Gophers voted No. 1 by NWCA/USAToday, named No. 3 by InterMat
Look out wrestling nation! Minnesota Wrestling has been voted the preseason favorite, earning seven first-place votes for a total of 397 points, in the NWCA/USA Today Division I Team Coaches Preseason Poll. In the first of many to be released by the NCAA this season, eight Big Ten teams are represented in the preseason poll, six of which are denoted in the top 10 and four in the top 5.
The Golden Gophers start their season right where they left off. After a season of a 14-3 overall record and a final 2011-12 ranking at No. 1, the team is picked as the national leader again this year. Minnesota returns all but two wrestlers to the starting lineup, including five All-Americans, Big Ten Champion Kevin Steinhaus, and National Heavyweight Champion Tony Nelson. The Gophers will also benefit from an influx of fresh talent as they welcome 12 newcomers to this year’s roster.
Two-time national and conference champions, Penn State sweeps in close at the No. 2 rank, trailing Minnesota by just five points. The team, which features five All-Americans and nine NCAA qualifiers, received three first-place votes. Oklahoma State follows in third after a 17-2 season in 2011-12. Oklahoma State is only joined in the poll by only one other team from the Big 12 Conference, Oklahoma.
Big Ten rivals Iowa and Ohio State round out the top five. Finishing in fourth with a 14-4 overall record last season, the Hawkeyes earned 371 points to hold the same position in the preseason. The Buckeyes move up two spots from their final 2011-12 rank to sit in fifth. For full preseason rankings, click here.
InterMat has also released its preseason NCAA Division I poll with Minnesota Wrestling has been tabbed as the No. 3 team in the tournament-strength rankings. Nine individuals were named among the top competitors in their weight classes.
Minnesota received 89 points in the team poll, falling just behind Iowa with 93 points. Defending national champions Penn State came in first with a total of 107.5. Five other Big Ten teams made the list of 25, proving the tough competition that the Gophers will face in conference play this season.
Individually, the Maroon and Gold pinned wrestlers in nine of the ten possible weight class rankings. Reigning National Champion Tony Nelson received the top spot among heavyweights while other 2012 Big Ten Champion Kevin Steinhaus was picked fourth in the 184 weight class. In total, four Gophers fell into the top five and only two picked to repeat with a 107.5 score. Oklahoma State and Ohio State rounded out the top five with 87.5 and 75 points, respectively, were pegged outside the top 10.
InterMat NCAA Division I Wrestling Rankings
125: David Thorn, No. 11
133: Chris Dardanes, No. 4
141: Nick Dardanes, No. 7
149: Dylan Ness, No. 3
165: Cody Yohn, No. 11
174: Logan Storley, No. 6
184: Kevin Steinhaus, No. 4
197: Scott Schiller, No. 11
285 (HWT): Tony Nelson, No. 1
No. 1/No. 3 Minnesota Wrestling will begin its season on Nov. 9 when it welcomes No. 25/No. 18 Hofstra to the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minn. The meet is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. CT.