Cumberland moved up three spots in the first regular-season edition of the NAIA wrestling coaches’ top 20 poll, the national office announced this week.
Six grapplers – Billy Ward, Steven Sandefer, Kirk Johnson, Zeke Hunt, Cody Linton and Scott Stewart – are all ranked individually in their respective weight classes.
The Bulldogs have won three straight dual matches, defeating Anderson, Shorter and Middle Tennessee State in the last six days. The team’s three dual losses have all come against Division I schools.
Ward has compiled a 9-2 mark thus far this season, including victories over Chattanooga’s Nick Soto, Appalachian State’s Vito Pasone and Shorter’s Clint Jones. The Buena, N.J., native was unranked in the Preseason Poll before moving up to No. 4 in the first regular season ranking.
Sandefer is ranked 11th at 157, registering a 5-4 mark thus far in 2013. The Mishawaka, Ind., native has posted wins against Campbellsville’s Joe Whalen and Jacob Stephens from the University of the Cumberlands.
Johnson moved into the rankings at No. 16 at 165 after winning after an individual title at the Patriot Open earlier this month. The Indianapolis, Ind., native defeated Anderson’s Eric DeAngelis as well as Lindsey Wilson’s Zach McCormick and Campbellsville’s Treyvonta Rhodes.
Hunt retained his No. 5 ranking nationally at 174, recording four straight wins to claim and individual championship at the Patriot Open as well. The Dacula, Ga., native has posted wins over Chattanooga’s Barrett Walthall and teammate Jacob Shirley.
Linton moved up one spot to No. 2 nationally at 184 and won his only match of the year over Appalachian State’s Alex Kruklinski.
Stewart is ranked 15th this week at 197, collecting a 6-4 mark this far this season. The Kenova, W.Va., native has defeated Lindsey Wilson’s Jake Maupin, Chattanooga’s Scott Boykin and Shorter’s Andrew Ewers.
Cumberland will participate in the Shorter Open in Rome, Ga., as well as the Middle Tennessee Duals in Smyrna today and play host to Life this coming Tuesday at 6 p.m. in a dual match.