Posted: Mar 8, 2013 5:14 PM
Updated: Mar 9, 2013 8:56 AM
COLUMBIA - The No. 4-ranked Tigers will make history this weekend in Buffalo, NY as they compete in their first-ever Mid-American Conference Wrestling tournament.
Missouri (16-3) battled admirably at the National Duals at the University of Minnesota two weekends ago, earning third place in the tournament. The Tigers kicked off with a dominating 28-6 team victory over No. 6 Ohio State in the opening round. No. 1-ranked junior Alan Waters set the tone with a 3:08 pin over Ohio State's twelfth-ranked Nikko Triggas at 125 pounds. Seniors Todd Porter and Brent Haynes followed his lead with upsets of No. 6 Nick Heflin (Dec. 4-3) and No. 12 Andrew Campolattano (Dec. 5-0).
Missouri would fall to top-ranked Oklahoma State in the semifinals 22-9, but the fifth-ranked squad rebounded in the consolation round to upset the No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes. Waters knocked off top-ranked Hawkeye Matt McDonough 4-0 in the opening match and junior Kyle Bradley followed suit at 157 pounds, toppling No. 1 undefeated Derek St. John with a takedown in the final seconds.
Coming off the program's first Big 12 Championship last season, the Missouri wrestling squad accomplished another first when the program announced they would join the MAC Conference in 2012-13. Along withMissouri, Old Dominion and Northern Iowa joined as affiliate members of theMAC. Missouri defeated both of those schools earlier this year. The Tigers have squared off against two other MAC foes this season. In January, No. 11 Central Michigan edged Missouri at home 17-16. The Tigers responded the following weekend with wins over Northern Illinois and No. 21 Northern Iowa, 39-3 and27-9, respectively.
Central Michigan has won the MAC Tournament eleven years in a row dating back in 2001. This year's field includes two of the nation's top-ranked wrestlers, Missouri's Waters and Kent State's Dustin Kilgore at 197 pounds. CMU's Ben Bennett is the second-ranked 184-pounder and a three-time MAC conference champion. No. 3-ranked senior Dom Bradley has a long history with CMU's No. 7-ranked Jarod Trice. The two grapplers trained for the 2012 Olympics together last season. Bradley won their last matchup 3-1 via tiebreaker this past January.
Missouri leads the all schools in the tournament with six number one seeds at their respective weight classes, which can be found at the official Conference website. The MAC holds 30 of the 290 qualifying spots for the NCAA Championship bracket. Missouri was the only school in the nation to qualify all 10 starters for the 2012 NCAAs.
The Mid-American Conference Wrestling Championships will be held on Sunday, March 10 at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, NY. The matches begin at 9:00 a.m. CT and will conclude with the championship bouts at 4:20 p.m. CT.