COLUMBIA, MO. – Mizzou Wrestling will once again begin the season ranked atop the Mid-American Conference, as the league announced its 2017 MAC Preseason Poll Tuesday. In addition to being ranked first in the preseason poll for the fourth consecutive season, Mizzou ranked nine wrestlers among the top-four at their respective weight classes in the individual rankings.
Last year, Mizzou captured its fifth consecutive MAC title and sixth straight conference title overall by setting the MAC record for points with 154.5. Mizzou set a program-record with six individual conference champions, and went on to finish fifth at the NCAA Championships, its seventh NCAA top-10 finish under head coach Brian Smith, who earned 2017 NWCA Coach of the Year honors for his team’s performance.
Under the current poll, Mizzou received 29.0 points, and was selected ahead of Central Michigan (18.0 points) and Buffalo (16.0 points). Coming in fourth was Ohio (10.0 points), followed by Eastern Michigan (9.0 points), Kent State (7.0 points), Northern Illinois (6.0 points) and Old Dominion (5.0 points).
Five Tigers; redshirt junior 133-pounder John Erneste (Kansas City, Mo.), redshirt sophomore 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman (Columbia, Mo.), redshirt senior 157-pounder Joey Lavallee (Reno, Nev.), redshirt junior 174-pounder Daniel Lewis (Blue Springs, Mo.) and redshirt senior 197-pounder Willie Miklus (Altoona, Iowa) ranked atop their respective weight classes. Last year, Eierman, Lavallee and Lewis all earned All-America honors and won conference titles, while Erneste captured a conference title and fell just short of reaching the All-America podium. Miklus, a two-time All-American returns from missing a majority of last season with a knee injury, and will be up a weight class from his two podium finishes.
Redshirt sophomore 165-pounder Connor Flynn (Dardenne Prairie, Mo.), who has yet to make his official debut as a Tiger, ranked second in his weight class after a sensational redshirt season where he posted a 24-4 record with 12 wins by bonus points. Flynn redshirt last year after spending his true-freshman season (2015-16) at West Virginia where he finished fourth at the Big 12 Championships.
Redshirt senior 125-pounder Barlow McGhee (Rock Island, Ill.), redshirt junior 149-pounder Grant Leeth (Kearney, Mo.) and redshirt sophomore heavyweight Austin Myers (Alexandria, Ky.) all ranked third in their respective weight classes. McGhee and Myers both made qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2016-17, while Leeth will be looking to make his first impact as an attached wrestler since 2014-15 when he was a true-freshman at Duke.
Mizzou opens its season on November 4, hosting rival Illinois inside the Mizzou Softball Stadium for the first outdoor dual in program history.