Manheim, Pennsylvania — Two of the teams favored to compete for an NCAA Division I team championship in 2017-18 sit atop the first USA Today/NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll released by the National Wrestling Coaches Association on Tuesday.
Penn State, which won its sixth title in the past seven years and seventh overall, gained all 16 first-place votes to come in as the unanimous No. 1 team in the country. Ohio State, which is expected to field a power-packed lineup, came in second as a unanimous No. 2. They two teams will meet as part of their Big Ten schedule on Saturday, February 3 at Penn State. The USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll is a dual-meet ranking.
The Nittany Lions return five individual Division I champions — Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Mark Hall (174) and Bo Nickal (184). The Buckeyes boast a lineup that includes past NCAA champions Nathan Tomasello, Myles Martin and World and Olympic champion Kyle Snyder.
Oklahoma State is the lone Big 12 team in the top 10. The Cowboys finished last season ranked second in the Coaches Poll after falling to Penn State in the National Duals finale. Michigan is expected to compete for a team trophy this season with two-time All-American Adam Coon returning off redshirt. The Wolverines are poised to make a significant jump after finishing just 8-7 in dual meets last season.
Missouri is the lone Mid-American Conference squad in the top 10. Hit hard with the loss of three-time NCAA champion J’den Cox and three-time All-American Lavion Mayes, the Tigers do get the services of two-time All-American Willie Miklus back after he lost last season to injury.
Minnesota, Iowa, NC State, Virginia Tech and Lehigh round out the top 10.
As usual, the Big Ten Conference dominates the poll with five of the nation’s top seven teams and nine teams in the Top 25 overall. The Big 12, which added No. 13 Northern Iowa this season as an affiliate member, boasts four teams in the poll, as does the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Along with Oklahoma State and Northern Iowa, both South Dakota State (No. 16) and Oklahoma (No. 19) appear in the preseason poll. The No. 16 ranking for South Dakota State ties the highest team ranking in school history for the program at the Division I level. The Jackrabbits peaked at No. 16 on February 7 last season.
Joining NC State and Virginia Tech from the ACC are North Carolina (No. 22) and Pittsburgh (No. 24).
From the EWL, Rider starts the season ranked No. 23, and for the first time since Jimmy Carter was President, the school will have a man not named Gary Taylor leading the program. John Hangey takes the reins after Taylor coached the Lawrenceville, New Jersey school for 39 seasons. The Broncs were ranked No. 25 for one week last season.
The EIWA, EWL, MAC, and Pac-12 conferences each have two teams represented.
The USA Today/NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll is comprised of two voting coaches from each Division I wrestling conference. Points are 25 for each first-place vote, 24 for second, 23 for third all the way to a 25th-place vote is one point.
Future Poll Dates (Tuesdays unless otherwise noted): November 14, November 21, November 28, December 5, December 12, December 19, January 3 (Wednesday), January 9, January 16, January 23, January 30, February 6, February 13, February 20, February, 27.
[eztable width=”700″]Rank,Team (First),16-17 Record,Points,Conference,16-17 Final Dual Rank
1,Penn State (16),14-0,400,Big Ten,1
2,Ohio State,11-3,384,Big Ten,6
3,Oklahoma State,14-1,358,Big 12,2
13,Northern Iowa,11-3,208,Big 12,14
16,South Dakota State,14-5,157,Big 12,19
Others Receiving Votes: Wyoming 25, North Dakota State 24, Oregon State 23, Purdue 13, Princeton 7, Navy 6, Lock Haven 5, West Virginia 5, Campbell 4, Chattanooga 4, Virginia 4, Buffalo 3, CSU Bakersfield 3, Appalachian State 2, Bucknell 1, Indiana 1