Minium: Missouri a Huge Favorite, But Expect ODU To Do Well in MAC Wrestling This Weekend in Norfolk
By ODU Athletics
By Harry Minium
Old Dominion hasn't hosted a conference wrestling tournament in ten years. The last time came in 2009, when the Colonial Athletic Association championships were held at Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake.
That decade-long drought ends Friday when the Mid-American Conference tournament begins its two-day run at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. The tournament culminates with championship matches Saturday at 2.
With the exception of the Virginia Duals, which annually brings some of the nation's best collegiate wrestling teams to Hampton, this is the best chance people in Hampton Roads have had in years to see some of the nation's wrestling.
Missouri is the nation's fifth-ranked team and will be in the hunt for the national title at the NCAA Championships later this month in Pittsburgh.
Two Missouri wrestlers – John Erneste at 133 pounds and Daniel Lewis at 174 – are ranked second nationally, according to the wrestling RPI, and seven Mizzou wrestlers were seeded first in the MAC.
Unless there are upsets of monumental proportions, ODU won't win the team title.
“Missouri is a national power,” ODU coach Steve Martin said.
Missouri had won 35 dual meets in a row until a a 4-point home loss to Oklahoma State last week, a match witnessed by a sellout throng of more than 4,000 people.
But that doesn't mean that ODU won't give the home crowd a lot to cheer for. ODU hopes to finish second and two Monarch wrestlers are favored to win ten of the individual titles. Michael McGee is seeded first at 125 and Larry Early first at 157.
Early, in fact, could be a threat in the NCAA tournament. He is ranked eighth nationally in the RPI.
MAC tournament schedule
Friday, March 8
2:00 p.m., doors open to public
3:00 p.m., Quarterfinals (40 matches, 3 Mats)
6:00 p.m., Consolation Round 1 (20 Matches, 1 Mat)
Championship Semifinals (20 Matches, 2 Mats)
Saturday, March 9
11:00 a.m., doors open to the public
12:00 noon, Consolation semifinals (20 Matches, 3 Mats)
1:05 p.m., seventh place matches (10 Matches, 3 Mats)
2:00 p.m., championship finals; third Place Matches; fifth Place Matches (3 Mats)
Ticket prices: $25 for single session; $30 for all sessions; $130 for all session VIP package.
For tickets, click here.
ODU's Sa'Derian Perry wrestled for Eastern Michigan last year, which since dropped the sport, and was an All-American last season at the NCAA tournament.
He is ranked 17th nationally, but is seeded fourth this weekend at 141, the most talent-laden weight class in the MAC.
Missouri's Jaydin Eierman is ranked 4th nationally and Buffalo's Bryan Lantry 13th and Cameron Kelly of Ohio 14th.
“That's a tough weight class,” Martin said. “But Sa'Derian could win.
"Being at home is going to help us. Having the home field advantage and having our fans here is a big plus.
ODU's Michael McGee is ranked No. 1 at 125 pounds for ODU entering this weekend's MAC tournament.
“McGee, Early and Perry, they've been our leaders all year.”
The trio are headed to the NCAA tournament regardless of where they finish in the MAC, but that's not the case for most of ODU's other wrestlers. Judged on seeding alone, ODU's Kevin Budock (149), Antonio Agree (184) are expected to get into the finals. Both are seeded No. 2.
“They've got a good shot,” Martin said. “But they've got tough matches before the final.
“We know we have three guys going to the nationals, but we want to get more. We've got a young team, and we'd like to get some of our young guys experience there.”
The MAC, in case you didn't know, is a Midwestern conference often known as the little Big Ten, because most of its schools are in Ohio and Michigan. The league began taking in expansion teams as MAC schools dropped wrestling for financial reasons.
ODU's Larry Early is seeded first in this weekend's MAC tournament and is ranked eighth nationally.
Buffalo, Ohio, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois and Kent State are MAC members in all sports.
ODU joined the MAC in 2013 when the school left the CAA. Missouri joined the MAC the game year when it left the Big 12 for the SEC, and has won all six titles since. It is the only Power 5 school that wrestles in the MAC.
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville joined the MAC this season.
Next season, the MAC will expand from eight schools to at least 15 as it absorbs the Eastern Wrestling League. That will strengthen the league, as Lock Haven and Edinboro have nationally prominent programs, and will give ODU a Virginia rival in George Mason.
Others moving over are Bloomsburg, Clarion, Rider and Cleveland State.
ODU coach Steve Martin says he's glad the MAC tournament is being held in Norfolk, and also believes expansion will be good for the league.
Martin said that one or two more schools may join the MAC.
“There are some interested in joining and I know talks are going on,” he said.
“I think the expansion is good for the MAC. It will become the second-largest league in the country.
“It's also good for us.”
The MAC will split into divisions next year, with ODU in the East with the seven former Eastern Wrestling League schools.
MAC tournament seeding by weight class
1 - Michael McGee, Old Dominion
2 - Drew Hildebrandt, Central Michigan
3 - Shakur Laney, Ohio
4 - Dack Punke, Missouri
5 - Kyle Akins, Buffalo
6 – Bryce West, Northern Illinois
7 - Jake Ferri, Kent State
8 – Gage Datlovsky, SIU Edwardsville
1 - John Erneste, Missouri
2 - Mario Guillen, Ohio
3 - Derek Spann, Buffalo
4 - Alijah Jeffery, Northern Illinois
5 - Tim Rooney, Kent State
6 - Trevor Majette, Old Dominion
7 - Devin Perez, Central Michigan
8 - Austin Macias, SIU Edwardsville
1 - Jaydin Eierman, Missouri
2 - Cameron Kelly, Ohio
3 - Bryan Lantry, Buffalo
4 - Sa'Derian Perry, Old Dominion
5 - Drew Marten, Central Michigan
6 - Drew West, Northern Illinois
7 - Cory Simpson, Kent State
8 - Lucas Bernal, SIU Edwardsville
1 - Brock Mauller, Missouri
2 - Kevin Budock, Old Dominion
3 - Alec Hagan, Ohio
4 - Tyshawn Williams, SIU Edwardsville
5 - McCoy Kent, Northern Illinois
6 - Kody Komora, Kent State
7 - Dresden Simon, Central Michigan
8 - Jason Estevez, Buffalo
1 - Larry Early, Old Dominion
2 - Jarrett Jacques, Missouri
3 - Zac Carson, Ohio
4 - Justin Ruffin, SIU Edwardsville
5 - Logan Parks, Central Michigan
6 - Alex Smythe, Buffalo
7 - Mason Kauffman, Northern Illinois
8 - Richard Jackson, Kent State
1 - Connor Flynn, Missouri
2 - Troy Keller, Buffalo
3 - Kenny Moore, Northern Illinois
4 - Colt Yinger, Ohio
5 - Isaac Bast, Kent State
6 - Nate Higgins, SIU Edwardsville
7 - Shane Jones, Old Dominion
8 - Bret Fedewa, Central Michigan
1 - Daniel Lewis, Missouri
2 - Brit Wilson, Northern Illinois
3 - Jake Lanning, Buffalo
4 - Collin Lieber, Central Michigan
5 - Kade Byland, Kent State
6 - Luke Drugac, Old Dominion
7 - Kevin Gschwendtner, SIU Edwardsville
8 - Logan Stanley, Ohio
1 - Dylan Wisman, Missouri
2 - Antonio Agee, Old Dominion
3 - Andrew McNally, Kent State
4 - Jordan Atienza, Central Michigan
5 - Will Feldkamp, Northern Illinois
6 - Sergio Villalobos, SIU Edwardsville
7 - Hunter Yeargan, Ohio
8 - Logan Rill, Buffalo
1 - Wyatt Koelling, Missouri
2 - Christian Dulaney, SIU Edwardsville
3 - Brett Perry, Buffalo
4 - Tim Young, Old Dominion
5 - Landon Pelham, Central Michigan
6 - Derek Hillman, Ohio
7 - Shane Mast, Kent State
8 - Max Ihry, Northern Illinois
1 - Matt Stencel, Central Michigan
2 - Zach Elam, Missouri
3 - Jake Gunning, Buffalo
4 - Will Hilliard, Old Dominion
5 - Caleb Gossett, Northern Illinois
6 - Colton McKiernan, SIU Edwardsville
7 - Spencer Berthold, Kent State
8 - Zack Parker, Ohio
Rebecca Gaona of ODU's sports information staff contributed to this story.
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