Surtin-ly in: Noah Surtin fills in for injured Connor Brown, qualifies for NCAA Tournament

No. 5 Missouri had a strong showing at the MAC Wrestling Championships, with Surtin being one of eight Tigers to make the final of their weight class.

As the weekend of the MAC Wrestling Championships approached, No. 5 Missouri didn’t expect to call sophomore Noah Surtin’s name much, if at all.

The regular starter in the 125 weight class for the Tigers, redshirt junior Connor Brown, was ranked No. 19 in the country heading into the tournament. Each team can only send one representative per weight class, meaning that Surtin was unlikely to take part.

Coach Brian Smith’s plans needed to change, though, as Brown was injured in the lead up to the tournament. This led to Surtin receiving the nod.

“It was really unfortunate to see what happened to Connor,” Surtin said via the team’s Twitter account. “He’s a great teammate; he cares about all of us. He cares about me, and he’s rooting me on.”

After the injury, Brown went to Surtin to wish him luck.

“He came right after he got back from the hospital,” Surtin said via the team’s Twitter account. “In crutches, he walked up to me with a tear in his eye, and he told me, ‘Go win the tournament. Kick some butt.’”

Surtin would impress in the tournament, where he made a dominant run to the final. He beat Bloomsburg’s Bronson Garber with a 12-0 major decision, Lock Haven’s Luke Werner by fall and Kent State’s Jake Ferri 7-0 on his road to the championship bout.

Surtin was one of eight Missouri wrestlers to make their tournament final.

“This team all season has gotten after it when they’ve stepped on the mat,” Smith said in a press release. “There’s not one instance where this team showed up and a Missouri fan could say ‘well the wrestling team didn’t look good today.’ This team has shown up every day and competed. As a coach you’re grateful to coach a team like that.”

Surtin’s run to the final pitted him against Central Michigan’s Drew Hildebrandt. Hildebrandt came into the tournament as the defending champion and was ranked No. 2 in the InterMat national rankings.

Upsetting Hildebrandt would prove to be a bridge too far for the Missouri sophomore, as the Central Michigan wrestler won 6-1.

Despite the final defeat, Surtin will represent the Tigers in the NCAA Championships in St. Louis next month. All ten of Missouri’s participants in the MAC Championships qualified for nationals.

“I remember me, Sean [Harman] and a couple others last year tagged along and went to the MAC Tournament with everyone,” Surtin said via the team’s Twitter account. “We got to witness everything, and I just remember seeing the people in the finals, and I was like, ‘Those kids are good, this is really cool.’”

In qualifying for nationals, Surtin achieved a childhood dream.

“I’ve been dreaming of this stuff since I was eight years old,” Surtin said via the team’s Twitter account. “To finally punch my ticket to NCAAs and be in the finals against a real good kid, to make some noise and prove some people wrong: It was really fun.”

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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