This weekend was an odd one for the MAC. There were a couple of key duals on Friday with nothing on Saturday and a quad taking center stage on Sunday. The upcoming weeks should have more MAC-action and fewer breaks.
Even so, there was plenty to be learned from the action that did take place. Among them, a huge individual matchup, the defending champions taking a loss, and a MAC dual nestled inside Sunday’s quad.
Though we didn’t get in-depth on the Northern Illinois/Cleveland State dual (28-15 NIU), the Huskies lightweights led the way with wins at the first five weights.
Ohio takes control at 157 lbs
In our “32 Key Matches to Watch the Weekend” article the lone MAC match highlighted was the 157 lb tilt between #17 Peyten Keller (Ohio) and #25 DJ McGee (George Mason). The dual itself featured a pair of MAC squads that may be overlooked and seemingly had the potential to be outside threats for a conference title.
The Bobcats made a statement early and often with wins in the first three matches. After a pin by George Mason’s Kaden Cassidy at 149 lbs, the stage was set for the big battle at 157 lbs. Kellar and McGee were scoreless through the first period. The OU star started the second period on the bottom and within the first minute earned a reversal after McGee was a little loose on his leg ride. Kellar proceeded to ride McGee for the remainder of the second stanza and generated enough riding time to earn a point. He would choose neutral in the final period and neither wrestler was able to score. Kellar’s win puts him in the driver’s seat in a strong MAC weight class that also features 2023 champion Johnny Lovett (Central Michigan). At the Midlands, McGee edged Lovett, 3-2.
The second half of the dual played out similar to the first with Ohio sweeping the remaining bouts. At 165 and 174 lbs, the Bobcats won a pair of two-point bouts, which preceded a 15-0 tech fall from Zayne Lehman at 184 lbs. Lehman’s victim, Malachi Duvall, was named the conference’s wrestler of the week for the previous week’s worth of action.
Ohio closed the dual with a slight upset at 285 lbs as Jordan Greer defeated the previously ranked Chad Nix, 4-2. When the smoke cleared, it was a 29-6 win for Ohio and they took nine of ten bouts from the Patriots. Joel Greenlee’s team earned their first MAC win of the season and now move to 5-3 overall. That surpasses the win total from the 2022-23 squad with about a month’s worth of action still ahead.
This week Ohio will travel to take on in-state rival Cleveland State. George Mason is also on the road as they’ll head up to Pennsylvania to face Lock Haven and Bloomsburg.
With apologies to our football fans in Western New York, the best performance from a Buffalo team over the past three days belonged to the men on the mat Friday night. John Stutzman’s Bulls traveled to two-time defending MAC champion Lock Haven’s gym and came away with a rather surprisingly lopsided victory, 23-12.
Lock Haven flexed their muscles in the early going with wins in three of the first four matches resulting in a 12-4 lead. That’s all the Bald Eagles could muster as Buffalo swept the final six weight classes.
The 174 lb bout featured a pair of past national qualifiers clashing and it was Buffalo’s Jay Nivison who got his hand raised after the hard-fought 3-2 victory. A match earlier, Hunter Shaut got by Eric Alderfer 7-4 in sudden victory.
Buffalo’s big men proved to be two of their highest-scoring team members on the night. Sam Mitchell cruised to a 15-3 major decision at 197 lbs, while Magnus Bibla racked up 11 points on Ethan Miller to finalize the 23-12 win.
The win was the third for Buffalo in the MAC this year and the eighth overall. Buffalo will be off next weekend, while Lock Haven has a busy week that includes duals with George Mason, Rider, and the Mat-Town Open.
Clarion Goes 3-0
The notable event for the conference on Sunday was the quad at Clarion. The hosts went a perfect 3-0 on the day downing Kent State, Long Island, and Morgan State. Of the 30 matches contested between those three duals, Clarion was victorious in 25 of those.
While there were many standouts for Clarion, Alejandro Herrera-Rondon was the only Golden Eagle wrestler to amass bonus points in all three of his matches. Herrera-Rondon ran the gambit on bonus point wins with a major decision, a tech, and a fall. His three wins brought his season record up to 15-6.
The most important of the three wins for Keith Ferraro’s squad was the 24-10 victory against MAC opponent Kent State. His team now moves to 3-1 in the conference.
The Golden Flashes saw Pablo Castro (133), Aaron Ferguson (165), and Blake Schaffer (197) grab wins against Clarion. Schaffer did so via major decision and improved to 19-7 on the year.
It’ll be nothing but conference duals from here on out for Clarion. Next week’s challenger is Edinboro, who is looking to bounce back after a 44-0 loss against one of the league’s favorites, Central Michigan.
Kent State has the week off before traveling back to Pennsylvania for a dual with Bloomsburg on February 3rd.