ADRIAN, Mich. — The women's wrestling team continues to climb in the Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association national rankings.
The Bulldogs come in at No. 18 as a team in the most recent rankings after holding the No. 20 spot in the preseason rankings. This is the highest AC has been ranked by the WCWA, as the Black and Gold peaked at No. 23 last year.
"The preseason rankings are always based on best guesses," said Head Coach Cliff Cushard. "This first actual ranking is based on performance. I believe we moved up a couple of spots now because other coaches have seen us wrestle and place many wrestlers at tournaments, have seen us go 3-0 in duals and they know that we can compete at a higher level. We've proven it and it's nice to see that reflected in the rankings."
Wayland Baptist leads the rankings, followed by McKendree University and Simon Fraser at second and third. Emmanuel College is ranked fourth, while King University rounds out the top-five.
Freshman Zoe Nowicki is the lone individual Bulldog ranked. The Coldwater native is ranked ninth at 130 pounds. The WCWA doesn't allow for freshman to be included in the preseason rankings and so Nowicki wasn't included in the initial tally. She has compiled a 20-7 record so far this season. Nowicki's seven losses have come at the hands of U.S. and Canadian wrestlers who are ranked, and some of the wrestlers ranked ahead of Nowicki have a lot fewer matches and no head-to-head matches with her.
"Zoe is a special kind of wrestler," Cushard said. "She expects to succeed and works toward that goal every day. She's right there and to be there as a freshman is a big deal. Watch for her to do special things over her four years as a Bulldog."
"If Zoe keeps doing what she should then the rankings will sort themselves out," Cushard said. "To be honest, rankings are nice as a form of recognition from the coaches around the country but the only rankings that really matter in the end is the placings at the National Championships. If she places top eight, then she's a WCWA All-American. I'm hoping she gets listed on that ranking and has some company in those rankings from her teammates. We've got a good chance to do that this year."
The Bulldogs are off until Dec. 14-15 when they head to the West Coast Tournament of Champions in Rocklin, California.
"We work to peak at the end of the season - for the WCWA National Championships," Cushard said. "Everything up until that point is just a tune up. We are constantly improving and I definitely expect us to continue to climb in the team rankings."
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