COLUMBIA- Mizzou wrestling held it's first official practice for the 2021-22 season this afternoon.

The Tigers are coming back strong, returning All-Americans, such as Brock Mauller and Keegan O'Toole. The Tigers also finished ranked fifth nationally last season.

Mizzou wrestling also returned to the Big 12 after competing in the Mid-American Conference for the past nine years. They join the likes of other top programs in the country such as Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Oklahoma.

However, for head coach Brian Smith, re-joining the Big 12 Conference doesn't change anything in their eyes.

"For us, nothing really changes," said Smith. "We're coaching the same, we're approaching practice the same way. Nothing changes with the talent we have in the room."

Some of the team remembers Mizzou the last time they were in the Big 12. While it was nine years ago when they left, some of the memories the team has about the program back then sticks with them to this day.

"The thing we joke about around here is we're returning Big 12 champions because we won it the last time we were in it," said freshman wrestler Rocky Elam. "Growing up, I looked up to the guys that were wrestling in the Big 12, and I remember watching the Big 12 tournament and seeing guys, like Dom Bradley, who's still in our room."

Heading into this season, the Tigers have their eye on the prize: a national championship. The culture they have built and the amount of returners for their team has them confident they can achieve this goal.

"I just see it throughout the room," said Smith. "Guys are helping each other. This team wants to elevate itself and get better from last year. They were not happy with last year's performance."

The Tigers open up their season and Big 12 campaign on the road at North Dakota State on Nov. 11.

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