photo courtesy of UCM athletics
The Central Missouri Mules have competed in every NCAA Division II National Championship, with seven National Champions among 64 total All-Americans. The program has 191 National Qualifiers and more than 400 dual wins in its history, with Justin Ensign currently leading the Mules in his 10th year.
“The University of Central Missouri Wrestling program has survived and thrived for a long time by having tough, hard nosed, and selfless individuals,” Ensign said. “We will continue to try and build a strong culture based on that, and try to keep pushing to be competitive at the highest level as a team.”
Frank Cagnina was the most recent Mule to stand atop the podium at the NCAA Division II National Championships, winning at 149 in both 2014 and 2015. Last season, 2019 National Qualifier John Feeney placed fifth at the gauntlet that is the NCAA Super Region 4 tournament at 133, but will be lost to graduation for next season. The future is young and bright for the Mules however, as three UCM wrestlers finished runner-up in the Midwest Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAA) last season.
Conner Dalton (141), Austin Morgan (157) and John Ridle (165) all return to the Mule lineup next season after each finishing as runners-up in the MIAA. Dalton and Morgan are both sophomores, and with Ridle just a freshman, their experience will carry onto the future for UCM. In addition to this trio, three other starters also return for Ensign in 2020-21. With an Illinois State Champion joining the roster from the early signing period, Cole Hatfield coming off of a redshirt and the rest of a recruiting class, UCM will look to field a roster of around 35 for the coming season.