Waters, Eblen looking to help Missouri wrestling win national title

Already enjoying unprecedented success, Missouri plans to chase a team title at this weekend’s NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Mo. A pair of Park Hill graduates and seniors for the Tigers will be helping lead the push toward the best finish in program history, right now a third-place showing 2007. Alan Waters (125 pounds) owns the No. 1 seed at 125 pounds with his 30-0 record — one of three No. 1s for Missouri. Johnny Eblen earned the No. 4 spot in the 174 bracket coming off his best collegiate season.

Missouri has all 10 wrestlers qualified for nationals, seeking its best finish in team history. The Tigers already won the national dual title last month — a first — before claiming a third straight Mid-American Conference title.

One of five MAC champions and the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler, Waters has a chance to become a two-time All-American this weekend. He placed fourth at 125 in 2013 but sat out the 2013-14 season after suffering multiple broken bones in his foot but already owns a win this season against two-time defending national champion Jesse Delgado of Illinois.

Waters, Park Hill’s only four-time state champion, opens his fourth national tournament against Old Dominion’s Brandon Jeske (13-11).

Eblen (26-5) made nationals for the first time after finishing second at 174 in the MAC Championships held at Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo. A three-time medalist, two-time finalist and state champion at 189 in 2010 for Park Hill, Eblen is in his second full-year as a starter but missed the 2014 postseason due to injury. He faces Oregon State’s Joe Latham (22-16) in his opener and first ever match at nationals.

The opening round starts Thursday, March 19 with the finals set for Saturday.