By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Three-time defending national champion Grand View (Iowa) garners the No. 1 ranking in the NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Preseason Top 20 Poll, the national office announced Wednesday. The Vikings received 154.5 points en route to their 17th-consecutive top billing.
Grand View boasts a poll-best 11 ranked wrestlers, including three top-ranked individuals – Ryak Finch (125 pounds), Brandon Wright (141 pounds) and Christian Mays (184 pounds). Finch and Wright both enter the 2014-15 season looking to defend their 2014 national titles. Mays earned All-America status with a fifth-place finish at the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships.
Perennial powerhouse Southern Oregon checks in at No. 2 with 101.5 points. The Raiders boast nine ranked individuals, highlighted by three-time defending national champion Brock Gutches at 174 pounds. Gutches, who was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at last year’s national championships, will represent the NAIA at the 2014 NWCA All-Star Classic’s main event on Nov. 1. He will take on two-time NCAA Division I All-American Robert Kokesh of Nebraska. The appearance by Gutches is a first for NAIA wrestling in 10 years.
No. 3 Great Falls (Mont.) with 86 points, No. 4 Missouri Valley with 71.5 points and No. 5 Montana State-Northern with 69 points. Of the trio, Missouri Valley showcases two top-ranked individuals – Jake Ekster (149 pounds) and Gabi Musallam (285 pounds) – while Montana-State Northern has one – Ethan Hinebauch (165 pounds). Great Falls is the only team in the top five to not have a No. 1 individual.
Bryce Shoemaker (133 pounds) of Baker (Kan.), Joe Cozart (157 pounds) of Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and Stephen Loosbrook (197 pounds) of Benedictine (Kan.) are the only No. 1 individuals not associated with a top-five program. Shoemaker and Cozart both won their first national title last season, while Loosbrook finished runner-up to Jesse Hellinger of Dickinson State (N.D.).
With seven returning All-Americans, the 157-pound weight class is the most decorated of the ten levels.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the four Qualifying Groups.
For the complete look at the 2014-15 NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Top 20 Poll calendar, click here. The first regular-season poll will be announced No. 19.
Notes (all information dates back to 2000-01 season): Grand View’s (Iowa) No. 1 ranking is its 22nd all-time, which ranks second of all programs since 2000-01 … The Vikings have held the top spot in 17-straight polls … Former member Lindenwood (Mo.) boasts the most all-time No. 1 rankings with 39, while Notre Dame is third with 14 … Nine programs have appeared in the Top 20 for at least 20-consecutive polls, led by No. 6 Campbellsville’s (Ky.) and No. 3 Great Falls’ (Mont.) current run of 72-straight polls, dating back to 2005-06 … No. 4 Montana State-Northern is the only other school with at least 50-straight appearances (63) … Grand View (2013-14), Notre Dame (2010-11) and Lindenwood (2006-07) are the only programs to spend an entire season ranked No. 1.2014-15 NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Preseason Top 20 Poll (Oct. 22)
|Rank||Previous Rank^||School||Total Team Points|
|1||1||Grand View (Iowa)||154.5|
|3||2||Great Falls (Mont.)||86|
|9||5||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||51.5|
|13||RV||William Penn (Iowa)||38.5|
Others receiving votes: Bethany (Kan.) 20; Cumberland (Tenn.) 20; Wayland Baptist (Texas) 20; Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 16; Northwestern (Iowa) 15.5; Brewton-Parker (Ga.) 13.5; Briar Cliff (Iowa) 10.5; Missouri Baptist 9.5; Hastings (Neb.) 8; St. Andrews (N.C.) 8; Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) 7; Waldorf (Iowa) 6.5; Bacone (Okla.) 5.5; Jamestown (N.D.) 4.5; Truett-McConnell (Ga.) 3; Doane (Neb.) 1.5.
^ 2013-14 NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Postseason Top 20 Poll
Top-Ranked Individuals | Individual Rankings
125 – Ryak Finch, Grand View (Iowa)
133 – Bryce Shoemaker, Baker (Kan.)
141 – Brandon Wright, Grand View (Iowa)
149 – Jake Ekster, Missouri Valley
157 – Joe Cozart, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
165 – Ethan Hinebauch, Montana State-Northern
174 – Brock Gutches, Southern Oregon
184 – Christian Mays, Grand View (Iowa)
197 – Stephen Loosbrock, Benedictine (Kan.)
285 – Gabi Musallam, Missouri Valley