BURNSVILLE, MINN. – The Southwest Minnesota State wrestling team was picked to finish 10th in the annual Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Preseason Coaches’ poll released on Tuesday.
St. Cloud State, the nine-time defending NSIC Champion, was the unanimous choice to win the league title with nine first-place votes and 81 points. SCSU has won the past two NCAA team championships (2019 and 2018) and four since 2015. Upper Iowa was voted second at 68 points and earning the other first place vote. Augustana was selected third with 66 points, followed by Minnesota State in fourth place with 61 points and Wisconsin-Parkside rounding out the top five with 45 points. Parkside joined the NSIC as an associate member in wrestling this season.
Jesse Nelson begins his 14th season as head coach of the Mustangs and has 30 athletes on the roster that includes one senior, six juniors, 11 sophomores, six redshirt freshmen and six true freshmen. SMSU returns eight wrestlers who competed at the NCAA Super Region V Championships last February.
SMSU senior Jackson Ryan at 197 pounds was named an “Athlete to Watch” in 2021. Ryan qualified for the 2020 NCAA Championships last March following a third-place finish at 197 in the NCAA Super Region V Championships. Ryan finished the season with 22 victories, including a 5-2 record in NSIC duals.
Sophomore Hunter Pfantz is also back at 125, following a season in which he won 18 matches, including a 4-1 mark in NSIC bouts, to earn second-team All-NSIC honors. Sophomore, Justin Sampson at 141, finished with a winning record in NSIC bouts and recorded 11 victories overall a season ago. Sophomore Jordan Stauffacher, at 133, joined the team at winter semester last season and finished with a 5-1 record in NSIC matches.
Another sophomore, Hayden Voxland at 174, won 15 matches a season ago and won four matches in NSIC bouts. Junior Robert Shields at 149, is another Mustang who made big strides a season ago after racking up 16 victories, including a pair in NSIC duals.
Junior Caden Steffen, a transfer from the University of Minnesota, should make an immediate impact at 184 pounds. Steffen recorded 36 victories in open tournaments during his two-year career at Minnesota.
Southwest Minnesota State opens its six-match NSIC dual season on Jan. 7 at MSU Moorhead. SMSU’s first of three home duals this season is set for Jan. 14 versus UMary. The NCAA Super Region V Championship will be held in Aberdeen, S.D., on Feb. 27 with the NCAA Championships on March 12-13 at a site to be determined.
2020-21 NSIC Wrestling Preseason Coaches’ Poll
- St. Cloud State
- Upper Iowa
- Minnesota State
- Northern State
- U Mary
- MSU Moorhead
- Minot State
- Southwest Minnesota State