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Wrestling: Bobcats ready to flex muscles at MAC Championships

The weekend that Ohio and nine other Mid-American Conference teams have been wrestling for the entire season has finally come, as the MAC Championships are set to commence day one of action at Kent State University. The preliminary matches will get started at noon with quarterfinal matches following at 1 p.m.

The Bobcats enter with three No. 1 seeds in the tournament, second-highest of all teams to Northern Iowa’s four top-seeded wrestlers. No. 17 Junior Tywan Claxton (24-6) owns the top seed in the 149-pound class over Missouri’s No. 1 Drake Houdashelt. Claxton handed Houdashelt his only loss of the season to this point in Ohio’s dual against Missouri back in December.

In the 197-pound class, No. 8 redshirt sophomore Phil Wellington (30-3) garners the No. 1 seed, and enters the tournament with a ten-match win streak. Wellington’s most notable challenger is also a Tiger, with 2nd-seeded J’Den Cox entering the tournament as the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the country. Wellington defeated Cox with a 6-4 decision in December.

No. 11 Jeremy Johnson (33-4) holds the Bobcat’s final No. 1 seed in the heavyweight class, and currently owns a 12-match win streak. Johnson is the only MAC wrestler ranked in the top-20 in the national heavyweight standings, and went undefeated in dual competition this season. Johnson placed third in the MAC tournament last season.

Outside the three top seeds, the biggest Bobcat to watch in the tournament will be No. 14 redshirt sophomore Cody Walters (9-2), who will be looking to defend his MAC title in the 174-pound class. Walters will be the third seed in this year’s tournament, ranked behind the two wrestlers who defeated him in dual matches this season. Walters’ regular season was largely hampered by injuries, and he hasn’t wrestled since February 9th, casting some doubt on his ability defend his championship.

Redshirt junior Harrison Hightower (29-10) will be the third seed in the 165-pound bracket, after finishing the regular season with a 5-3 record against MAC competition and the third-highest fall count out of all Division I wrestlers with 15.

Also getting seeded for the Bobcats is No. 5 seed 157-pound redshirt sophomore Spartak Chino (17-10), No. 6 seeds 125-pound sophomore KeVon Powell (13-11) and 141-pound freshman Noah Forrider (23-14), and No. 7 seed 133-pound sophomore Kagan Squire (8-10). Powell finished third in last season’s MAC Championships after entering with a similarly low seeding.

As a team, the Bobcats will try to salvage something out of a disappointing MAC season that saw them post a 4-4 in-conference record after being picked to win the conference in the preseason polls. Ohio finished tied for fifth in last season’s tournament.

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