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Missouri wrestling coach says No. 7 ranking leaves team wanting more

Missouri is ranked seventh in the preseason poll, but head coach Brian Smith wants to see his team finish on the podium this year.

Ed Zurga

Missouri enters the wrestling season ranked seventh in the nation, the 11th straight year that they are a top 15 team to start the season, and fresh off of a 14-4 season that included a Big 12 title. That isn't nearly good enough for head coach Brian Smith, though. Last year's Big 12 Coach of the Year is aiming higher.

The goal is to get on the podium as a team. That's a top four team so, where we finish we will find out. But it's also staying healthy, doing the right things, and continuing to get better everyday. The neat thing with this team is the maturity they have. The team brings a lot of experience and experience is a great thing anywhere you go. The experience many of them bring is going to be important for what we want to accomplish. But this team also loves to compete. The difference between the good and the great is the good ones love to compete.

All 10 of the Tigers' starters qualified for the NCAA Championships last season, a first for the school, and nine of those 10 wrestlers are back this year. With All-American Dom Bradley also returning after taking an Olympic redshirt, there is plenty of reason for optimism in Columbia.

Missouri will be switching conference this season. They will compete in the Mid-American Conference as part of a five-year deal that will see the Tigers, Old Dominion and Northern Iowa become affiliate members of the conference for wrestling. The Tigers were left without a wrestling conference when they moved to the SEC, which does not compete in the sport.