KANSAS CITY — Southern Oregon wrestling will once again open a season as the team to beat in the NAIA.
The Raiders topped the NAIA Wrestling Coaches' Preseason Top 20 Poll for the second consecutive season, the national office announced Wednesday.
SOU led the preseason poll last season before finishing second at the NAIA National Tournament with three individual champions. Three Raiders rank atop their respective weight classes in the preseason poll, led by two-time national champion Mitchell Lofstedt in the 125-pound weight class. Jimmy Eggemeyer tops the rankings at 149 pounds after finishing second at the national meet last season and Brock Gutches returns for his sophomore season looking to defend his 2012 championship in the 174. He leads the preseason rankings as well.
Twelve total Raiders received preseason recognition in the individual rankings to total 139 team points. That point value gave Southern Oregon a lead of almost 45 points over second-ranked Campbellsville, which tallied 94.5 points. Defending national champion Grand View ranks third (93), followed by Baker (71.5) and Cumberlands (68) to round out the top five.
Southern Oregon hosts its annual Red & Black Intrasquad on Nov. 7.
SOU CROSS COUNTRY — At Ashland, Southern Oregon will travel to Corvallis Friday for the Oregon State Beaver Invitational, the Raiders' final meet before the Cascade Conference Championships on Nov. 3.
The Southern Oregon men won the Cascade Conference Preview last weekend, while the women's squad finished in sixth place.