The National Collegiate Wrestling Association has formally announced the pre-season rankings for the 2018-19 season. Expectations are high for the Builder wrestling squad after a runner-up finish last season. The Apprentice School Builders will enter the season at the top of the rankings, followed closely by in-state rivals, Liberty University. The Builders has yet to top Liberty in a dual-meet or conference championship since Liberty joined the NCWA in 2011.
Defending National Champion Colton Messick enters the season ranked #1 at 125 lbs as expected. 2017 Builder All-American Anthony Monahan will be returning to the 125 pool and enters the season at #4. Contenders gunning for Messick's title include 2nd and 3rd ranked Deonte Carter of UMBC and Jacob Toledo of UCF, whom Messick narrowly edged in a nail-biter at the National Duals.
The field at 133 lbs has opened up this season, as Builder All-American Kolin Johnson starts in the #2 spot behind De'Ante Evans of Toledo. Evans, the 2018 runner-up, stopped Kolin's run at a title in the quarter-finals at Nationals in March. Expectations are also high for incoming freshman Matthew Farrar, as the VISSA State Champion starts his career already ranked #6.
2018 All-American Shalek Colon is ranked #3 in the 141 lb division. Rounding out the top of the rankings at 141 is returning runner-up Tyler Sage of Florida, and Wesley Hollingsworth of East Carolina, whom upended Shalek in the consolation semi-finals in March.
Senior Ty Boyd will look to close out his career as one of the rare four-time All-Americans for the Builders. Boyd sits in 3rd behind both returning finalists from 2018. Also joining the top 15 is Tyler Johnson in 11th position. The North Carolina state champion sat out his first season due to injury.
At 157 lbs, All-American Bryson Woody returns to the lineup from a season-long hiatus. Woody enters the season Ranked 6th behind Liberty junior Andrew Burgette. In their last meeting, Woody upended Burgette in the round of 16 at the National Tournament, avenging a loss from the National Qualifier. Also in the mix is Tristan Mabe, who led the team with total wins two seasons ago before injury also forced him to sit out last season. Both Woody and Mabe have many high-profile wins over quality NCAA opposition.
Chad Simmons appears to be the man to beat at 165 lbs. The 2018 runner-up at 157 lbs is the only multiple time All-American at 165 and sits at #1. Nipping at his heels is in-conference rival Peter Becher of East Carolina. Becher pushed Chad to the limit in their only meeting last season, only conceding defeat after a tightly contested overtime bout at the Builder Invitational.
Builders Dan Henson and Jeremy Mosely are ranked 6th and 12th respectively at 174 lbs. The Mid-Atlantic Conference is shaping to be very competitive at this weight as Liberty is returning two All-Americans, Sam Karel and Luke Ely. Henson defeated Ely in their first meeting by way of major decision. In their final two meetings, Ely adjusted his approach to "Hendo" defeating him by a single point each time, including the blood-round at Nationals.
Wes Sorey sits in 10th at 184 lbs. Sorey led the team in performance the first half of the 2017-18 season, but failed to make the podium in March.
Senior Stephen Francisco Sr. is also back in the ranks after taking last season off. Frankie enters the season ranked 5th at 235 lbs. His last action on the mat was an All-American finish at 285 lbs.
Newcomer Peter Cortapasso is also weighed with high expectations at 285 lbs. The freshman sits ranked #4 without having a collegiate match, however ALL of the contenders ranked above him are from nearby rivals Liberty, UMBC and Middle Tennessee.
Action on the mat starts for the Builders November 3rd at the Virginia Beach Nationals, located at the VB Field House.
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