KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Matt Weber and Andrew Bartel both earned preseason No. 1 rankings, lifting the MSU-Northern wrestling program to No. 3 in the preseason coaches poll. The NAIA released the poll on Wednesday.
Weber, the former Forsyth High School state champion, earned 160 total points to earn the No. 1 ranking in the 141-pound weight class. Weber finished runner-up at the national championships in 2018, falling 6-4 by sudden victory in the title match.
Brandon Weber, who also earned runner-up honors last winter, is ranked No. 2 at 157 pounds. He fell in a 4-3 decision to Life University (Georgia) standout Nosomy Pozo, who tops the rankings this preseason.
Fellow Forsyth grad Chris Nile is ranked No. 4 at 174 pounds.
Bartel bounced back from a second-round loss in last year’s national championships to secure a fourth-place finish at 165 pounds. He’s the top-ranked wrestler in the class entering the 2018-2019 season, securing 158 points from the coaches.
Isaac Bartel, another key piece to coach Tyson Thivierge’s roster, enters the season ranked second at 197 pounds. Bartel placed third in the bracket at last season’s national championships, a 3-2 winner in the consolation match.
Four other Lights also secured top-20 preseason rankings, including Nick Kunz (No. 8, 125 pounds), Landon Bailey (No. 15, 133 pounds), Chase Short (tied for No. 19, 174 pounds) and Steeler French (No. 12, 184 pounds).
Caleb Schaeffer’s University of Providence Argos sit just one point behind the Lights, 125-124, in the preseason team standings. National runner-up Adrian Lyons-Lopez leads the way with a No. 2 ranking at 174 pounds. Former Great Falls High wrestler Casey Dobson is third at 157 pounds, while Shonn Roberts is ranked No. 6 in the 149-pound bracket.
Dobson placed third at nationals a year ago.
Other Argos ranked include Chris Mesa (No. 9, 141 pounds), Randy Keesler (No. 5, 184 pounds), Mathew Hopkins (No. 7, 285 pounds) Tyler Webley (No. 10, 184 pounds), John Hensley (No. 8, 197 pounds) and Michael Lefuel (No. 14, 125 pounds).
Grand View (Iowa), winner of seven consecutive national titles, enters the season ranked No. 1 for 46th straight week.