By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the 22nd-straight edition, Grand View (Iowa) holds the No. 1 ranking in the NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Top 20 Poll, the national office announced Wednesday. The Vikings, who have 12 individual wrestlers ranked in the poll, accrued 172 total points.
Grand View’s ranked grapplers are highlighted by Ryak Finch (125), Brandon Wright (141) and Dallas Houchins (157). Finch and Wright have been listed atop their class in all five polls this season. The Vikings enter the national championships coming off their fifth-straight Central Qualifier team title, as all 12 wrestlers automatically qualified with top-four finishes.
Jumping two places to No. 2 is Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) with 108.5 points. The East Qualifier champion Blue Raiders boast nine ranked individuals. Freshman Michael Pixley leads the charge, ranking atop the 184-pound weight class for a second-consecutive week. The Blue Springs, Mo., native is 18-0 on the year.
Rounding out the top five are No. 3 Great Falls (Mont.) (105.5 points), No. 4 Southern Oregon (99.5 points) and No. 5 Montana State-Northern (99.5 points). Great Falls and Southern Oregon each boast one top-ranked individual – Michael Ruiz (133) for the Argonauts and Brock Gutches (174) for the Raiders.
Montana State-Northern is led by Ethan Hinebauch (165) and Toby Cheff (285). Hinebauch has listed atop the 165-pound weight class in seven of the last eight polls, while Cheff is No. 1 at 285 for a second-straight week. Both won titles at the West Qualifier.
No. 9 Missouri Valley’s Jake Ekster is the only new No. 1 this week. The Houston, Texas, native pinned previously top-ranked Gustavo Martinez of Grand View (Iowa) in 6:52 in the 149-pound title match at the Central Qualifier. Ekster was last ranked No. 1 on Dec. 10.
No. 20 Simpson (Calif.) is the only newcomer in this installment.
The 2015 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, presented by Blue Chip Wrestling, will take place March 6 – 7 at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kan. Stretch Internet, the NAIA’s official video stream provider, will broadcast the championship bouts (session IV) Saturday night on www.NAIANetwork.com. Action for that session is scheduled to begin at approximately 7 p.m. CST.
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 postseason poll will be announced Feb. 12.
Notes (all information dates back to 2000-01 season): Grand View’s (Iowa) No. 1 ranking is its 27th all-time, which ranks second of all programs since 2000-01 … The Vikings have held the top spot in 22-straight polls … Former member Lindenwood (Mo.) boasts the most all-time No. 1 rankings with 39, while Notre Dame (Ohio) is third with 14 … Nine programs have appeared in the Top 20 for at least 20-consecutive polls, led by No. 7 Campbellsville’s (Ky.) and No. 3 Great Falls’ (Mont.) current run of 77-straight polls, dating back to 2005-06 … No. 5 Montana State-Northern is the only other school with at least 60-straight appearances (68) … 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’ Top 20 Poll – Final (Feb. 25)
|Rank||Previous Rank||School||Total Team Points|
|1||1||Grand View (Iowa)||172|
|2||4||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||108.5|
|3||3||Great Falls (Mont.)||105.5|
|11||13||Dickinson State (N.D.)||42.5|
Others receiving votes: York (Neb.) 14; Morningside (Iowa) 11.5; William Penn (Iowa) 11; Doane (Neb.) 10; Northwestern (Iowa) 10; Briar Cliff (Iowa) 9; Ottawa (Kan.) 8; Jamestown (N.D.) 8; Wayland Baptist (Texas) 6.5; Benedictine (Kan.) 6; Waldorf (Iowa) 6; Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 5; St. Andrews (N.C.) 5; Williams Baptist (Ark.) 4.5; Brewton-Parker (Ga.) 4; St. Catharine (Ky.) 3.5; Graceland (Iowa) 3.5; Missouri Baptist 3; Calumet (Ind.) 2; Hastings (Neb.) 1.5.
Top-Ranked Individuals | Individual Rankings
125 – Ryak Finch, Grand View (Iowa)
133 – Michael Ruiz, Great Falls (Mont.)
141 – Brandon Wright, Grand View (Iowa)
149 – Jake Ekster, Missouri Valley
157 – Dallas Houchins, Grand View (Iowa)
165 – Ethan Hinebauch, Montana State-Northern
174 – Brock Gutches, Southern Oregon
184 – Michael Pixley, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
197 – Hudson Buck, Dickinson State (N.D.)
285 – Toby Cheff, Montana State-Northern