By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Propelled by 12 ranked wrestlers, Grand View (Iowa) continues its stranglehold on the top spot in the NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Top 20 Poll, the national office announced Wednesday. The Vikings, who are making their 13th-straight appearance at No. 1, and 18th all-time dating back to 2000, racked up 165 points in the fourth edition.
Grand View is led by a NAIA-best three top-ranked individuals in Ryak Finch (125 pounds), Gustavo Martinez (141 pounds) and Eric Thompson (285 pounds). The trio boasts a combined 53-7 overall record, including a 24-0 mark against NAIA opponents. Finch is making his first appearance of the season at No. 1, while Martinez and Thompson have held the top-spot in every poll. As a team, Grand View owns a 14-1 dual record this season, including a win against NCAA Division I Drexel (Iowa) and six victories against ranked NAIA squads. In one of their most recent events, the Vikings claimed their third-straight Cliff Keen National Duals title Jan. 11 – 12 in dominating fashion, winning 33-of-40 matches at the event.
Moving up one place from last edition is No. 2 Missouri Valley with 97 points. The Vikings have 10 ranked wrestlers, highlighted by top-ranked Jake Ekster at 149 pounds. Ekster was one of three Missouri Valley grapplers to claim an individual title at the Missouri Valley College Invitational in Marshall, Mo., Jan. 17 – 18. The sophomore was named the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestler after winning all four of his matches by pin.
Three points separate the next three positions in the poll held by No. 3 Montana State-Northern (91 points), No. 4 Great Falls (Mont.) (89.5 points) and No. 5 Campbellsville (Ky.) (88 points). Each program has at least three individuals that rank among the top four in their respective weight class.
No. 9 Cumberlands (Ky.) and No. 15 Menlo (Calif.) own the largest improvement within the poll, jumping three positions each, while Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) dropped from No. 11 to No. 17.
No. 12 Oklahoma City and No. 20 Life (Ga.) are this week’s newcomers. Life, which is in only its second year of existence, is making its first-ever appearance in the poll, while Oklahoma City was ranked previously this season.
Individually, Joe Cozart (157 pounds) of Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), Eric Lopez (165 pounds) of Menlo (Calif.), Brock Gutches (174 pounds) of Southern Oregon and Jameel Bryant (184 pounds) of Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), along with Martinez and Thompson of Grand View, have been ranked No. 1 in every poll.
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 fourth regular-season poll will be announced Feb. 12.
Notes (all information dates back to 2000-01 season): Grand View’s (Iowa) No. 1 ranking is its 18th all-time, which ranks second of all programs since 2000-01 … The Vikings have held the top spot in 13-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. 5 Campbellsville’s (Ky.) and No. 4 Great Falls’ (Mont.) current run of 68-straight polls, dating back to 2005-06 … No. 3 Montana State-Northern is the only other school with at least 50-straight appearances (59) … 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. 4 (Jan. 22)
|Rank||Previous Rank||School||Total Team Points|
|1||1||Grand View (Iowa)||165|
|4||4||Great Falls (Mont.)||89.5|
|6||7||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||78|
|17||11||Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.)||32.5|
|18||T19||Dickinson State (N.D.)||31|
Others receiving votes: Midland (Neb.) 18; Concordia (Neb.) 12.5; Briar Cliff (Iowa) 8.5; Benedictine (Kan.) 8; Wayland Baptist (Texas) 8; Missouri Baptist 7; Jamestown (N.D.) 7; Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) 6; Northwestern (Iowa) 6; Hastings (Neb.) 5.5; Brewton-Parker (Ga.) 4.5; West Virginia Tech (W.Va.) 1.5.
Top-Ranked Individuals | Individual Rankings
125 – Ryak Finch, Grand View (Iowa)
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)