The Tiger Style wrestling team has opened up the season with a dominant 55-0 victory against in-state opponent Lindenwood University. Winning all ten bouts, the Tiger squad looked prepared to start the season.
Prepping for the next event on the schedule, the Tigers will continue to stay inside the Missouri borders and make their way down I-70 to North Kansas City where they will host a tournament at Staley High School. The home of the Falcons is familiar territory to current team members Rocky and Zach Elam, as well as other former Kansas City area wrestlers on the team.
In a prior article, I previewed some of the schools and wrestlers who may be attending. With the season now taking off for all NCAA squads, we can now get a more fine-tuned look at what we have to look forward to. Here are some of the potential exciting match-ups Brian Smith’s squad will face. We will open by looking at the 125lbs weight class.
At 125lbs, the Tigers will be represented by Noah Surtin. Surtin opened his season with a second-period fall against Lindenwood. Among wrestlers in the rest of his bracket, Surtin will have a moderate to simple route to a finals match with a potential meet-up with another top-25 wrestler out of Illinois, Justin Cardini. Cardini is now a fourth-year starter and a returning two-time NCAA qualifier and has recently been ranked #19 by FloWrestling and #22 by InterMat.
- Others to watch at 125: Antonio Lorenzo (Cal Poly) & Braxton Brown (Maryland)
The 133 lbs weight class will be headlined by Lucas Byrd out of Illinois. Byrd is currently ranked as the #6 wrestler on both Flo and InterMat. He is a two-time NCAA All-American, placing 5th place twice in the past two seasons. Mizzou wrestler Connor Brown will have his work cut out if he finds his way into a battle with Byrd at any point in the tournament. Brown is coming into the tournament after a late match fall against Lindenwood, and currently sits outside of the top 25 in his weight class.
At 141 lbs, Mizzou’s Alan Hart will be the top wrestler in his bracket. Hart currently ranks #6 on both Flo and InterMat. He comes into the tournament with a 1-0 record after putting on a technique display in the home opener against Lindenwood. Other notable wrestlers inside of his bracket include Maryland’s Kal Miller and Lawrence Saenz of Cal Poly. Miller is a noteworthy name as he has roots in Missouri coming out of Park Hill High School (KC) and has followed former Mizzou assistant coach Alex Clemson in joining his Terrapin squad. Saenz is a returning starter for the Mustangs and ranks just outside the top 25 inside the weight class.
The anticipated return of top-ranked Brock Mauller is finally upon us at 149 lbs. Brock Mauller is one of two top contenders at 149 for the Tiger Style Invitational; the other is Dom Demas of Cal Poly. Demas enters the tournament as the #15 ranked wrestler on Flo and #11 on InterMat. He spent his previous year competing for the Oklahoma Sooners prior to transferring to Cal Poly. During his time with OU, Demas was a two-time NCAA Qualifier and one-time All-American, placing fourth as a redshirt freshman.
- Others to watch at 149: Ethen Miller (Maryland) & Luke Nichter (Drexel)
At 157 lbs, Jarrett Jacques sits atop his bracket as the only wrestler ranked inside the top 25 among both FloWrestling and InterMat. Jacques enters the tournament 1-0 with a tech fall under his belt already. A potential match-up that could surprise people comes against Luka Wick. Wick is a Cal Poly redshirt freshman who was ranked #8 at 152 by FloWrestling coming out of High school in 2021.
We all know who sits on top when it comes to the 165 lbs weight class. Mizzou’s Keegan O’Toole will look to continue his win streak dating back to his freshman season for the Tigers. En route to a potential finals match at the Tiger Style Invitational, O’Toole’s bracket consists of multiple guys ranked inside the top 25: Dan Braunagel (Illinois), Legend Lamer (Cal Poly), and Evan Barczak (Drexel). Braunagel, #14 on Flo and #21 on InterMat, is a one-time NCAA qualifier. Lamer, #23 on Flo and InterMat, is a two-time NCAA qualifier. Barczak, #25 on Flo and #19 on InterMat, is also a two-time NCAA qualifier. O’Toole has yet to match up with any of these opponents during his collegiate career.
Next in line is the 174 lbs weight class. Tiger Style leads the top of this class with Peyton Mocco, who is returning for his fifth season with the Tigers. Mocco comes into the tournament fresh off his first fall of the season during the Tigers’ home opener. After Mocco, Drexel’s Michael O’Malley comes in right on his heels. Like Peyton, O’Malley is also ranked inside the top ten on both sites (#10 on Flo and #8 on InterMat) and is a two-time NCAA qualifier. A little further down the ranks enters Edmond Ruth of Illinois. Ruth is the brother of three-time NCAA champion Edward Ruth (Penn State). He comes into the tournament ranked #22 on Flo and #16 on InterMat.
- Others to watch at 174: Triston Wills (Little Rock)
Next in line is the 184 lbs weight class. Sean Harmon represents the Tigers and will be looking to continue an underdog season by making himself a household name. Harmon’s biggest competition will come from higher-ranked Adam Kemp of Cal Poly. Kemp is currently ranked #19 on Flo and #18 on InterMat and is a returning NCAA qualifier from the previous season.
197 lbs… Buckle up, and prepare for some fireworks! This is going to be an exciting weight class to watch as three top-ten wrestlers in the nation will be involved here: Rocky Elam (Mizzou), Bernie Truax (Cal Poly), and Zac Braunagel (Illinois). Rocky, the top-ranked out of the three, will enter the tournament looking to compete outside the wrestling room for the first time this season. Truax, #5 on both Flo and InterMat, is a two-time NCAA All-American, placing fourth in back-to-back seasons. Braunagel, #8 on Flo and #13 on Intermat, is a two-time NCAA qualifier. Elam has yet to see either of these wrestlers during his collegiate career. Truax, however, has a 2-0 record against Braunagel.
- Others to watch at 197: Jaxson Smith (Maryland)
We finally reach the last weight class, 285 lbs, and once again, Tiger Style will headline yet another weight class. Zach Elam enters the tournament with a 1-0 record and will be looking to build off of his record-setting season debut (9-second fall). His toughest competition across the mat comes from the land of Terrapins. Jaron Smith has spent his last seven seasons wrestling for Maryland and enters his eighth this year. He’s reached the NCAA Championships once, during his previous campaign on the wrestling mat.
The 2022 Tiger Style Invitational has an exciting field and is the first one of hopefully many to come for the Missouri Wrestling program. Highlighted above are only a select number of the notable names to compete in the tournament. Many other wrestlers will be looking to stand out in a group of talented athletes. Brian Smith and his Tiger wrestlers should be able to come out on top and defend their home state. We’re excited to watch!