EDMOND, Okla. — The Newberry College Wolves wrestling team earned its second preseason national ranking, as they find themselves in fourth in the preseason NCAA Division II Coaches Poll, which was released over the weekend.
Newberry is led by six wrestlers who are ranked in the top eight of their respective weight class in the coaches’ poll. The Wolves were previously rated no. 2 nationally in the Basford rankings.
The Wolves are behind defending national champion Nebraska-Kearney, national runner-up St. Cloud State and Central Oklahome, with the top five rounded out by Grand Canyon.
B.J. Young (Jackson, N.J.) earns his second preseason national favorite nod, as he is once again the top pick at 141 pounds 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.
Ranked no. 2 at 157 pounds is Taylor Knapp (Lawrenceville, Ga.), who is also ranked no. 2 in the Basford rankings 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.
Travis Sheehy (Suwanee, Ga.) is ranked third nationally at 174 pounds The Basford rankings have him listed in second at 165 pounds, making the senior a dominant force no matter which weight class he ends up in. The U.N.C. Greensboro transfer went 36-12 in his first season at Newberry, finishing as an All-American at 174 pounds in sixth place at nationals.
Three Wolves are listed at No. 8 nationally, with Jeff Vesta (Manhattan, Kan.) earning the distinction at 125 pounds, Deral Brown (Elgin) getting the nod at 149 pounds and Kyle Folk-Freund (White Beach, N.Y.) receiving his first ranking at 197 pounds
Vesta 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.
Brown 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.
Folk-Freund is a transfer from Nassau CC in New York and went 15-10 in his sophomore season and was an NJCAA All-American with a seventh place national finish.
The Wolves kick off the season next weekend, 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.