December 8, 2011

Tornado Ranked in National Top-20 for First Time in Program History

BRISTOL, Tenn. – The NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches' Association released its newest rankings on Wednesday. King College has earned a spot inside the top-20 in the national poll for the first time in program history, ranking 15th in the country and housing one nationally-ranked grappler.

Complete National Rankings - click here
Complete Regional Rankings - click here

King was tabbed 15th in the nation by the Coaches Association and jumped three teams who had been ranked at that spot or better in the previous rankings. They jumped Maryville University (Mo.), who hosted the open tournament King most-recently participated in, and regional opponent Findlay (Ohio). They were the second unranked team to earn a spot in the top-20, joining Colorado-Mesa who was placed No. 18 in the poll.

"I feel like the guys really earned this ranking," said Head Coach Nate Moorman. "It is really good to get recognition for the hard work they are putting into this season. The season is still young.  We have to continue to prove on the mats how tough and skilled we are but we feel like we can compete with any of the top teams in the country."

Regional rival Limestone College fell out of the top-20 though received votes in the national poll.

Frank Morgan (Maynardville, Tenn.) remained nationally ranked in the 197 pound division, retaining his No. 6 spot in the individual rankings. Morgan's last action was at the Hokie Open, on Nov. 6 where he went 2-1 before losing the tournament's eventual champion in double overtime, 5-4. Morgan will be back on the mat for the Midwest Classic on Dec. 18-19 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

In the Super Region 2 rankings, King has moved up into the third spot behind Central Oklahoma and Ashland (Ohio). Central Oklahoma is ranked seventh in the nation while Ashland resides in the No. 10 spot, nationally.

King placed one wrestler in the region's top-eight of each of the 10 weight classes, ranging from 125 to 285 pounds. Patrick Spano (Tampa, Fla.) has been bumped up to No. 2 in the region at 165 pounds after medaling three times in the first month of competition. Frank Morgan continues to hold down the No. 2 spot at the 197-pound division and at 184 pounds teammates Brandon Tressler (Orlando, Fla.) and Dakota Moore (Pemberton, N.J.) share the second spot after impressive starts.

Three Tornado wrestlers were tabbed fourth in their respective weight classes. Tywan Claxton was represents King at the 141-pound weight class after defeating Newberry's B.J. Young in recent competition. Nick Stella was ranked fourth in the 149-pound class while D'Marcus Spencer (Indianapolis, Ind.) earned a fourth place spot after going 6-3 and placing second in the King Open.

Jerrelle McCabe (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Dondricus Anderson (Macon, Ga.) both earned fifth place rankings at 125 pounds and 285 pounds, respectively, while Jon Forbes (Miami, Fla.) ranks sixth in the 174-pound weight class.

"It's been really great to know no matter what group of guys we take to a tournament that they thrive and represent the team well," said Moorman. "We still have a lot of work to do in getting better. We have made a lot of progress with the guys buying into the system and committing to their training, but now we enter a new phase of the season and they know they need to individually break out as we move forward."

King has participated in four open tournaments and one dual meet through the first month of the season, sporting 13 medalists along the way. King featured a division champion in Patrick Spano who took the title at 165 pounds in the King Open (Nov. 13) and a total of nine medalists in their last two tournaments, combined.

Recently, Dakota Moore finished third at the 184-pound division at the Maryville Open while Spano continued his success with a fourth place finish at the 165-pound division. In their first dual meet of the season against local rival East Tennessee State University, the Tornado demonstratively shut out the Bucs, 56-0.

Moorman continued, "We know that the next stretch of our season is going to be extremely challenging which will push our guys physically and mentally. We just need to take every meet as an opportunity to improve for the postseason, which is most important."

The Tornado will take to the mats next on Dec. 18-19 at the Midwest Classic, held in Indianapolis, Indiana. It will be their last meet prior to the turn of the New Year and before the NCAA Division II National Duals (Chicago, Ill.).