In Division II collegiate wrestling, it does not take much — an injury, a missing starter — for the tables to turn in favor of an underdog. Of course, underdog should be used in a casual sense, especially in the DII ranks, as the difference between winning and losing is miniscule. If the NWCA Multi-Divisional National Duals proved anything, it's that St. Cloud State remains above the fray and that parity reigns supreme below the Huskies.
1 – St. Cloud State: Head coach Steve Costanzo’s Huskies (6-0) rolled through four duals to claim the Division II trophy at last week’s NWCA Multi-Divisional National Duals in Fort Wayne, Indiana. SCSU outscored those four opponents 136-32. Eight SCSU wrestlers are ranked among the top eight heading into this weekend’s Ranger Duals, hosted by Wisconsin-Parkside. Findlay (Ohio), Indianapolis, and McKendree (Ill.) are also scheduled to attend.
2 – Wisconsin-Parkside: The Rangers followed up a championship at the Midwest Classic with a solid showing in Ft. Wayne. UWP’s only loss came in the semifinals to eventual champion St. Cloud State. Gregg Lewis’ group hosts the Ranger Duals this weekend. After the two biggest tournaments of the season — the Midwest Classic and NWCA National Duals — it is obvious that UWP will be a player this March in Birmingham, Alabama.
3 – McKendree (Ill.): After opening with a loss to Pittsburgh-Johnstown, McKendree won three straight in Fort Wayne, including a victory over second-seeded Notre Dame College. The Bearcats beat Nebraska-Kearney in the fifth-place dual and get a shot at No. 1 SCSU at the Ranger Duals this weekend. McKendree also has duals with Maryville (Jan. 18) and Wisconsin-Parkside (Jan. 24) on the horizon.
4 – Nebraska-Kearney: The Lopers are 7-4 with two losses to Division I foes and losses to Wisconsin-Parkside and McKendree in Fort Wayne. UNK faces Lindenwood (Mo.) on Thursday and welcomes California-Baptist, Colorado-Mesa, New Mexico Highlands and Drury College to Kearney this Saturday.
5 – Upper Iowa: Heath Grimm’s Peacocks (6-2) wrestled nothing but close duals in Fort Wayne, eventually finishing seventh with a win over Mercyhurst (Pa.). After a four-point loss to Wisconsin-Parkside, UIU beat Tiffin (Ohio) and Maryville before an 18-12 setback to McKendree. UIU is at Minnesota State Moorhead on Friday.
6 – Maryville (Mo.): Wheeling Jesuit stunned the Saints in Ft. Wayne. Head coach Mike Denney’s MU team lost a round later to Upper Iowa to finish 1-2. The next two meets for the Saints are big ones — versus McKendree on Jan. 18 and at Wisconsin-Parkside Jan. 21.
7 – Notre Dame College: Like many of DII’s elite last week, Notre Dame College was bitten by the underdog bug in Ft. Wayne. The 2016 National Duals champions and second seed lost an 18-17 match to Colorado State-Pueblo in the quarterfinals then bowed out with a loss to McKendree. There are enough quality wrestlers on this team for a response against a good Ashland (Ohio) team on Friday.
8 – Wheeling Jesuit: The Cardinals make their first appearance in the DII Power Rankings after a big run in Fort Wayne. Only in its fourth year of wrestling, head coach Sean Doyle’s squad took out Maryville in the quarterfinals thanks in part to 149-pounder Dominick Nania. WJU’s losses this season are to DIII powerhouse Wartburg (Iowa) and SCSU last Friday. Up next for Doyle’s group is a trip to Ohio this weekend to meet Gannon and Lake Erie College.
Knocking of the door – Pittsburgh-Johnstown, Mercyhurst (Pa.), Colorado State-Pueblo, Ashland (Ohio), California Baptist, Tiffin (Ohio), Northern State (N.D.), Indianapolis