Missouri wrestling team set to compete in first MAC tournament

Friday, March 8, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:18 a.m. CST, Friday, March 8, 2013

COLUMBIA — Senior Mike Larson has already competed in two different conferences' championships during his college career.

As a redshirt freshman at California State University-Bakersfield, Larson finished second as a 184-pounder at the 2010 Pac-10 Championships. That offseason, however, Cal State contemplated eliminating four of its intercollegiate sports. One of the potential casualties was the wrestling program. Students were given an option: they could remain with the program in the midst of the program’s uncertainty or they could transfer without penalty.

Larson chose to transfer and join the Missouri wrestling team.

Larson immediately entered the starting rotation in his first season with the Tigers. In his second season, Larson finished as the 2012 Big 12 Conference champion.

Then Missouri moved to the Southeastern Conference – a conference that doesn't sponsor wrestling.

Once again, Larson wasn't sure in which conference he would land.

Eventually the program found a new home. Larson and his teammates will travel this Friday to compete in their first Mid-American Conference tournament in Buffalo, N.Y.

“It’s different, but the competition is still pretty tough,” sophomore Devin Mellon said.

The pre-seeds for the tournament, which were voted on by the conference’s coaches and announced March 5, have Missouri wrestlers at the top of six of the ten weight classes. Coming off of a Big 12 Conference team title last season, Missouri is looking to make a statement in their new conference.

Larson in particular is looking forward to the tournament.

“So I’m looking to win this one and become a finalist in three different conferences," Larson said Tuesday. "That’d be pretty cool.”

The first round of the MAC tournament will begin at 10 a.m. EST this Sunday at the University at Buffalo.

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