EUCLID, OH - The Notre Dame Wrestling Falcons have been a national powerhouse in small-college wrestling for several years. But the 2010 and 2011 NAIA and 2012 National Collegiate Wrestling Association national champions are now officially on the radar of NCAA Division II coaches, fans and media outlets.
Just days after notching an impressive runner-up finish at the National Wrestling Coaches Association NCAA-II National Duals, Notre Dame was tabbed as the No. 2 team in the nation in an NWCA coaches’ poll. NDC earned 152 points in the poll, just eight behind St. Cloud State (Minn.), the team that ousted the Falcons in last week’s (Jan. 12-13) National Duals. With that nod from coaches from around the country, Notre Dame vaulted from seventh to second in the rankings.
Six Falcon grapplers were individually ranked in the poll, including freshman sensation Joey Davis, who was tabbed as the nation’s No. 1 at 165 pounds. Davis has yet to lose a collegiate bout -- he’s 19-0 on the season, and that unblemished record includes a 4-0 mark at last week’s National Duals. The Compton, Calif., native had a pin and two major decisions in that quartet of bouts, and the performance earned him the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestler for Division II (the event was a multi-divisional tournament featuring the top-16 teams across several levels of small-college wrestling).
Davis and the Falcons have made their ascent to the top ranks of NCAA-II a quick one; this season is the program’s first as a full-fledged NCAA squad. Notre Dame was an NAIA program from 2006, when the program was launched, until last season when it competed as a provisional NCAA-II member. So the Falcons have earned their way to No. 2 in D-II in just a little over two months on the mats.
NDC’s other ranked grapplers in the Jan. 16 coaches’ poll: sophomore Maurice Miller (No. 8 at 141 pounds), sophomore Jonatan Rivera (No. 4 at 149), senior Jeffery Pelton (No. 7 at 157), junior Eric Burgey (No. 3 at 174), junior Orlando Scales (No. 5 at Hwt.).
Those individual accolades certainly spell depth for the Wrestling Falcons, and there appears to be more on the horizon -- in September, a Wrestling USA Magazine article ranked NDC's 2012-13 newcomers as the top non-Division I recruiting class in the nation. The article lauded Head Coach Frank Romano for “establishing the Notre Dame program as one of the crown jewels of small-college wrestling.”
Those recruits are now on the mats for Notre Dame, and thus far they are turning those autumn words into winter victories.
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