By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The top four teams remain unchanged for the third-straight poll with defending national champion Grand View (Iowa) headlining the group with the top-spot in the second regular-season edition of the NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Top 20 Poll, the national office announced Wednesday. The Vikings, who tallied 129.5 points, are making their 11th-straight appearance at No. 1.
Individually, Grand View boasts 11 ranked wrestlers, including five individuals that are listed among the top three in their respective weight class. Gustavo Martinez (141) and Eric Thompson (285) are the Vikings’ two No. 1-ranked individuals and have both held that post in every poll this season. Martinez owns a 9-2 overall record this year, including three victories against NCAA Division I opponents, while Thompson is 11-1, including five pins.
Checking in a No. 2 is Montana State-Northern with 129 points. The Lights, led by top-ranked Aaron LaFarge (125), are an impressive 8-1 in duals this season, including wins over four ranked NAIA opponents – No. 5 Great Falls (Mont.), 26-15; No. 7 Southern Oregon, 36-12; No. 9 Simpson (Calif.), 41-6; and No. 11 Indiana Tech, 31-12.
Missouri Valley with 96.5 points and Campbellsville (Ky.) with 94 points hold down the No. 3 and No. 4 spots, respectively. Jake Ekster (149) – one of two new top-ranked wrestlers this edition – is Missouri Valley’s lone No. 1 individual. The sophomore is 5-0 on the season, with his most recent victory coming against Cullen Halpin of NCAA Division II Lindenwood (Mo.), 4-2, on Nov. 23.
Campbellsville owns a poll-high 12 ranked grapplers. The Tigers are 8-3 in duals this season. Brandon Westerman, who is ranked No. 2 at 141 pounds is the program’s highest ranking individual.
No. 5 Great Falls (Mont.) rounds out the top five with 78 points. The Argonauts had been ranked No. 6 in the previous two editions.
For the second-straight week, Cumberland (Tenn.) made the largest improvement within the Top 20, jumping four spots to No. 8. This is the first time the Bulldogs have been ranked in the top 10 since Jan. 25, 2011.
No. 18 Cumberlands (Ky.) and No. 20 Morningside (Iowa) are this week’s newcomers.
Simpson’s (Calif.) A.J. Valles at 133 pounds joins Ekster as this edition’s only other new top-ranked individual. Valles has won four-straight en route to a 10-3 record on the year.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the Qualifying Groups.
For a complete look at the 2013-14 NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Top 20 Poll calendar, click here. The third regular-season poll will be announced Jan. 1.
Notes (all information dates back to 2000-01 season): Grand View’s (Iowa) No. 1 ranking is its 16th all-time, which ranks second of all programs since 2000-01 … The Vikings have held the top spot in 11-straight polls, which is the most since former member Notre Dame (Ohio) was No. 1 14-consecutive times from Nov. 24, 2009 to Feb. 22, 2011 … Former member Lindenwood (Mo.) boasts the most all-time No. 1 rankings with 39, while Notre Dame is third with 14 … Nine programs have appeared in the Top 20 for at least 20-consecutive polls, led by No. 4 Campbellsville’s (Ky.) and No. 5 Great Falls’ (Mont.) current run of 66-straight polls, dating back to 2005-06 … No. 2 Montana State-Northern is the only other school with at least 50-straight appearances (57) … Notre Dame and Lindenwood are the only programs to have spent an entire season ranked No. 1 (Notre Dame: 2010-11; Lindenwood: 2006-07).2013-14 NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Top 20 Poll – No. 2 (Dec. 11)
|Rank||Previous Rank||School||Total Team Points|
|1||1||Grand View (Iowa)||129.5|
|5||6||Great Falls (Mont.)||78|
|6||5||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||75.5|
|15||T18||Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.)||30|
|17||15||Wayland Baptist (Texas)||28.5|
Others receiving votes: Dickinson State (N.D.) 21.5; Life (Ga.) 17; William Penn (Iowa) 16; Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) 16; Concordia (Neb.) 14; Benedictine (Kan.) 8.5; Northwestern (Iowa) 8.5; Missouri Baptist 8; Briar Cliff (Iowa) 7; Jamestown (N.D.) 5; Hastings (Neb.) 3; Calumet (Ind.) 2.5; Brewton-Parker (Ga.) 2.
Top-Ranked Individuals | Individual Rankings
125 – Aaron LaFarge, Montana State-Northern
133 – A.J. Valles, Simpson (Calif.)
141 – Gustavo Martinez, Grand View (Iowa)
149 – Jake Ekster, Missouri Valley
157 – Joe Cozart, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
165 – Eric Lopez, Menlo (Calif.)
174 – Brock Gutches, Southern Oregon
184 – Jameel Bryant, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
197 – Charles Johnson, Southern Oregon
HWT – Eric Thompson, Grand View (Iowa)