Cumberland dropped one spot to 10th in this week’s NAIA wrestling coaches’ top 20 poll and Jake Williams, Zeke Hunt, Kyle Delaune and Cody Linton are all ranked in their individual weight classes, the national office announced late Wednesday.
The Bulldogs have been ranked in the top 10 nationally in each of the last five national polls dating to December 11 and have wins this season over Montana State-Northern and Great Falls, currently ranked third and sixth, respectively.
Williams swept through the 149 bracket at last week’s NAIA East Region Qualifier, pinning West Virginia Tech’s Christopher Rapley at 1:07 posting a 17-10 decision versus Steve Melara from the University of the Cumberlands. He recorded a 12-3 major decision over Campbellsville’s Sam Conners in the semifinals and outlasted Campbellsville’s fourth-ranked Kyle Terry, 10-8, in the first period of sudden victory in the finals.
The Rio Rancho, N.M., native has posted a 32-2 overall mark this year, including 7-0 in dual matches. He moved up one spot to second in the nation in this week’s rankings.
Hunt also won all three of his bouts at 174 at last week’s qualifier, registering a 14-3 major decision over Brewton-Parker’s Heath McGregor before posting a 7-3 Decision versus Lindsey Wilson’s Erick Gomez and recording a 3-2 decision against Indiana Tech’s 16th-ranked LJ Grayson in the finals. The Dacula, Ga., native is ranked fifth this week and owns a 24-9 mark this academic year.
Delaune was the surprise of the weekend, placing third at 174. He won his first two matches, pinning West Virginia Tech’s Colton Rowe at 4:08 and collecting an 11-4 Decision over Campbellsville’s eighth-ranked Travis McIntosh before dropping a 6-5 decision to No. 16 LJ Grayson in the semifinals. Delaune pinned McGregor at 1:20 and then registered a 9-5 decision versus McIntosh in the wrestleback finals. The New Orleans, La., native received his first ranking of the year at No. 11 and sports a 26-11 record this season.
Linton won three times in the East qualifier, pinning St. Andrews University’s Russell Lindsay at 1:49 before winning an 8-1 Decision over Eddie Bernal from the University of the Cumberlands. He posted a 3-2 Decision versus Life’s fifth-ranked Trey Hicks in the semifinals, getting an escape in first tiebreaker overtime, before dropping a 5-3 Decision to Lindsey Wilson’s top-ranked Jameel Bryant in the finals. The Winters, Calif., native is ranked second nationally this week and has posted a 16-3 mark this year.
All four of these individuals plus two wild cards – Jacob Shirley at 165 and Scott Stewart at 197 – received bids into the 57th annual NAIA Championships set for March 7-8 in Topeka, Kan.