Nov. 1, 2010

Courtesy of Augsburg Athletics

The defending national champion Augsburg College wrestling team is the top-ranked squad in the preseason Division III national rankings, released recently by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Five Auggie wrestlers are ranked in the top three in their individual weight class national rankings.

The Auggies, who won their 11th NCAA Division III national title in the last 20 seasons in March, are ranked No. 1 ahead of perennial rival Wartburg (Iowa), Wisconsin-La Crosse, Coe (Iowa) and Ithaca (N.Y.) in the preseason top five. Two other Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference squads are also ranked in the top 10 -- Concordia-Moorhead is ranked No. 6 and St. John's is ranked No. 9.

Four Auggies are ranked No. 2 in their individual weight class rankings -- 125-pounder Josh Roberts (SO, Grand Forks, N.D./Central HS), 149-pounder Tony Valek (JR, Belle Plaine, Minn./Scott West), 165-pounder Orlando Ponce (SR, Hialeah, Fla./Hialeah-Miami Lakes HS) and 174-pounder Zach Molitor (SR, Cambridge, Minn./Cambridge-Isanti HS). Jared Massey (SR, Circle Pines, Minn./Centennial HS) is ranked No. 3 at 197 pounds.

Valek and Ponce are defending national runners-up in their weight classes, while Massey, a national champion in 2009, finished third at 197 last season. Molitor, also a two-time All-American with Massey, finished third at 174 last year. Roberts was a fourth-place finisher in his weight class last season.

Last season, Augsburg won the NCAA Division III national title, while also finishing a perfect 12-0 in dual meets. Augsburg claimed eight All-Americans and three national runners-up at the national championships, while also extending its streak of trophy finishes” - finishing in the top four in the team race - to 22 straight years, the longest active streak of any NCAA wrestling program, regardless of division. Augsburg has finished fourth or better nationally every year since 1989, and its 22-year streak is the second-longest top-four finish streak of any school in NCAA wrestling history, behind the 28 of Oklahoma State in Division I from 1929-59.

Augsburg opens its 2010-11 season on Saturday (10/30) at 4 p.m. with the annual open practice/fall banquet at Si Melby Hall. The competitive season begins on Nov. 20 with the Auggie-Brute-Adidas Open, also at Si Melby Hall. Augsburg will attempt to defend its NWCA Division III National Duals title on Jan. 8-9 at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

The NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional will be held on Feb. 26 in Sheboygan, Wis., and the NCAA Division III National Championships will be held on March 11-12 at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis.

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