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Defending Champions UCO Rank 3rd in Preseason Wrestling Poll

MANHEIM, Pa. (Oct. 30) – Defending NCAA Division II national champion Central Oklahoma isn’t the favorite to repeat in 2024, with the Bronchos coming in at No. 3 in the preseason poll released Monday by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

Lander topped the rankings with 82 points, followed by West Liberty (69), UCO (63) and St. Cloud State (56). The Bronchos ran away with their 16th national title last March, finishing 43 points ahead of runner-up Lander.

Teams are awarded points based on individual rankings and UCO has five wrestlers listed in the top seven at their respective weight.

Dalton Abney is No. 1 at 197 pounds as the senior star guns for his third consecutive national championship at that weight. Gabe Johnson came in second at 157 after finishing seventh last season.

The Bronchos also have 125 Studd Morris and 141 Dylan Lucas ranked fifth, while 184 Anthony DesVigne is seventh. Lucas finished third at 133 last season and DesVigne seventh at 174, with both set to move up a weight, and Morris was a national qualifier.

Defending champion and reigning Division II Wrestler of the Year Shawn Streck isn’t in the rankings since he must sit out the first semester due to Division II semester limitations.

“Preseason rankings don’t really mean a lot and they certainly won’t win any matches for you,” head coach Todd Steidley said. “I kind of figured that’s where we would be since they aren’t counting Shawn, so it is what it is.

“We’re not worried about polls and rankings. Our focus is on trying to get better every day and staying as healthy as we can. There’s a lot of good teams in Division II and it should be a dogfight next March, but I think we’ll be right in the middle of it.”

UCO was ranked fourth in the preseason poll last year and then went 13-1 in duals, with the lone loss to St. Cloud State in the NWCA Division II National Duals finals. The Bronchos won their third straight Super Regional IV Tournament crown and then blitzed the field in capturing the national championship behind a school-record nine All-Americans.

Central opens the season Wednesday, going to Little Rock, Ark. For a neutral-site meeting with Ouachita Baptist.

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