MAC Announces Historic Wrestling Expansion
March 05, 2019

 



Cleveland, Ohio – The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced today a historic membership expansion in the sport of wrestling as the MAC has added seven new affiliate members – Bloomsburg, Clarion, Edinboro, Lock Haven, Rider, George Mason and Cleveland State – to begin competing in the MAC with the 2019-20 wrestling season.

The addition of seven new affiliate members increases MAC wrestling membership to 15 total members. Bloomsburg, Clarion, Edinboro, Lock Haven, Rider, George Mason and Cleveland State all have joined the MAC from the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) making the MAC the second largest NCAA Division I Wrestling conference.

MAC wrestling membership includes Buffalo, Central Michigan, Kent State, Northern Illinois and Ohio, along with current affiliate members Missouri (since 2013), Old Dominion (since 2013) and SIU Edwardsville (since 2018). The eight current MAC members will compete in the 2019 MAC Wrestling Championship on March 8-9 in Norfolk, Va. on the campus of Old Dominion University. Next season the 15 MAC wrestling programs will compete in the 2020 MAC Wrestling Championship on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.

This addition to wrestling membership enhances the MAC’s stature as one of the leading Division I Wrestling Conferences in the nation with legendary collegiate wrestling programs and solidifies membership and future growth in the sport of wrestling. This addition will also provide the MAC footprint across the Midwest towards the East Coast.

“I am pleased to welcome our new additions to the Mid-American Conference that have strong traditions in the sport of wrestling. Our membership spent significant time discussing and studying the possible inclusion of these new members and we believe this will strengthen what has already grown into an elite wrestling league,” said Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher, Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference. “This addition of affiliate members is good for the Mid-American Conference, and good for collegiate wrestling. It broadens our footprint across a part of the country where youth, high school, and collegiate wrestling is very strong. I look forward to the 2019-20 season when our new and enhanced membership begins competition.”

The Missouri Tigers, who are currently ranked No. 5 in the nation, are currently 16-1 overall this season, 7-0 in the MAC. The Tigers are current six-time defending MAC wrestling champions and have won the MAC Wrestling Championship six consecutive years since joining the MAC in 2013.

MAC wrestling history features 12 MAC wrestlers as NCAA National Champions, as the MAC has witnessed five individual NCAA Champions in the last eight years – including Kent State's Dustin Kilgore in 2011 (197 weight class), Missouri’s J’Den Cox in 2014, 2016 and 2017 (197 weight class), the MAC’s first-ever three-time NCAA Champion, and Missouri's Drake Houdashelt in 2015 (149 weight class).

Last week, the MAC was allocated 27 qualifiers for the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championships coming March 21-23 in Pittsburgh. The NCAA will announce the 330 qualifiers for the Division I Wrestling Championships on Tuesday, March 12.

During the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, the MAC was represented with 34 wrestlers. Annually, the MAC is a consistent leader in Division I Wrestling in sending wrestlers to the NCAA Wrestling Championships – 2017 – 45 wrestlers - 3rd most in NCAA; 2016 – 45 wrestlers – 3rd most in NCAA; 2015 – 38 wrestlers – 3rd most in NCAA.

Also, in 2018 the MAC hosted for the first time in Conference history the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland and set the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships total attendance record with 113,743 over the three-day, six-session, tournament and the single-session wrestling attendance record of 19,776 during Saturday’s Finals session on March 17, 2018.

Bloomsburg Huskies:
The Bloomsburg University wrestling program has amassed 610 victories since the program’s inception in 1936 and has collected 13 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships and two Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) titles – 1981 and 1993. All told, the Huskies have posted 52 seasons with a .500 record or better of the 67 years the school has had a program.

The Huskies are under the direction of head coach Marcus Gordon, who is currently in his third season at the helm of the program. He is 13-35 as Bloomsburg’s head coach but has seen steady improvement in each of his three years guiding the program. Last season, Bloomsburg finished fifth at the EWL tournament after three consecutive seventh-place finishes at the event.

Bloomsburg has had at least one NCAA qualifier in 42 of 49 years dating back to the 1969-70 season including two individual NCAA champions (four total) – Floyd “Shorty” Hitchcock in 1974 and Ricky Bonomo in 1985, 1986 and 1987 – and 23 NCAA Division I All-Americans. Bloomsburg also had 12 NAIA National Champions from 1960 to 1971 and has had 18 wrestlers finish with a least 100 victories. The Huskies, however, will be looking to get their first qualifier(s) since getting six in the 2013-14 season.

Quote from Bloomsburg, Director of Athletics, Dr. Michael McFarland:
“Bloomsburg University is honored by the invitation to join the Mid-American Conference for our Division I wrestling program,” said Dr. McFarland. “It is important to preserve our historic rivalries with the EWL opponents and create new rivalries and expand our competition with MAC institutions as we enter this agreement. This new conference alignment supports Division I wrestling and the opportunities for our student-athletes will be expanded.”

Quote from Bloomsburg, Head Coach, Marcus Gordon:
“We are extremely excited to be joining the MAC,” said Gordon. “Our overall schedule won’t change a lot based on the league being setup in divisions but, with the tradition and the prestige of the MAC, this opportunity will help continue to build our wrestling program and keep us moving forward. It is a tremendous move, not only for Bloomsburg University, but for Division I wrestling as a whole.”

Clarion Golden Eagles:
Clarion’s wrestling history dates back to a short stint from 1939-1943, when it along with other men’s athletic programs went on a brief hiatus during World War II. Wrestling was revived in 1959 under head coach Frank Lignelli, marking the true beginning of what turned into a legendary Golden Eagle program.

Head coach Keith Ferraro is in his fifth season as Clarion’s head coach and has steadily rebuilt the program to national recognition. After sending no wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in his first season, Clarion has qualified eight wrestlers in the last three, including three-time NCAA qualifier Brock Zacherl. In 2017-18, the Golden Eagles notched their first winning dual season in 15 years with a 10-7 record.

The Golden Eagles have produced eight national champions in their history, including two members of the NCAA’s 75th Anniversary Team in 2005, Wade Schalles and Kurt Angle. Clarion became known as “The Little Giants of Wrestling” in the early 1970’s when the Golden Eagles won five national championships from 1972-73, including Garry Barton’s unseeded-to-championship run in 1972, true freshman Don Rohn’s title in 1973, and back-to-back wins by Schalles. Longtime head coach and 2005 National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee Bob Bubb coached the team to a 322-121-4 record from 1967-92.

Quote from Clarion, Director of Athletics, Dr. Wendy Snodgrass:
“Clarion University is very much looking forward to competing in the Mid-American Conference as an affiliate member. The opportunity to join a highly competitive conference enables our wrestling program to continue to compete at the highest level and elevates our entire institution. We are excited honor the rich history of our program with this next chapter,” said Snodgrass.

Quote from Clarion, Head Coach, Keith Ferraro:
“Joining the Mid-American Conference is a great opportunity for our wrestling program. We have valued our time in the Eastern Wrestling League and we are proud of the tradition that we leave behind,” said Ferraro. “We look forward to the competitive rigor of the MAC. This change brings about great opportunities for our program to establish new traditions and to build new rivalries. We look forward to these changes and feel honored to have the responsibility of helping to enrich the MAC for the years to come.”

Edinboro Fighting Scots:
Edinboro wrestling debuted on the Division I level in 1986, joining the Eastern Wrestling League in 1988-89. Since that time, the Fighting Scots have enjoyed a rich tradition of excellence under head coaches Mike DeAnna, Bruce Baumgartner, Tim Flynn, and now Matt Hill. In the last 21 years, Edinboro won 15 EWL championships and came in second on four other occasions. That included a string of eight straight team titles, and 12 in a span of 13 years.

Edinboro wrestling has had four Division I national champions – Sean O‘Day (1989 – 134 lbs.), Josh Koscheck (2001 – 174 lbs.), Gregor Gillespie (2007 – 149 lbs.), and Jarrod King (2009 – 165 lbs.). The Fighting Scots have celebrated 59 Division I All-Americans.

Since 1987, Edinboro has had nine top-10 finishes at the NCAA Division I National Championships, highlighted by a third place showing in 2015 as Mitchell Port and Dave Habat reached the national championship match at 141 and 149 lbs., respectively, and A.J. Schopp (133 lbs.) and Vic Avery (165 lbs.) placed third.

Current head coach Matt Hill is a former Edinboro standout under Flynn. He took over the program in May 2019 and is no stranger to the Mid-American Conference, serving as an assistant coach for 11 seasons at Kent State. He was a three-time national qualifier at Edinboro and ranks among the career leaders with 105 wins.

Quote from Edinboro, Director of Athletics, Dr. Katherine Robbins:
“For over 30 years the Eastern Wrestling League has afforded Edinboro the opportunity to enjoy great success in Division one wrestling,” said Robbins. “The EWL experienced significant change and now will join forces with the Mid-American Conference. That allows us to maintain our rivalries with current EWL schools, while at the same time branching out to face some of the best competition Division I wrestling has to offer. This is an exciting day for Edinboro wrestling and will lay the foundation for a bright future for our coaches and team.”

Quote from Edinboro, Head Coach, Matt Hill:
“After spending 11 years coaching at Kent State University in the Mid-American Conference I feel like it’s a smart and strategic move for the EWL to join the MAC next season,” said Hill. “Being in the MAC will allow us to wrestle the toughest competition in the country weekly and give our wrestlers more opportunities to make the NCAA Championships at our conference tournament each year. I’m excited for the challenge and look forward to wrestling these bigger schools. The bar will be set high and we welcome this exciting opportunity.”

Lock Haven Bald Eagles:
The Lock Haven University wrestling team is coming off a historic 2017-18 season. The Bald Eagles finished the season with a 16thplace finish at the 2018 NCAA Championships in Cleveland. The 16th place finish at the NCAA’s marked the highest finish for Lock Haven since the Bald Eagles placed 19th the national tournament in 2002.

Ronnie Perry capped his career with a remarkable run into the 149-pound national finals. Perry became the first 15-seed in NCAA tournament history to make the finals at any weight class. Perry was one of two All-Americans for The Haven. Chance Marsteller capped a sensational season with a fourth-place finish at 165 pounds, earning All-American status. Prior to the 2018 NCAA championships, Dan Neff was the Bald Eagles last All-American in 2015. It marked the first time since 1988 that Lock Haven had two wrestlers place among the top-four.

Lock Haven crowned three individual champions and nine Bald Eagles placed as Lock Haven powered its way to the 2018 EWL team title. It marked the second EWL championship in school history and the first since the Bald Eagles won the title in 1997.

Lock Haven is located in Lock Haven, Pa., better known as Mat-Town U.S.A. Lock Haven is home to nine individual NCAA Division I champions and 41 Division I All-Americans.

Quote from Lock Haven, Director of Athletics, Dr. Tom Gioglio:
“Expanding with the MAC is a logical step that creates a tremendous amount of opportunities for Lock Haven University,” said Gioglio. “Besides the stability of competing in a Conference that would now be the second largest in NCAA Division I and a Conference that sends the second highest volume of national qualifiers to the NCAA Championships, the expansion will provide several creative opportunities to market, promote and enhance LHU’s wrestling brand, which will be very beneficial at The Haven in many areas.”

Quote from Lock Haven, Head Coach, Scott Moore:
“We are excited to join the MAC and continue our strong tradition in this growing conference,” said Moore. “The expansion will allow for increased exposure and a new standard of excellence within our program. With growth comes challenges and adversity, but we understand the long-term vision of the expansion and look forward to the opportunity. The EWL has a rich history and we will continue to remember its wrestlers and coaches who represented us on the national stage.”

Rider Broncs:
Rider has produced 17 All-Americans in wrestling over the last 40 years. Three of its All-Americans remain in the program as Head Coach John Hangey and Assistant Coaches Ryan Wolfe and Chad Walsh each earned All-America honors wrestling for the legendary Gary Taylor, who retired as the third-winningest coach in NCAA Division I history with 442 dual wins. The Broncs have won 14 conference titles across their time in the Eastern Wrestling League (2013-19), Colonial Athletic Association (2001-13), East Coast Wrestling Association (1974-2001) and Middle Athletic Conference (1969-74).

Quote from Rider, Director of Athletics, Don Harnum:
“The expansion with the Mid-American Conference in wrestling is a great opportunity for us to continue to raise our wrestling profile by strengthening our conference affiliation,” said Harnum. “I am confident this is a positive move for Rider, the EWL member institutions, the MAC, and for the sport of wrestling.”

Quote from Rider, Head Coach, John Hangey:
“We are excited about the opportunity to become affiliated with the MAC and their member institutions,” said Hangey. “We see it as a great opportunity to elevate the wrestling program at Rider University and gain valuable national exposure for our current and future student-athletes. I truly appreciate the vision and continued support for our program from President Dell'Omo and Athletic Director Don Harnum. We look forward to the new challenges that our program will face as the MAC is a very competitive conference.”

George Mason Patriots:
Under second-year head coach Frank Beasley, the Patriots finished the season with an overall record of 9-7, posting at least a .500 record for the first time in 11 years. Mason went 3-3 against Eastern Wrestling League opponents, equaling the most wins against conference foes since joining the league in 2013-14.

Redshirt senior captain Matthew Voss (28-5, 13-2 dual) finished the season with a career-high 28 victories at 285 pounds. A 2018 NCAA qualifier, Voss went 6-0 in EWL duals during the 2018-19 season. Redshirt senior captain Tejon Anthony (27-9, 12-4 dual) recorded a career-high 27 wins. Redshirt junior Colston DiBlasi (27-9, 11-2 dual) tied for second on the team in wins in his first season with the Patriots. He ranked among the leaders in the nation in pins.

George Mason had three NCAA qualifiers last season. Ibrahim Bunduka (125 lbs.), Anthony (141 lbs.) and Voss (285) competed in the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships.

Quote from George Mason, Director of Athletics, Brad Edwards:
“We are excited to have George Mason wrestling affiliated with the Mid-American Conference,” said Edwards. “Our wrestling program will benefit greatly by being associated with this nationally-recognized wrestling conference. We look forward to the opportunity to renew old rivalries and create new institutional relationships.”

Quote from George Mason, Head Coach, Frank Beasley:
“We are very excited to join the MAC. This will raise the level of competition and competitiveness for our league. We are now part of a power conference which is important in the current landscape of collegiate wrestling. This is an important step for our program and the other programs in the EWL,” said Beasley. “We are excited to develop new rivalries as we expand the conference. There are a lot of high-quality coaches and teams in the conference and we are looking forward to the new challenge.”

Cleveland State Vikings:
Cleveland State has embarked on a new era in 2018-19 with Josh Moore making his collegiate head coaching debut. Moore, a two-time All-American who competed collegiately at Penn State, brought 14 years of Division I coaching experience to CSU upon taking over the top spot last spring.

Cleveland State began wrestling in 1931-32, but the program went dormant after three years. Wrestling returned to Cleveland State in 1962-63 with Moore being the program’s fourth head coach in that time frame. Cleveland State joined the Eastern Wrestling League in 1977 and had been a member of the league ever since.

Cleveland State is no stranger to competing against MAC schools as the Vikings have faced at least three MAC programs in dual action in each of the past three seasons.

Quote from Cleveland State, Head Coach, Josh Moore:
“Joining the MAC will be very beneficial to the Cleveland State University wrestling program and our mission to compete with the nation’s best,” said Moore. “MAC wrestling teams have proven to be successful on the national level, and we are not only excited to join those programs but to have the opportunity to compete with them year after year.”

Quotes from current MAC Head Wrestling Coaches:

John Stutzman, Head Coach, Buffalo:
“I am excited to add the seven EWL schools to our conference,” said Stutzman. “Traditionally these programs have produced some of our sports best wrestlers and I look forward to competing with them in the coming years.”

Tom Borrelli, Head Coach, Central Michigan:
“This is an exciting development for MAC wrestling. It is an opportunity for the Mid-American Conference to expand its footprint nationally and gain strength through increased numbers,” said Borrelli. “Moving forward this expanded conference should create even better competition for our wrestlers and all the wrestling programs.”

Jim Andrassy, Head Coach, Kent State:
“With the addition of the EWL to the MAC, this will make this one of the premier wrestling conferences in the country and I'm excited for the future of the college wrestling,” said Andrassy.

Brian Smith, Head Coach, Missouri:
“Obviously we are thrilled that the MAC is continuing to invest in our great sport, and the addition of these seven teams only strengthens the MAC’s long-term viability across the national landscape of collegiate wrestling,” said Smith. “With the addition of seven teams to our great league, the MAC is now the nation’s second-largest wrestling conference, giving the league a greater chance to shine on our sport’s largest stage at the NCAA Championships. Our goal every year is to win the MAC regular season and tournament titles, and we look forward to the new challenge that this addition presents to our program.”

Ryan Ludwig, Head Coach, Northern Illinois:
“The addition of EWL schools to the already strong Mid-American Conference further solidifies an elite championship experience for the student-athletes,” said Ludwig. “The strength of our sport throughout these geographic regions creates more opportunity for fan interest and the overall growth of wrestling. NIU is excited about this expansion and looks forward to hosting the inaugural Championship event.”

Joel Greenlee, Head Coach, Ohio:
“The seven EWL wrestling schools are a great addition for the MAC,” said Greenlee. “Many of the EWL schools are traditional wrestling powers and they are located in the hotbed of wrestling. They also have a long history with a great deal of success. This addition will make the MAC one of the premier wrestling conferences in collegiate wrestling.”

Steve Martin, Head Coach, Old Dominion:
“The addition of the EWL will make the MAC one of the largest conferences in the country,” said Martin. “This helps the MAC by providing more opportunities against high level competition week in and week out. We look forward to welcoming the EWL to the conference!”

Jeremy Spates, Head Coach, SIU Edwardsville:
“The addition of these teams is going to be an excellent enhancement for the already strong Mid-American Conference,” said Spates. “These teams have a rich tradition in the sport of wrestling and will continue to improve the number of national qualifiers and All-Americans in the conference. It is a great day for the MAC and another step in the right direction.”

Mid-American Conference
Founded in 1946, the Mid-American Conference is an NCAA Division I, 12-member conference that sponsors 23 championships and is one of ten members of the Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS). With total enrollment of nearly 300,000 students, the league represents institutions of higher learning in five (5) states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio.

Current full member institutions and the year they joined are -- East Division: University of Akron (1992), Bowling Green State University (1952), University at Buffalo (1998), Kent State University (1951), Miami University (1947), Ohio University (1946). West Division: Ball State University (1973), Central Michigan University (1971), Eastern Michigan University (1971), Northern Illinois University (1975-86, rejoined in 1997), University of Toledo (1950), Western Michigan University (1947). The conference office is based in Cleveland, Ohio.





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