Ashland University sophomore Joe Brandt (Versailles, Ohio) has been ranked first in the country at 197 pounds. The annual preseason rankings are conducted by the NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches Association.
"Joe's an extremely hard worker," said Ashland head coach Tim Dernlan. "He's a great person and a good example both on and off the mat."
Brandt advanced to the NCAA Division II national championships as a freshman.
"I was surprised he was ranked No. 1 because we don't follow the rankings very much," said Dernlan. "Joe always wrestles to his potential and that's always our main concern."
The Eagles were listed in the, "Others Receiving Votes," in the Top 20 poll. Defending national champion Nebraska-Kearney begins the year ranked first in the nation. St. Cloud State is ranked second and Central Oklahoma is ranked third.
"I think the rankings are accurate," said Dernlan. "We are going to be a young team and people around the country don't know where we stand. To be honest, I don't know where we stand. We have a lot of areas we have to work on, but I'm excited. I'm excited for the start of the season.
The Eagles start the 2012 on Nov.3 when they wrestle at the Eastern Michigan Open.