only the champion is guaranteed a place at nationals.
At 149, 12th-ranked Drake Houdasheldt of Missouri comes in as the top seed, but this division could prove to be the most competitive division on Sunday. Blake Roulo has been assigned the sixth overall seed, but is motivated after placing second in last year's MAC tournament. After starting the season slow with a 5-7 record, he has gone 11-3 since then and won six of the final seven duals.
The 149 pound division received two automatic qualifier bids to the NCAA tournament.
At 157 pounds, Wally Maziarz will represent Buffalo as the seventh seed in another division full of parity. The top five seeds are all ranked between 15 and 31 in the coaches poll, headlined by top-seeded Kyle Bradley of Missouri. Maziarz ended the season with adversity after a strong start to the season that saw him push his overall record as high as 17-5 as of Dec. 2. He finished with 23 wins overall, good for second on the team.
The 157 pound division received three automatic qualifier bids to the NCAA tournament.
At 165 pounds, Mark Lewandowski will enter his final conference tournament as the third seed in the tournament, a surprising development for the senior, who is the highest ranked MAC wrestler nationally (eighth in the RPI rankings and 14th in the coaches poll). Mike Ottinger of Central Michigan earns the top seed and Zach Toal of Missouri is seeded second. Lewandowski met Toal in the national tournament last season, beating him 3-1. Coming into the tournament with a 28-6 overall record, Lewandowski ended the season on a nine-dual meet win streak, and won nine straight overall matches. After losing the 165 pound title to Ottinger in 2012, Lewandowski looks to cap his career at home with his second conference title.
The 165 pound division received two automatic qualifier bids to the NCAA tournament.
At 174 pounds, the season of adversity for senior John-Martin Cannon all comes down to Sunday. After sitting out over a month to help heal an ailing knee injury, Cannon returns as the fourth seed in the tournament. Missouri's Todd Porter is the top seed and the 10th ranked wrestler nationally. Cody Walters and Sam Wheeler earned the second and third seeds, respectfully, after beating Cannon earlier in the season.
At 184, Tony Lock will be the seventh seed in a competitive bracket. Ben Bennett of Central Michigan is ranked second in the nation and is the clear-cut top seed in the bracket. He is looking to become just the fifth wrestler in MAC history to win four individual titles. Ryan Loder of Northern Iowa is ranked sixth in the nation and will sit as the second seed, and #12 Mike Larson of Missouri is ranked third. Lock returned from injury on Feb. 16 after missing two full months of competition, and he finished with an 8-10 record.
The 184 pound division received four automatic qualifier bids to the NCAA tournament.
At 197 pounds, Dustin Kilgore comes into Sunday as the top-ranked wrestler in the country and is the top seed. After winning the 2011 national title, Kilgore took an Olympic redshirt and returns to the MAC now in hopes of joining an exclusive group of wrestlers who won four individual conference titles. Brent Haynes of Missouri is the second seed, and Nick Whiteburg of Eastern Michigan is seeded third. Buffalo's Angelo Malvestuto returned from injury after two months and proved enough to garner the fifth seed.
The 197 pound division received three automatic qualifier bids to the NCAA tournament.
Last but certainly not least is heavyweight, where three of the top 16 wrestlers in the nation will compete. Dom Bradley of Missouri has been ranked by most media outlets as the top heavyweight in the country, but comes in ranked second in the coaches poll and is the top seed. Jarod Trice is right behind him at sixth nationally and is the second seed. Rounding out the nationally ranked wrestlers is Jeremy Johnson of Ohio, who is the defending MAC heavyweight champion. For Buffalo, Justin Heiserman is the seventh seed.
The heavyweight division received three automatic qualifier bids to the NCAA tournament.
Quarterfinals begin on three mats at 10 am, and the consolation and championship semifinal round will begin at 1 pm. The Championship Finals Parade will be held at 5 pm, with championships to be held at 5:20 pm. True placing matches will take place immediately after the finals are completed, where qualifying bids are available.
TICKETS: ADULTS: $10; SENIORS/YOUTHS: $7
CURRENT STUDENTS OF PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS FREE WITH COLLEGE ID
TO PURCHASE TICKETS IN ADVANCE CALL THE UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO TICKET OFFICE AT 1-877-UB-THERE