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MAC Preview: Seven wrestlers will attempt to repeat as conference champions with NCAA berths on the line

by Mike Willis, USA Wrestling

Feature photo of Matt Stencel, who will attempt to win his fourth MAC title, courtesy of Tony Rotundo/Wrestlers are Warriors.

The Mid-American Conference (MAC) Wrestling Championships kick off tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. EST at the Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton, N.J. While there will be no fans in attendance this year due to COVID-19, the tournament will be streamed live. Below, let’s take a look at each weight class and the contenders.

125 pounds
2020 champion – Drew Hildebrandt (Central Michigan)
NCAA Berths Available: 4

Wrestlers ranked in the D1 coaches rankings
: No. 2 Drew Hildebrandt (Central Michigan), No. 19 Connor Brown (Missouri), No. 23 Jake Ferri (Kent State)

No. 2 ranked Drew Hildebrandt of Central Michigan will look to repeat as the MAC champion at 125 pounds. Hildebrandt was also a 2019 MAC finalist. He is undefeated on the season, sporting a 7-0 record. Missouri’s Connor Brown, the No. 2 seed, had a tight 7-5 sudden victory match with Brown earlier this year and will be looking to exact revenge. Nationally ranked Jake Ferri of Kent State and 2020 NCAA qualifier Luke Werner of Lock Haven, who has not wrestled a match yet this year, will also be in the hunt.

133 pounds
2020 champion – Tim Rooney (Kent State)
NCAA Berths Available: 5

Wrestlers ranked in the D1 coaches rankings
: No. 8 Matt Schmitt (Missouri), No. 27 Drew Marten (Central Michigan), No. 29 Mario Guillen (Ohio)

Missouri’s Matt Schmitt, a West Virginia transfer, will look to bring home his first MAC title. Others to watch for in the bracket include 2020 NCAA Drew Marten of Central Michigan and 2019 NCAA qualifier Mario Guillen of Ohio.

141 pounds
2020 champion – Dresden Simon (Central Michigan)
NCAA Berths Available: 4
Wrestlers ranked in the D1 coaches rankings: No. 4 Allan Hart (Missouri), No. 11 Dresden Simon (Central  Michigan), No. 18 Saul Ervin (SIUE), No. 21 Derek Spann (Buffalo)

Last year’s runner-up at 133 Allan Hart of Missouri, comes in as the No. 1 seed at 141 pounds. Hart is 9-0 on the year including a 4-1 victory over No. 2 seed Dresden Simon of Central Michigan. Simon will look to repeat as the MAC champion. Others to watch in the bracket are nationally ranked Saul Ervin of Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Derek Spann of Buffalo.

149 pounds
2020 champion – Brock Mauller (Missouri)
NCAA Berths Available: 4
Wrestlers ranked in the D1 coaches rankings: No. 3 Brock Mauller (Missouri)

2019 NCAA All-American and 2020 NWCA First-Team All-American Brock Mauller of Missouri is the man to beat at 149 pounds as he shoots for his third-straight MAC title. While none of the other wrestlers in the bracket appear in the coaches rankings, the MAC has four NCAA berths available at this weight class, meaning this is a prime opportunity for some under the radar wrestlers to make a big impact.

157 pounds
2020 champion - Jesse Dellavecchia (Rider)
NCAA Berths Available: 4
Wrestlers ranked in the D1 coaches rankings: No. 3 Jesse Dellavecchia (Rider), No. 8 Jarret Jacques (Missouri), No. 16 Justin Ruffin (SIUE), No. 31 Jordan Slivka (Ohio), No. 32 Alex Carida (Bloomsburg) No. 33 Johnny Lovett (Central Michigan)

Rider’s Jesse Dellavecchia will look to repeat as MAC champion at 157 pounds in a weight class with five other nationally ranked wrestlers. Dellavecchia was a First-Team NWCA All-American last season. Two-time NCAA qualifiers Jarret Jacques of Missouri and Justin Ruffin of SIUE earned the second and third seeds respectively. Jacques is a 2019 MAC champion and finished runner-up to Dellavecchia in 2020. With only four NCAA berths available, this weight class will be a meat grinder, with Ohio’s Jordan Slivka, Bloomsburg’s Alex Carida and Central Michigan’s Johnny Lovett all looking to punch their tickets as well.

165 pounds
2020 champion – Troy Keller (Buffalo)
NCAA Berths Available: 2
Wrestlers ranked in the D1 coaches rankings: No. 13 Keegan O’Toole (Missouri),  No. 20 Izzak Olejnik (Northern Illinois), No. 30 Colt Yinger (Ohio)

Missouri’s true freshman Keegan O’Toole will look to keep his perfect season going and claim his first MAC title. 2020 NCAA qualifier Izzak Olejnik of Northern Illinois earned the second seed while 2019 MAC finalist Colt Yinger of Ohio is seeded third.

174 pounds
2020 champion - Jared Siegrist (Lock Haven)
NCAA Berths Available: 3
Wrestlers ranked in the D1 coaches rankings: No. 9 Peyton Mocco (Missouri), No. 12 Andrew McNally (Kent State), No. 18 Jacob Oliver (Edinboro), No. 21 Mason Kauffman (Northern Illinois), No. 33 Angel Garcia (Rider)

174 will be another brutal weight class with five ranked wrestlers competing for three NCAA berths. Kent State’s Andrew McNally, a two-time NCAA qualifier, earned the No. 1 seed. McNally finished runner-up at the past two MAC Championships. Peyton Mocco, a 2020 NCAA qualifier for Missouri at 165 pounds, is seeded second. Sixth seeded Jacob Oliver, a two-time NCAA qualifier for Edinboro should be in the mix, as well as No. 3 seed Mason Kauffman of Northern Illinois and No. 4 seed Angel Garcia, a true freshman for Rider.

184 pounds
2020 champion – Brit Wilson (Northern Illinois)
NCAA Berths Available: 3
Wrestlers ranked in the D1 coaches rankings: No. 10 Jeremiah Kent Missouri, No. 14 Brit Wilson (Northern Illinois), No. 27 George Walton (Rider), No. 33  Deandre Nassar (Cleveland State)

Missouri’s redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Kent earned the No. 1 seed after completing a perfect 7-0 regular season. He will face stiff competition in the form of Northern Illinois’s Brit Wilson, a two-time NCAA qualifier. Wilson, who is 10-1 this season, is the returning MAC champion and a 2019 MAC runner-up. Nationally ranked George Walton of Rider and Deandre Nassar of Cleveland State will also be battling for an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.

197 pounds
2020 champion – Greg Bulsak (Clarion)
NCAA Berths Available: 3
Wrestlers ranked in the D1 coaches rankings: No. 8 Greg Bulsak (Clarion), No. 14 Rocky Elam (Missouri), No. 26 Landon Pelham (Central Michigan), No. 28 Gage Braun (Northern Illinois)

2020 NWCA Second-Team All-American Greg Bulsak of Clarion will attempt to defend his MAC title at 197 pounds. Bulsak is a three-time NCAA qualifier. Rocky Elam, an undefeated freshman for Missouri, earned the No. 2 seed and will attempt to qualify for his first NCAA Tournament. Other wrestlers to keep your eyes on are No. 5 seed Landon Pelham of Central Michigan and No. 8 seed Gage Braun of Northern Illinois. Both are nationally ranked 2020 NCAA qualifiers.

285 pounds
2020 champion – Matt Stencel (Central Michigan)
NCAA Berths Available: 3
Wrestlers ranked in the D1 coaches rankings: No. 4 Matt Stencel (Central Michigan), No. 9 Ethan Laird (Rider), No. 12 Zach Elam (Missouri), No. 23 Sam Schuyler (Buffalo), No. 26 Jon Spaulding (Edinboro), No. 30 Colton McKiernan (SIUE), No. 32 Max Ihry (Northern Illinois)

Heavyweight is the deepest weight class in the entire tournament, with seven nationally ranked wrestlers vying for three automatic qualifier spots. The clear favorite is Central Michigan’s Matt Stencel, who will attempt to become a four-time MAC Champion. Stencel is a 2019 NCAA All-American and a 2020 NWCA First-Team All-American. Rider’s Ethan Laird earned the No. 2 seed with an undefeated, 6-0, record. Laird is a two-time NCAA qualifier and 2020 NWCA Honorable Mention All-American at 197 pounds. Other previous NCAA qualifiers in the bracket include, Missouri’s Zach Elam, Buffalo’s Sam Schuyler, Edinboro’s Jon Spaulding, SIUE’s Colton McKiernan and Northern Illinois’s Max Ihry.

2021 Mac Championships Pre-seeds

125 pounds

1. Drew Hildebrandt, Central Michigan, Senior

2. Connor Brown, Missouri, Junior

3. Jake Ferri, Kent State, Junior

4. Luke Werner, Lock Haven, Senior

5. Jonathon Tropea, Rider, Senior

6. Josh Jones, George Mason, Sophomore

7. Lucas Rodriguez, Edinboro, Junior

8. Tristan Daugherty, Buffalo, Freshman

133 pounds

1. Matthew Schmitt, Missouri, Junior

2. Brendon Fenton, Kent State, Sophomore

3. Drew Marten, Central Michigan, Junior

4. Tye Varndell, Edinboro, Sophomore

5. Mario Guillen, Ohio, Senior

6. Bryce West, Northern Illinois, Junior

7. Justin Patrick, Cleveland State, Senior

8. Aaron Schulist, SIUE, Sophomore


1. Allan Hart, Missouri, Junior

2. Dresden Simon, Central Michigan, Senior

3. Saul Ervin, SIUE, Sophomore

4. Derek Spann, Buffalo, Senior

5. McKenzie Bell, Rider, Freshman

6. Caleb Brooks, Northern Illinois, Sophomore

7. Kyle Schickel, Clarion, Freshman

8. Josh Mason Bloomsburg, Sophomore


1. Brock Mauller, Missouri, Junior

2. Anthony Cheloni, Northern Illinois, Junior

3. Tyler Vath, Edinboro, Senior

4. Kody Komara, Kent State, Junior

5. Ben Freeman, Buffalo, Junior

6. Marcus Robinson, Cleveland State, Sophomore

7. Corbyn Munson, Central Michigan, Sophomore

8. Seth Koleno, Clarion, Junior


1. Jesse Dellavecchia, Rider, Senior

2. Jarrett Jacques, Missouri, Junior

3. Justin Ruffin, SIUE, Junior

4. Alex Carida, Bloomsburg, Junior

5. Jordan Slivka, Ohio, Freshman

6. Johnny Lovett, Central Michigan, Freshman

7. Anthony Gibson, Northern Illinois, Sophomore

8. Michael Petite, Buffalo, Sophomore


1. Keegan O'Toole, Missouri, Freshman

2. Izzak Olejnik, Northern Illinois, Sophomore

3. Colt Yinger, Ohio, Sophomore

4. Jake Silverstein, Rider, Sophomore

5. Alex Cramer, Central Michigan, Sophomore

6. Riley Smucker, Cleveland State, Sophomore

7. Kolby Ho, Clarion, Junior

8. Cornelius Schuster, George Mason, Junior


1. Andrew McNally, Kent State, Senior

2. Peyton Mocco, Missouri, Sophomore

3. Mason Kauffman, Northern Illinois, Junior

4. Angel Garcia, Rider, Freshman

5. Paul Pierce, George Mason, Junior

6. Jacob Oliver, Edinboro, Junior

7. Anthony Rice, Cleveland State, Freshman

8. Austin Bell, Lock Haven, Senior


1. Brit Wilson, Northern Illinois, Junior

2. Jeremiah Kent, Missouri, Sophomore

3. George Walton, Rider, Junior

4. Deandre Nassar, Cleveland State, Sophomore

5. Max Wohlabaugh, Clarion, Senior

6. Kyle Davis, George Mason, Junior

7. Tyler Bates, Kent State, Sophomore

8. Ryan Yarnell, SIUE, Junior


1. Greg Bulsak, Clarion, Senior

2. Rocky Elam, Missouri, Freshman

3. Colin McCracken, Kent State, Junior

4. Ben Smith, Cleveland State, Junior

5. Landon Pelham, Central Michigan, Senior

6. Austin Stith, George Mason, Sophomore

7. Cody Mulligan, Edinboro, Sophomore

8. Gage Braun, Northern Illinois, Sophomore


1. Matt Stencel, Central Michigan, Senior

2. Ethan Laird, Rider, Senior

3. Zach Elam, Missouri, Sophomore

4. Sam Schuyler, Buffalo, Junior

5. Jon Spaulding, Edinboro, Senior

6. Colton McKiernan, SIUE, Junior

7. Max Ihry, Northern Illinois, Senior

8. Tyler Bagoly, Clarion, Junior

Complete 2020 MAC Championships results