The Midwest Classic in Indianapolis, if everyone brings their starters, will provide some answers. With January approaching, coaches are also getting their lineups in order. Being among the top five in December is a bit easier than February and March.
1 ― Maryville (Mo.): The Saints seek a second straight Midwest Classic title this weekend in Indianapolis. Half of DII’s top 12 teams will attend. Question: Can anybody slow down 141-pound junior Nate Rodriguez, who has three Open titles to his credit this season?
2 ― St. Cloud State: The Huskys had eight champions in what amounted to an intrasquad meet over the weekend. The reigning champs are off the mats until 2016. The NWCA National Duals in Fort Wayne, Ind., loom large.
3 ― California Baptist: CBU finished 12th at the 2014 NCAA DII Championships, but dropped to 30th last March. A good showing at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, coupled with an appearance at the always tough Midlands to end December might have the Lancers ready to make some noise in 2016. Doing it in November-December is one thing; challenging in March is something completely different.
4 ― Nebraska-Kearney: The Lopers stay in-state this week, traveling to Ogallala to face Chadron State and York College for UNK’s first dual meets of 2015-16. The next significant test is the National Duals.
5 ― Mercyhurst (Pa.): A 40-4 win at West Liberty (W.V.) last week and a 42-0 victory over Seton Hill (Pa.) Wednesday has the Lakers at 2-1 with a big dual meet against Lake Erie College (Ohio) to start the new year. The National Duals will tell us a lot about last season’s fourth place NCAA finisher.
6 ― Pittsburgh-Johnstown: UPJ is unbeaten in duals and will participate in the Midwest Classic this weekend. Mountain Cat 184-pound senior Travis McKillop might get a chance to show he is the best at a weight class that might add Notre Dame’s Joey Davis in January.
7 ― Notre Dame College (Ohio): Falcon 133-pounder David Bavery has been good first semester and adds to an already stout lineup. Expect NDC to climb this ladder and make a run at the National Duals title.
8 ― Findlay (Ohio): The Oilers have the top-ranked 149-pounder in Nick Goebel and will also be in the field in Indianapolis this weekend. UF finished 28th at the 2015 NCAA Championships, but has a team this season that should be among the top 15. Expect plenty to be sorted out in Indianapolis.
Knocking on the door: Lindenwood (Mo.), Lake Erie College (Ohio), Augustana (S.D.), Tiffin (Ohio), Ashland (Ohio), Wisconsin-Parkside, Indianapolis