NWCA Division II releases third regular season poll
by Nate Naasz, NWCA
Manheim, PA – There is a new #1 in the NCAA Division II wrestling world heading into Super Regionals, with Nebraska-Kearney jumping from #3 to the #1 spot in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Division II Rankings, released Friday morning by the Association.
The Lopers moved to the top spot with 92 total points behind nine ranked wrestlers, with the only weight class not featuring a Nebraska-Kearney wrestler being heavyweight. Matt Malcom leads the ranked Lopers, sitting atop the 165 weight class. The nine ranked UNK wrestlers are also most by any team in the poll, with #4 Gannon also putting nine wrestlers in the individual rankings.
Lindenwood moved into the #2 spot with 78 total points, with previous top-ranked St. Cloud State in the three-spot with 73 points. Gannon (65 points) and McKendree (64 points) held their rankings at #4 and #5, respectively, while Central Oklahoma, Ashland, West Liberty, Adams State and Mercyhurst round out the top 10.
There were two changes in #1 ranked individuals, with new top-ranked wrestlers at 125 and 165. At 125, Mason Turner of Fort Hays State took over the top spot, after a pin of previous #1 Josh Portillo in dual action Feb. 11. At 165, a previous national champion in Matt Malcom of Nebraska-Kearney is the new top-ranked wrestler. Malcom, the 2019 NCAA Division II champion at 157, was previously ranked #2 at 165.
At 133, St. Cloud’s Garrett Vos held onto the top spot after going 4-0 during the shortened season, while Newberry’s Isaih Royal closed out his regular season 5-0 with four bonus point wins to stay atop the 141 individual rankings. Gavin Londoff (6-0) of Lindenwood held onto the #1 spot at 149, while Findlay’s James Wimer carries a 7-0 record with five bonus point wins into the Super Region III tournament as #1 at 157.
Following Malcom at 165, another Lindenwood Lion in Abner Romero tops the 174 top 12, with the Fresno City College transfer closing out his regular season at 5-0. Last year’s NWCA DII Wrestler of the Year, Heath Gray of Central Oklahoma, picked up where he left off a season ago, posting a 6-0 record of all bonus point wins. Ryan Vasbinder of McKendree held his #1 spot at 197, with the 2020 NCAA DII leader in tech falls closing out his season 5-0 with all five victories coming with bonus points. Two-time National Finalist Kameron Teacher of St. Cloud State rounds out the #1s, with the Husky heavyweight also undefeated on the year at 6-0 heading into the postseason.
Twenty-six of the 120 ranked individual wrestlers come from Super Region 4, while seven of the Top 25 teams also come from Super Region 4 to lead all regions. Super Region 3 comes in second with six ranked teams and 19 total ranked wrestlers. The Great Lakes Valley Conference has the most of its member institutions ranked, with five of the Top 25 competing in the GLVC, including two of the top five in #2 Lindenwood and #5 McKendree. The GLVC also leads all conferences with 20 ranked wrestlers, three of which are #1 in Londoff (149), Romero (174) and Vasbinder (197). The Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association is next with four ranked teams and 19 total ranked wrestlers.
The postseason is on deck for NCAA Division II, with the six Super Regionals set to determine the 132 National Qualifiers to the 2021 NCAA DIvision II Wrestling Championships March 12-13 in St. Louis. Super Regional competition is set for Feb. 27 and 28 at campus sites in each of the six regions.