Peacock Wrestling Ranked No. 6 in First Regular Season NWCA Division II Top 25

By Howie Thompson, UIU Athletic Information

The first regular season NWCA Division II Team and Individual rankings are out and the Peacocks are ranked No. 6 in the country with 46 points. The reigning NCAA Division II Champions from St. Cloud State University are ranked first with 99 points after grabbing the second spot in the preseason poll. McKendree University and the University of Nebraska at Kearney tie for second with 72 points in the poll, while the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown rounds out the top four with 68 points, after opening the year as the preseason favorite.

Three Northern Sun Conference schools are in the Preseason Top 25, while three more are receiving votes in the poll. The six NSIC schools include No. 1 St. Cloud State, No. 6 Upper Iowa, No. 8 Minnesota State University, Mankato, Northern State University (RV), Minot State University (RV) and Minnesota State University Moorhead (RV). The rankings are based on a tournament methodology, not a team's dual strength.

The Peacocks have opened their 2019-20 season with four tournaments including the Yellowjacket Open, the Millikin Open, the Luther Open and the Auggie-Adidas Invite. UIU wrestlers have posted 251 victories in the four events and combined have recorded a winning percentage of .686 in their 366 bouts.

The Peacock boast four individuals in the preseason rankings including a pair of NCAA Division II All-Americans in Nick Baumler (197) and Justin Folley (133). In addition to last year's Peacock All-Americans, Brock Benitz is ranked at 165 pounds, while Dalton Hahn is ranked in the 184-pound weight class.

Baumler, a two-time All-American at 197 pounds, takes over the No. 1 ranking in the first regular season poll. The 2019-20 NSIC Preseason Wrestler of the Year opened the season at No. 2, but his 11-1 start have given him the bump to the top of the list. The senior has posted seven bonus-point wins including six majors and a fall. His early season highlight came with a 5-3 decision over Connor Corbin of the Univeristy of Iowa.

Folley, ranked No. 4 at 133 pounds, is 12-1 on the year with three tournaments under his belt already. The senior has registered 10 bonus-point wins including four wins by fall, a tech fall and five majors. His only loss came in the first place match at the Auggie-Adidas Invite to Victor Gliva of Augsburg.

Benitz, who claimed the runner-up spot at the NCAA Super Region V tournament, made his first appearance at the NCAA Championships last season. The Mosinee, Wis. product is ranked No. 4 at 165 pounds. He is currently 1-1 on the year with a pair of matches at the Luther Open. Benitz finished last season with a 16-7 mark and four bonus-point wins including 2 falls and 2 majors. Benitz fell one win shy of placing at the NCAA Championships and earning an All-American honor last season.

Hahn, a junior with the Peacocks, is ranked No. 11 at 184 pounds. The Loganville, Wis. product has had a solid start to his third season with a 9-2 record including three wins by fall and a major. Hahn won his bracket at the Millikin Open, claimed third at the Luther Open and fifth place at the Auggie-Adidas Open.

Upper Iowa's schedule now shifts into dual-mode with three straight battles against Northern Sun Conference opponents. The Peacocks will travel to North Dakota to face Minot State University and the University of Mary on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7. UIU will open their home schedule with a Thursday night dual, Dec. 12, against Southwest Minnesota State University in Dorman Memorial Gymnasium at 7 p.m.