Central Michigan's national qualifier Corbyn Munson (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
Every year there are wrestlers that have "breakout" seasons. Whether it's wrestlers that are coming off a strong redshirt season, or young wrestlers who have a big jump from experience in the next season, it is always fun to see which athletes separate and improve from year to year In this article series, I am going to highlight a wrestler from every school in each of the seven different conferences that have the potential to breakout. That could mean anything from making a surprising splash at the national tournament, to qualifying for the first time, or even getting some important dual wins for a school. Next up are the thirteen schools that make up the MAC Conference.
Past Conference Breakout Candidates
Buffalo - #26 Jay Nivison, 174lbs (So)
Nivison already had a bit of a breakout after qualifying at 174lbs for Buffalo last season, but looks like he could have the potential to jump another level. He started the year at 165lbs and had a 5-4 record before bumping up to 174lbs and placed 2nd at the MAC tournament. That's despite wrestling a match down at 165lbs just two weeks before. If he is committed to 174lbs for the entire year, then he could be a much bigger factor.
Bloomsburg - Kevon Freeman, 165lbs (Jr)
A name that could be familiar to some, Freeman is a transfer to Bloomsburg from Ohio State. A three-time Ohio state champ, he was a top 100 recruit in 2018. Freeman has bounced around in weight with matches at 157lbs and 165lbs. He only has 12 college matches in his career with a 4-8 record. With his pedigree and a chance to establish himself in the lineup for the first time, he could be a contender this season for the Huskies.
Central Michigan - #26 Corbyn Munson, 157 (Jr)
After qualifying for his first NCAA's last season, CMU will be looking for Munson to take another jump and start getting bigger wins. Munson had multiple ranked wins last season, including matches against Manzona Bryant, Cory Crooks, and Shannon Hanna. He placed 3rd at the MAC conference and was the 25 seed at NCAA's. It was recently announced that he would be bumping up to 157lbs this year.
Clarion - Joseph Fischer, 125 (So)
After graduating as the #66 overall recruit in 2021, true freshman Fischer had a 23-11 record and made the MAC finals. While he did not get any significant wins, he had overtime losses to Anthony Noto of Lock Haven twice and tight losses to Dylan Shawver and Brandon Kaylor. He may not be able to turn all the close losses into wins, but more consistency and a handful of flipped results make him a name to watch.
Cleveland State - DeAndre Nassar, 184lbs (Jr)
A 2021 qualifier, Nassar came close to doing it again in 2022 but missed out on an at-large bid. He had an up-and-down season but had wins over multiple qualifiers. Nassar beat Max Lyon and Matthew Waddel in duals, who were both ranked at times throughout the season. Both of his losses at the MAC tournament came in sudden victory matches. Nassar tends to wrestle close matches, but will need some more quality wins and a higher conference finish this season to qualify again.
Edinboro - Luke Kemerer, 157lbs (Jr)
After spending four years at Pittsburgh at 149lbs, Luke Kemerer hit the transfer portal and is now at Edinboro up at 157lbs. In four years, he had a record of 29-29 and has only started occasional duals for the Panthers. Time will tell what he can do, but the possibility of a change of scenery and a new weight class could allow Kemerer to improve.
George-Mason - #31 Logan Messer, 174lbs (So)
Logan Messer was a true freshman starter for George Mason and had a very solid season, with a 27-9 record and 4th place finish at the MAC tournament. His biggest win was Thomas Flitz of App State, a three-time qualifier. Both of Messer's losses at the MAC tournament came to the earlier mentioned, Jay Nivison of Buffalo, a 4-3 decision and an overtime loss. If Messer develops like most true freshmen, he could find himself in Tulsa come March.
Kent State - #21 Kody Komara, 149lbs (Sr)
After qualifying in 2021 and 2022, Komara will be looking to make it three in a row and get his first NCAA tournament win. Komara had a strong MAC tournament, pinning Marcus Robinson in the finals to get his first MAC title. He also had a decision win over Corbyn Munson. Komara has had an inconsistent career, so far, but has shown the ability to win at the conference tournament.
Lock Haven - #20 Ashton Eyler, 157lbs (Jr)
Last year, Eyler qualified and made the MAC finals in his first year starting for Lock Haven. After wrestling at 174lbs at Iowa Central CC, he dropped to 165lbs and got a 31-11 record. It now sounds like he is planning on continuing his descent and starting at 157lbs. Eyler had multiple ranked wins including matches against Caleb Fish, Riley Smucker, and Joe Grello. If he can continue both his success and improvement, he could potentially find himself in the finals once again.
Northern Illinois - Blake West, 125lbs (Fr)
Blake West is coming off a great redshirt season with a 25-2 record. The #63 recruit of 2021 had a 67% bonus rate and will be looking to hit the ground running as a starter this season. He hasn't hit top competition yet, but with such a strong record and
bonus rate, he will be someone to keep an eye on.
Ohio - Kyran Hagan, 141lbs (Sr), #25 Alec Hagan, 149lbs (Sr)
Last year, Kyran Hagan started for the first time in his career and had bonus point wins over qualifiers Josh Mason of Bloomsburg and Gabe Willochell of Edinboro. He had an inconsistent season and finished 0-2 at the MAC tournament, but if he can put it together as a senior could find himself at nationals. Also, keep an eye on his twin Alec Hagan at 149lbs, who is also a senior. He was the 21 seed at the 2020 NCAA's, but missed 2021 due to injury and had a 26-8 record last season.
Rider - #30 George Walton, 184lbs (Sr)
Last year, Walton was on his way to a very solid season before getting injured. He had a dominant 12-5 win over two-time qualifier Bryan McLaughlin of Drexel, while winning the Keystone Classic tournament. If he is able to come back to this season on a similar level, he should find himself at the national tournament for the first time.
SIUE - #32 Saul Ervin, 141lbs (Jr)
A 2021 qualifier, Ervin is a wrestler that could go on a run in the season. He is a stingy wrestler and all his losses, save for one, were by a margin of three points or less. He's taken wrestlers like Dresden Simon, Ian Parker, and Allan Hart to overtime matches. If he can find more offense this season with his stellar defense, some of those close losses are sure to flip.