MAC to the future: Young Missouri team wins ninth straight conference championship

The Tigers defeated an in-conference opponent for the 22nd consecutive time.

Missouri wrestling capped off another dominant season of in-conference duals with a 35-7 blowout victory over Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, clinching an undefeated season in the Mid-American Conference and another MAC championship.

This was the Tigers’ ninth consecutive conference championship, a streak that stretches back to their days in the Big 12. Coach Brian Smith’s team has spent eight years in the MAC and has won the regular-season championship eight times.

The Tigers have had no trouble dispatching their in-conference competition, even after the losses of 2019 Daniel Lewis and Jaydin Eierman, who took an Olympic redshirt and transferred to Iowa. They have won 22 consecutive in-conference duals, a streak that dates back to a 2017 loss to Northern Iowa.

Northern Iowa is no longer in the MAC, so Missouri has never lost to a current MAC team in its short time in the conference.

That streak is not likely to end anytime soon, as the Tigers are led by a host of young grapplers. Chief among those young grapplers are true sophomores No. 5 Brock Mauller and No. 16 Jarrett Jacques, who have taken over as the faces of Missouri’s program.

Mauller’s double-leg takedown has moved from dominant to completely unstoppable, and his reputation as a scrambler is among the best in the country. Jacques has been excellent in his own right, becoming known as a bulldog on the mat and stockpiling wins throughout the season even when he might not have had his best moves.

Two others from Missouri’s recruiting class of 2018, redshirt freshmen Peyton Mocco and Jeremiah Kent have taken on large roles as the season has progressed.

Outside the conference, Missouri hasn’t enjoyed the same success. They have yet to beat a team ranked in the NWCA Top-25 in seven tries and are much less well-regarded nationally than last year’s team. The 2020 edition is ranked No. 24, while last year’s Tigers finished at No. 5.

However, the Tigers should return all but one of their regular starters — the one exception being redshirt senior Dylan Wisman, whose eligibility runs out in March — and should easily dominate their way to an undefeated conference championship season once again.

Edited by Eli Hoff | ehoff@themaneater.com

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