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The Wrestling Mall tabs Minnesota No. 1 in Preseason Poll



MINNEAPOLIS - TheWrestlingMall.com (TWM) has announced its 2006-07 preseason NCAA Division I top 20 team and individual rankings.

Minnesota, the 2006 NCAA runner-up, is ranked No. 1 in the country by TWM. With the return of national champions Dustin Schlatter (149) and Cole Konrad (285), along with All-Americans Mack Reiter (133), and Roger Kish (184), and Big Ten champion C.P. Schlatter (157), J Robinson's squad earned the top spot.

Four-time defending national champion Oklahoma State, led by returning 165-pound national champion Johny Hendricks, is ranked No. 2.

Two Big 12 teams, Missouri, and Iowa State, are ranked No. 3 and No. 4. Ben Askren, the defending 174 pound national champ and a pre-season favorite for the Dan Hodge Trophy, returns for Brian Smith's Tigers. Iowa State will be led by first-year head coach Cael Sanderson, the Olympic Gold medalist who went 159-0 during his collegiate career for the Cyclones.

Michigan, Iowa, Penn State, Cornell, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania round out the top 10.

Read below for the rest of the team and individual rankings. Click on the link below to view the top twenty teams and top 20 individuals at each weight class online:

http://www.thewrestlingmall.com/htmls/news.asp?Cat=3&View=13397

Here are the top 20 teams and individuals.

1. Minnesota
If healthy come March, J Robinson, Dustin Schlatter, Cole Konrad and company should end Oklahoma State's title run.

2. Oklahoma State
If OSU wins it this year, will people start thinking John Smith can put together a title run like Dan Gable had at Iowa ?

3. Missouri
Best team in Brian Smith's tenure, best team in Missouri history? Time will tell.

4. Iowa State
The Cael Sanderson era begins with plenty of talent to work with.

5. Michigan
Many key wrestlers moving up weight classes for Joe McFarland's Wolverines. But one key member of team (125 pounder Mark Moos) is moving down.

6. Iowa
Tom Brands and Dan Gable are back at Iowa. The fans got what they wanted, but will that equal the immediate success expected?

7. Penn State
Great new facilities, top returning 197 pounder (Phil Davis), and talent throughout for Troy Sunderland's squad.

8. Cornell
Return of healthy Adam Frey (133), along with Troy Nickerson (125) and Jerry Rinaldi (197) and another top-10 finish appears in store for Rob Koll's Big Red.

9. Oklahoma
Sooners could be one of ten best teams in country, but finish second to last in their conference tournament.

10. Pennsylvania
A trio of Matt's - Valenti, Dragon and Herrington, lead Zeke Jones' Quakers on the mat.

11. Northwestern
With Ryan Lang (141) and Jake Herbert (184), Tim Cysewski's 'Cats have two national title contenders.

12. Hofstra
Exit Tom Ryan, enter Tom Shifflet. The return of Mike Patrovich (165) is a huge boost for the Pride.

13. Indiana
Lose two-time champ Joe Dubuque, but Brandon Becker and solid nucleus of young talent returns for Duane Goldman.

14. Michigan State
With Simmons brothers, team has two title contenders. If young wrestlers like Gomez and Cozart step up, Spartans could be top 10 team.

15. Edinboro
Lone undefeated team in Division I last year (12-0) finished eighth at NCAA's, but still overlooked as a national power. Tim Flynn deserves more credit as well.

16. Ohio State
Tom Ryan takes over Buckeyes program and enthusiasm is at a high across the state - but so are the expectations.

17. Cal Poly
John Azevedo's team looking to improve on last year's 23rd-place finish at NCAA's.

18. Central Michigan
Great dual meet team had disappointing 26th place finish at NCAA's last year

19. Lehigh
Considered potential "down" year for Mountain Hawks, but if wrestlers come through, top 15 finish won't be a surprise.

20. West Virginia
Brandon Rader (141) a national title hopeful at 141 for team flying under the radar.

125 Pound Rankings

ELITE EIGHT

1. Troy Nickerson, Cornell - NCAA runner-up as true freshman
2. Sam Hazewinkel, Oklahoma - Last chance at title for Sooners star
3. Nick Simmons, Michigan State - Finished fourth each of last two seasons
4. Chad Mendes, Cal Poly - Pac-10 champ finished sixth at NCAA's last year
5. Tanner Gardner, Stanford - Earned AA honors by finishing 8th last season
6. Mark Moos, Michigan - Keeping weight down, not talent or skill, will be biggest challenge
7. Gabe Flores, Illinois - NCAA qualifier at 133 last year drops down
8. Paul Donahoe, Nebraska - Won two matches at NCAA's, lost to Hazewinkel, Coleman Scott

BEST OF THE REST
9. Mark McKnight, Penn State
10. Mike Sees, Bloomsburg
11. Luke Smith, Central Michigan
12. Obe Blanc, Lock Haven
13. Pat Castillo, Northern Illinois
14. Chad Sportelli , Kent State
15. Angel Escobedo, Indiana
16. Sean Clair, Eastern Michigan
17. Javier Maldonado, UTC
18. Dave Tomasette, Hofstra
19. Tim Kephart, Missouri
20. Eric Stevenson, Oregon State

Analysis: Nickerson, Hazewinkel and Simmons are all capable of a title run - it could be a matter of who's healthy or who gets hot come March. But don't overlook Mendes, Pac-10 guys seem to be the forgotten ones. Moos, dropping down from 133, and McKnight - back from a redshirt season, add more depth to an already talented weight class. Flores is also dropping down after winning twice at NCAA's last year (one was by forfeit). Smith won first two matches at NCAA tournament last year before losing tough 6-4 match to eventual champ Joe Dubuque. He then seemed out of gas in a 14-5 loss to Tanner Gardner. Escobedo was a prized recruit for Hoosiers.

133 Pound Rankings

ELITE EIGHT

1. Matt Valenti, Penn - Returning champ is the real deal and capable of a repeat
2. Mack Reiter, Minnesota - Itching for redemption after tough semi-final loss last year; finished 4th
3. Coleman Scott, Oklahoma State - Finished fifth at 125, will be dangerous at 133
4. Tyler McCormick, Missouri - All-American ready to show Tigers have more than just Askren
5. Matt Keller, UTC - New coach Chris Bono excited to work with All-American
6. Darrell Vasquez, Cal Poly - Extremely talented and dangerous if he can stay healthy
7. Jake Strayer, Penn State - Won three matches at 2006 NCAA tournament
8. Drew Headlee, Pittsburgh - 2005 AA took medical redshirt last year with wrist injury

BEST OF THE REST
9. Robbie Preston, Harvard
10. Mark Budd, Buffalo
11. Adam Frey, Cornell
12. Joe Baker, Navy
13. Andrae Hernandez , Indiana
14. Ricky Deubel, Edinboro
15. Franklin Gomez, Michigan State
16. Nick Gallick, Iowa State
17. Zach Cunliffe, Rider
18. Mike Rowe , Nebraska
19. Jared Royer, North Carolina
20. Eric Albright, Virginia

Analysis: Valenti may have been a surprise last year, but he shouldn't have been, he's strong in all facets. Reiter is the bulldog of the group, and leaves it all out on the mat - which sometimes gets him in trouble. Scott moves up and it will be a benefit. McCormick, Keller, Vasquez, Strayer and Headlee - take your pick, any given day this group can knock each other off. Frey, Hernandez, Rowe and Gallick all come in highly-touted. Albright had 29 wins last year, can new coach Steve Garland work his lower weight magic with him?

141 Pound rankings

ELITE EIGHT
1. Ryan Lang, Northwestern - Highest returning placer finished fourth last year
2. Andy Simmons, Michigan State - Advanced to semi's last year, lost to eventual champ Nate Gallick, and Lang
3. Brandon Rader, West Virginia - All-American finished sixth last season
4. Nathan Morgan, Oklahoma State - Finished sixth last year at 133 for national champs
5. Alex Tsirtsis, Iowa - All-American finished seventh last year, lost to Teyon Ware in quarters
6. Max Meltzer, Harvard - Lost 8-7 decision to Lang in NCAA quarters last year
7. Derek Moore, Cal Davis - Pac 10 champion lost to Rader in quarters, then medical forfeited out of NCAA's.
8. J Jaggers, Ohio State - Only other person than Minnesota's J Robinson to go by 'J' in DI college wrestling

BEST OF THE REST
9. Don Fisch, Rider
10. C.J. Ettelson, Northern Iowa
11. Matt Ciasulli, Lehigh
12. Charles Griffin, Hofstra
13. Manuel Rivera, Minnesota
14. Dave Roberts, Cal Poly
15. Mitch Mueller, Iowa State
16. Vincent Ramirez, North Carolina
17. Brandon Carter, Central Michigan
18. Cesar Grajales, Penn
19. Michael Keefe, UTC
20. Kyle Larson, Oregon State

Analysis: The top three finishers from last year - Nate Gallick of Iowa State, Teyon Ware of Oklahoma and Cory Cooperman of Lehigh - have all graduated. Rader and Meltzer sometimes get overlooked because they are not in a "power" conference - but they are talented. Tsirtsis should be one guy who benefits from having Brands around, and a healthy Moore is dangerous. Rivera, 0-2 in last year's NCAA's, could be a sneaky All-American pick and is a key part of a Gophers team hoping for a title. Don't be surprised to see guys like Fisch, Ciasulli or Griffin on the podium as well.

149 Pound rankings

ELITE EIGHT

1. Dustin Schlatter, Minnesota - Don't expect sophomore jinx for returning national champ
2. Matt Storniolo, Oklahoma - Lanky and unorthodox All-American finished 4th last year
3. Gregor Gillespie, Edinboro - Surprised everyone by earning AA honors as true frosh
4. Tyler Turner, Wisconsin - National qualifier won two matches last year at NCAA's
5. Josh Churella , Michigan - Moving up from 141 should benefit 2005 All-American
6. John Cox, Navy - NCAA losses last year were to Ty Eustice (9-4) and Eric Tannenbaum (13-11)
7. Trevor Chinn, Lehigh - National qualifier won two matches at NCAA's last year
8. Troy Tirapelle, Illinois - Great Big Ten tournament, disappointing NCAA's

BEST OF THE REST
9. David Jauregui, West Virginia
10. Jordan Leen, Cornell
11. Jason Johnstone, Ohio State
12. Matt Coughlin, Indiana
13. Andrew Schlaffer, Maryland
14. Robert Sanders, Nebraska
15. Morgan Atkinson, Cal State Fullerton
16. Josh Wagner , Missouri
17. Cyler Sanderson , Iowa State
18. Aaron Martin, UTC
19. Carter Downing, Wyoming
20. Andy Keller, Central Michigan

Analysis: Schlatter, Storniolo and Gillespie stand out in this weight class. After that, it's wide open. Churella, like his brother did, should benefit from moving up, which could prevent the nagging injuries that have bothered him. Turner and Cox are not household names but are capable of big things. Johnstone is a darkhorse here and could easily be on the podium in March. Schlaffer's success is important for a Maryland team on the rise. Coughlin is a part of a Indiana team with lots of young potential.

157 Pound Rankings

ELITE EIGHT
1. Brian Stith, Arizona State - 2006 NCAA runner-up one of the best even though he doesn't get the credit deserved
2. Trent Paulson, Iowa State - All-American finished fourth last year
3. Brandon Becker, Indiana - Earned AA honors with seventh-place finish last year
4. Craig Henning, Wisconsin - Finished eighth last year at nationals
5. C.P. Schlatter, Minnesota - Defending Big Ten champion needs to put it together at NCAA's
6. Mike Poeta, Illinois - Poeta could be poetry in motion at this weight class
7. Matt Dragon, Penn - Won three matches in NCAA's at 149 last year
8. Travis Piccard, The Citadel - Redshirted last year, hopes to become The Citadel's first AA ever this season

BEST OF THE REST
9. Andrew Flanagan, Harvard
10. Matt Kocher, Pittsburgh
11. Michael Chandler, Missouri
12. Tyler Sherfey, Boise State
13. Nathan Galloway, Penn State
14. Steve Luke, Michigan
15. James Strouse, Hofstra
16. Zach Fryling, West Virginia
17. Will Rowe, Oklahoma
18. Seth Martin, Lock Haven
19. Ryan Morningstar, Iowa
20. Matt Hill, Edinboro

Analysis: Stith lost to Boise State's Ben Cherrington, 7-3, in last year's NCAA final. Big Ten is loaded at this weight with Becker, Henning, Schlatter and Poeta. Who will step up? Piccard, Kocher and Fryling all redshirted last season with high hopes of earning AA honors this year. Sherfey of Boise State is a guy to watch. Morningstar was a prized recruit with high expectations.

165 Pound Rankings

ELITE EIGHT
1. Johny Hendricks, Oklahoma State - Like him or not, defending champion is quite a talent
2. Mark Perry, Iowa - Down from 174, where he was All-American (third) last year
3. Mike Patrovich, Hofstra - Finished fourth last year at 174, new coach in Tom Shifflet
4. Deonte Penn, Edinboro - Guess who finished fourth last year and helped his team finish 8th in the nation?
5. Nick Baima, Northern Iowa - No. 4 seed last year injury defaulted out after opening round win.
6. Travis Paulson, Iowa State - Finished sixth last year, lost to Ryan Churella, 6-4, in quarters
7. Eric Tannenbaum, Michigan - Like Ryan Churella, moves up two weight classes from 149, where he was AA(6th).
8. Matt Pell, Missouri - 2005 184 pound AA upset in first round at 165 last year as No. 5 seed

BEST OF THE REST
9. Pat Pitsch, Arizona State
10. Steve Anceravage, Cornell
11. Keith Gavin, Pittsburgh
12. Rocky Cozart, Michigan State
13. Marc Harwood, Nebraska
14. Max Dean, Indiana
15. Larry Hall, West Virginia
16. Jarrod King, Oklahoma
17. Jake Donar, Wisconsin
18. Tyler Tisdall, George Mason
19. Dan Bedoy, Purdue
20. Dave Rella, Penn State

Analysis: Hendricks and Perry met in the finals in this weight class in 2005, with Hendricks winning. Perry is itching for a chance at redemption. Patrovich got a sixth year this year, big bonus for Pride. Baima had strong year last year until derailed by injuries. Pell was a monster at 184, but struggled in NCAA's down at 165. Tannenbaum moves up two weight classes and shouldn't miss a beat. After top eight, unsettled weight class with lots of movement likely in rankings.

174 Pound Rankings

ELITE EIGHT
1. Ben Askren, Missouri - Best wrestler in college wrestling looking to go undefeated again
2. Matt Herrington, Penn - All-American finished fifth at NCAA tournament last season
3. James Yonushonis, Penn State - Nittany Lion earned AA honors last year (8th)
4. Ken Cook, Cal Davis - Lost in quarterfinals last year to Jake Herbert (10-5)
5. Brandon Mason, Oklahoma State - Key to OSU's bid for fifth straight title
6. Matt Palmer, Columbia - National qualifier has potential to be in finals
7. Kurt Brenner, West Virginia - National qualifier won two matches last year
8. Ken Robertson, Eastern Illinois - The other Ken in the top eight lost to Ken Cook 6-4 in NCAA second round last year

BEST OF THE REST
9. Eric Luedke, Iowa
10. Gabe Dretsch, Minnesota
11. Donnie Reynolds, Illinois
12. Jeremy Larson, Oregon State
13. Nick Roy, Michigan
14. Blake Maurer, Ohio State
15. Brandon Sinnott, Central Michigan
16. David Helfrich, Lehigh
17. Matt Stolpinski, Navy
18. Shane Siebert, Oklahoma
19. Brandon Brown, Nebraska
20. Alex Maciag, North Carolina

Analysis This weight class is wide open - that is in the race for second place. Askren is one of the more dominant wrestlers in a long time, and if healthy should cruise to another title. Yonushonis, Dretsch, Luedke, Roy, Reynolds and Maurer will battle for seeding position during the Big Ten season. Not a real deep weight class.

184 Pound Rankings

ELITE EIGHT
1. Roger Kish, Minnesota - NCAA runner-up looks to get back to title match - and win this time
2. Jake Herbert, Northwestern - NCAA runner-up at 174 last season
3. Josh Glenn, American - Pinned Kish last year, may be bumping up to 197
4. Steve Borja, Virginia Tech - Looks to be first All-American for new coach Kevin Dresser
5. Raymond Jordan, Missouri - check out TWM archives for great story on this wrestler
6. Alex Clemsen, Edinboro - National qualifier won three matches at NCAA's last year
7. Vince Jones, Nebraska - Won two matches at nationals last year for Huskers
8. Joe Rovelli, Hofstra - Lost to Clemsen (5-2) and NCAA champ Shane Webster (17-7) at last year's NCAA tournament

BEST OF THE REST
9. Tyrel Todd, Michigan
10. Christian Sinnott, Central Michigan
11. Jake Varner, Iowa State
12. Rocco Caponi, Virginia
13. Louie Caputo, Harvard
14. Joe Williams, Michigan State
15. Tyler Bernacchi, Cal Davis
16. Mike Heist, Pittsburgh
17. Derrick Morgan, Lock Haven
18. Tony Rolen, Oregon
19. Chance Litton, West Virginia
20. Nate Shirk, Bloomsburg

Analysis: Kish, Herbert and Glenn are the cream of the crop in this weight class. On any given day, they could all knock each other off. There are some reports Glenn could be moving up to 197 this year. Borja, Jordan, Clemsen, Jones and Rovelli are all interchangeable, and will likely shuffle up and down the rankings all year pending on who knocks off who and wins what tournaments. Varner will benefit from working with Cael Sanderson and Tim Hartung and was highly-touted coming to Iowa State. Caponi redshirted last year but was a national qualifier as a true freshman. Caputo part of Harvard team that could surprise some this year at nationals.

197 pound rankings

ELITE EIGHT
1. Phil Davis, Penn State - Junior finished second at last year's NCAA tournament
2. Jerry Rinaldi, Cornell - Big Red big man finished fourth at NCAA's last year
3. Joel Flaggert, Oklahoma - Finished fifth at NCAA's last year
4. J.D. Bergman, Ohio State - 2004 All-American (3rd) looking to get back on podium
5. Wynn Michalak, Central Michigan - No. 1 seed last year lost in second round, but came back to earn AA honors (8th)
6. Chris Weidman, Hofstra - The guy that beat Michalak in that second round finished as All-American (6th)
7. Kurt Backes, Iowa State - National qualifier at 184 moving up
8. Matt Monteiro, Cal Poly - Talented national qualifier returns for Mustangs

BEST OF THE REST
9. Nate Moore, Purdue
10. Dallas Herbst, Wisconsin
11. Ryan Goodman, North Carolina State
12. Mike Tamilow, Northwestern
13. Max Askren, Missouri
14. Matt Cassidy, Lehigh
15. Daniel Erekson, Iowa
16. Daren Burns, UNC- Greensboro
17. David Dashiell, North Carolina
18. Jared Villers, West Virginia
19. T.J. Morrison, Rider
20. Jon Oplinger, Drexel

Analysis: Tough weight class, not only with returning All-Americans, but with national qualifiers. In fact Max Askren of Missouri, who redshirted last year as a freshman, is the only wrestler in the top 20 who did not qualify for the NCAA tournament. Unlike other weight classes, no clear favorite here but lots of depth and talent among top wrestlers.

285 Pound Rankings

ELITE EIGHT
1. Cole Konrad, Minnesota - Mat King Cole head and shoulders above rest of this group, heavy favorite to repeat
2. Bode Ogunwole, Harvard - Crimson big man finished 6th at NCAA tournament last year
3. Kirk Nail, Ohio State - Earned AA honors with eighth place finish last year; defeated Ogunwole, 4-3 at NCAA's
4. Matt Fields, Iowa - Injury forced him out of NCAA tournament last year
5. Spencer Nadolsky, North Carolina - Won four matches at NCAA tournament last year
6. Ty Watterson, Oregon State - NQ won two matches last year at NCAAs
7. Dustin Fox, Northwestern - No. 10 seed lost both NCAA matches last year
8. Dave Herman, Indiana - Won two matches last year at NCAA's, lost to Nadolsky, 3-2

BEST OF THE REST
9. Jared Rosholt, Oklahoma State
10. Andy Patrick, Boise State
11. Payam Zarrinpour, Sacred Heart
12. Adam Lopiccolo, American
13. Paul Weibel, Lehigh
14. Bubba Gritter , Central Michigan
15. Jon May, Nebraska
16. Kyle Massey, Wisconsin
17. Cody Parker, Cal Poly
18. Aaron Anspach, Penn State
19. Rashard Goff, Cleveland State
20. Zach Shaeffer, Pittsburgh

Analysis: Can anyone beat Konrad? That was the question people had last year with Oklahoma State's Steve Mocco - and Konrad proved doing the unthinkable can be done. Konrad, however, will be extremely tough to beat this year. Ogunwole is a solid No. 2, but the rest of the top eight will be battling for positioning and seeding (and the chance to be opposite Konrad come March). Big Ten is loaded at this weight class, five of top eight from conference. Confusing things even more is Nail, who lost in recent wrestle-offs to Corey Morrison. Rosholt is expected to be a more than adequate replacement for Mocco as the anchor for the defending national champs.
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