EDMOND, Okla. - The Newberry College wrestling team jumped three spots to No. 2 in the Division II Wrestling Coaches Association poll released Thursday, only one point behind the top-ranked team in the nation. Six Wolves are ranked in the top eight in their weight class.
At 5-0 in duals action entering the Central Missouri Duals this weekend, the Wolves are slated to be seeded second in the NWCA National Duals on January 12-13.
Newberry received three first place votes and 149 points, just behind defending national champion Nebraska-Kearney’s four first place votes and 150 points. Newberry’s jump from fifth to second in the poll is tied for the largest jump in the poll, with Colorado Mesa moving from 17th to 14th.
The Wolves’ individually ranked wrestlers are led by B.J. Young (Jackson, N.J.), who is ranked second at 141 lbs. behind UNC Pembroke’s Daniel Ownbey, mirroring the Super Region I rankings. The defending national runner-up has a 17-5 record on the season and has only lost two Division II bouts this year, both to Ownbey. Young maintains his No. 2 ranking from the last poll.
Also ranked second nationally in his weight class is 165-pounder Blake Ridenour (Maryville, Tenn.). This is Ridenour’s first national ranking from the coaches’ organization after beating the Nos. 2 and 3 wrestlers at the Newberry Duals. He is the top-ranked wrestler in Super Region One and has a 16-4 record this season after finishing in third place at the Midwest Classic. He is is ranked behind Notre Dame (Ohio)’s Joey Davis.
Ranked third nationally is Travis Sheehy (Suwanee, Ga.) at 174 lbs. behind UNC Pembroke’s Mike Williams and Western State’s Elliot Copeland. Sheehy has a 17-3 record and finished third at the Midwest Classic, with his only Division II loss of the year coming to Williams. Sheehy remains in third spot from the last poll.
At 125 lbs., Jeff Vesta (Manhattan, Kan.) makes his first appearance in the rankings at No. 5. The top-ranked wrestler in the region has a 16-4 record this season. He has only lost two matches to Division II wrestlers this season and was the runner-up at the Midwest Classic.
Taylor Knapp (Lawrenceville, Ga.) is ranked sixth in the nation at 157 lbs., dropping three spots from his previous ranking. He is the top ranked wrestler in Super Region One with a record of 12-4 after finishing in fourth place at the Midwest Classic.
Also breaking back into the rankings is Deral Brown (Elgin, S.C.) in the eighth spot at 149 lbs. Brown is also ranked No. 2 in the region with a record of 19-3 this season. He now has 120 career victories and is on a nine-match winning streak after going 5-0 to win the championship at the Midwest Classic.