NEWBERRY — The Newberry College wrestling team will start the 2013-14 season as the No. 5 team nationally In NCAA Division II, with six individuals ranked in the top eight of their weight class.
Newberry’s nationally ranked contingent is led by 125-pounder Jeff Vesta, who finished fourth nationally in that weight class in 2013 with a 37-9 record and was the nation’s leader in pins.
Blake Ridenour is rated fourth nationally at 165 pounds He finished fifth in the nation last year with a 32-10 record.
Matt Wade is the fifth-ranked wrestler at 285 pounds He was a national qualifier in that classification last year with 22-11 record.
Taylor Knapp is the sixth-ranked wrestler in the 157 pounds class after a nationals berth last season with a 26-10 record.
Three-time national qualifier and two-time national runner-up B.J. Young is rated seventh nationally at 141 pounds after a 36-13 record last season and 2013 All-American Joey Grisko is also ranked seventh nationally after a 27-14 record last year.
The Wolves start their season on Nov. 2, at The Citadel Invitational in Charleston.
Notre Dame edged out the two-time defending national champions to earn top billing in the NCAA Division II preseason poll that was released Wednesday by the Division II Wrestling Coaches Association.
The Falcons earned six first-place votes and finished with 156 points to earn the No. 1 spot over Nebraska-Kearney, which received the remaining two first-place votes and ended with 151 points in balloting of head coaches from around the country. The Lopers have won the last two national titles, while Notre Dame finished a close third last year in its first season of Division II competition.
Central Oklahoma was third in the poll with 145 points, followed by St. Cloud State with 138 and Newberry with 128. The Bronchos came in fourth in last year’s national tournament and the Huskies were runners-up for the second straight season, finishing just three points behind UNK.
Rounding out the top 10 is Adams State, Upper Iowa, Pittsburgh-Johnstown, Ouachita Baptist and Indianapolis.
The 2014 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships will be held March 14-15 in Cleveland, Ohio.