Manheim, Pennsylvania – Oklahoma State will start the college wrestling season ranked No. 1 as the National Wrestling Coaches Association released its first 2015-16 USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll on Tuesday.
The Cowboys (12-3 in 2014-15) return All-Americans Eddie Klimara, Dean Heil, Alex Dieringer, Kyle Crutchmer and Austin Marsden. They received 10 of the possible 12 first-place votes. Coach John Smith’s team finished seventh at the 2015 NCAA Division I Championships and ended last season ranked sixth in the final coaches poll, which is a dual meet ranking.
Penn State (11-4) and Michigan (8-6), both from the Big Ten, came in at No. 2 and No. 3. The Nittany Lions will return five All-Americans. Coach Cael Sanderson’s squad saw a four-year run of winning the NCAA team title snapped last season when Ohio State won its first NCAA Division I wrestling championship.
Michigan has high expectations as the Wolverines and coach Joe McFarland return five All-Americans from a team that finished 11th last season at the NCAA championships.
Iowa and Ohio State round out the top five as four of the top five teams are from the Big Ten. Virginia Tech, Lehigh, Cornell, Missouri and Nebraska round out the top 10. Missouri finished last season as the only Division I college program with an unblemished dual meet record. Coach Brian Smith’s Tigers went 24-0 last season and ended the year ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/NWCA Coaches Poll.
The Big Ten leads all conferences with nine of its 14 members ranked in the Top 25. The recently-expanded Big 12 has five schools in the Top 25 as Oklahoma State is joined by No. 13 Iowa State, No. 20 Oklahoma, No. 21 West Virginia and No. 25 North Dakota State, one of the new affiliate members for wrestling in the conference.
The Mid-American Conference boasts four schools in the Top 25 with No. 9 Missouri, No. 16 Old Dominion, No. 22 Ohio and No. 23 Northern Iowa.
The ACC is represented by No. 6 Virginia Tech, No. 12 N.C. State and No. 14 North Carolina. The EIWA is the only other conference with more than one school represented as Lehigh and Cornell are both ranked in the Top 10.
Edinboro, last year’s Cinderella story at the NCAA championships, checks in at No. 24. The Fighting Scots were hit hard by graduation and are the only school from the Eastern Wrestling League in the Top 25. They finished third at last year’s NCAA championships, the first trophy in school history at the Division I level. Oregon State is the lone Pac-12 representative at No. 19.
The USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll will be released on Tuesdays during the college wrestling season with no poll being released on December 28.
[eztable width=”700″]Rank,Team (First),14-15 Record,Points,Conference,14-15 Final Dual Rank
1,Oklahoma State (10),12-3,294,Big 12,7
2,Penn State (1),11-4,284,Big Ten,6
3,Michigan (1),8-6,269,Big Ten,11
5,Ohio State,13-4,248,Big Ten,5
13,Iowa State,11-2,160,Big 12,8
21,West Virginia,8-10,45,Big 12,NR
25,North Dakota State,9-4,34,Big 12,20[/eztable]
Others Receiving Votes: Rider 33, Virginia 27, Arizona State 23, Central Michigan 21, Princeton 15, Kent State 13, Northwestern 12, Pittsburgh 7, Penn 4, Stanford 2