Each week, NCAA.com presents the Division II Wrestling Power Rankings. Here are the top eight teams for Week 14:
1 ― Notre Dame College (Ohio): The Falcons beat Maryville (Mo.) for the second time this season and finished the dual campaign as the only unbeaten in Division II. NDC also owns a dual win over No. 2 St. Cloud State and enters tournament time with a powerful lineup that includes five wrestlers ranked inside the top six at their respective weight classes. Jon Rivera (157), Joey Davis (184), and Garrett Lineberger (197) already own NCAA titles.
2 ― St. Cloud State: The Huskies’ only loss came at the hands of NDC. Five SCSU wrestlers are among the top six with sophomore Larry Bomstad making plenty of noise at 157 pounds after earning All-America honors as a freshman last March. Tim Prescott (125), Clint Poster (165), and Austin Goergen (285) are all title threats, Prescott winning a title last season. The 2015 team champions probably should not be considered an underdog heading into March.
3 ― Pittsburgh-Johnstown: Veteran head coach Pat Pecora led the Mountain Cats to national titles in 1996 and 1999. His 2015-16 version is certainly capable of making a run with senior Travis McKillop (184), Evan Link (125), and DJ Simms (285) leading the way. All-American John Blankenship (174) should not be discounted. UPJ was a disappointing 31st at last season’s NCAA meet, but enters the postseason with momentum after beating rival Mercyhurst last week.
4 ― Nebraska-Kearney: The Lopers rolled to another MIAA title, crowning six champions last weekend. UNK is poised to make another run with Daniel DeShazer (133), Keith Surber (141), Destin McCauley (149), Chase White (157), and Romero Cotton (197) each capable of major points in Sioux Falls. Throw in All-American Devin Aguirre (174) and Marc Bauer has a tough bunch.
5 ― Maryville (Mo.): On paper it is hard to imagine the Saints not being favored heading into the last month of the season. Maryville has nine All-Americans to choose from, but injuries have derailed Mike Denney’s group the second half of the season. Seven Saints are ranked among the top six, giving the preseason favorites plenty to be excited about.
6 ― Wisconsin-Parkside: Unranked and coming off a 33rd place finish at the 2015 NCAAs, UW-P head coach Gregg Lewis and Co. had something to prove. Nick Becker is 33-0 and ranked No. 1 at 174 pounds with All-American Ronzel Darling (23-2 at 125), Nick Fishback (28-3 at 165), and Montrail Johnson (25-4 at 197) all having great seasons. If there is a darkhorse entering regional competition, it might be the Rangers.
7 ― California Baptist: An early win over Mercyhurst propelled the Lancers into the national conversation. CBU has stayed there all year and has heavyweight Joe Fagiano, All-American Jacob Waste (184), and others ready to improve on last season’s 30th-place finish. Getting through a balanced Super Region IV is the next test for the Lancers.
8 ― Mercyhurst (Pa.): Despite a dual loss to Pittsburgh-Johnstown to finish 11-4, the Lakers may be a better tournament team with Francis and August Mizia, Jeremy Landowski (149), and Willie Bohince (125) each capable of earning a medal in Sioux Falls. Like UW-P, Mercyhurst might be a darkhorse entering March. They finished three points behind Maryville at the 2015 NCAA meet.
Knocking on the door
Upper Iowa, Lindenwood (Mo.), Minnesota State-Mankato, Colorado Mesa, Wheeling Jesuit (W.V.), Augustana (S.D.), Central Oklahoma