OMAHA, Neb. — The Newberry College Wolves will start the 2012-13 wrestling season ranked no. 2 nationally and no. 1 in Super Region I in the Basford Division II rankings as released by D2wrestle.com Wednesday.
Four Wolves are ranked in the top eight in their weight class in the national rankings, while nine of the 10 weight classes are in the top eight in the regional rankings.
Nationally, the Wolves are only behind Central Oklahoma and are one spot ahead of defending national champions Nebraska-Kearney. Newberry finished fifth at the Division II National Championships in 2012 and were the NWCA National Duals runners-up.
In the region, Newberry will be shooting for its sixth consecutive regional championship as the predominant preseason favorite ahead of Pittsburgh-Johnstown and Kutztown.
Junior B.J. Young (Jackson, N.J.) enters the season as the national and regional favorite as the No. 1 pick at 14- pounds in both sets of rankings. He was the national runner-up at 141-pounds as a sophomore last year, following up a national runner-up finish at 133-pounds as a freshman. Young was 36-10 in his sophomore campaign and is 70-25 in his career, on pace to challenge for the school’s all-time victories mark in his two remaining seasons.
At 157-pounds, Taylor Knapp (Lawrenceville, Ga.) is the top pick in the region and ranked No. 2 in the nation following last season’s fourth place national finish. He is only behind Dillon Berra of Wisconsin-Parkside in the national rankings. Berra defeated Knapp in the third place match at nationals in March. Knapp went 24-11 last season in his first season in the Scarlet and Gray.
Also in the top spot regionally and No. 2 in the nation is Travis Sheehy (Suwanee, Ga.) at 165-pounds after dropping down a weight class for his senior season. The UNC Greensboro transfer went 36-12 in his first season at Newberry, finishing as an All-American at 174-pounds in sixth place at nationals. Findlay’s Mason True - last year’s national runner-up at that weight class - is the only wrestler ahead of him in the national rankings.
A newcomer is in the top eight nationally is 125-pounder Jeff Vesta (Manhattan, Kan.), who is ranked eighth nationally and second regionally at 125-pounds The junior went 38-7 in his sophomore season at Neosho County CC in Kansas on his way to a junior college national championship. He was also an NJCAA All-American as a freshman.
Noted as a wrestler to watch in the national rankings and third in the region at 149-pounds is Deral Brown (Elgin). The senior was in the midst of one of the best seasons in the nation last year before seeing his run cut short by an injury at the regional tournament. He is one of only five wrestlers in program history with 100 career victories.
Joey Grisko (Gloucester Township, N.J.) is ranked fourth in the region at 197-pounds, Jared Holliday (Burlington, N.J.) is ranked fifth in the region at 174-pounds, Mitch Brown (Omaha, Neb.) is ranked sixth in the region at 184-pounds and Matt Wade (Easton, Md.) is ranked sixth regionally at 285-pounds.
The Wolves kick off the season in two weeks, with the split squad competing at The Citadel Open in Charleston on Saturday, Nov. 3, and the Virginia Tech Hokie Open in Salem, Va., on Sunday, Nov. 4.