KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Montana State Northern wrestlers Nick Kunz and Isaac Bartel are both top ranked in the first NAIA wrestling poll of the 2020 season.
Kunz, a senior, is No. 1 at 125 pounds. Kunz, a three-time State AA placer for Helena Capital, was the NAIA national champion at 125 pounds last year.
Bartel, a senior from Mason City, Iowa, is No. 1 at 197 pounds. Bartel placed second at the national meet last year for the second consecutive season at 197 pounds. He was third at 197 pounds at nationals as a true freshman.
As a team, the Lights are rated 12th. Grand View (Iowa), the nine-time defending champion, is ranked first. The Lights were 12th at the national meet last year.
The University of Providence, which finished 11th at nationals last season, wasn't ranked. According to Providence SID Alex Semadeni the Argos aren't eligible to be in the national rankings as their season't hasn't officially been certified yet. All UP students are learning online this semester and athletes aren't on campus at this time. Semadeni said the school hopes to have the men's and women's wrestling squads and men's and women's basketball teams back on campus in early December. Once on campus, the wrestlers will be able to complete the NAIA COVID-19 protocols, have their season certified and be eligible to be in the rankings.
The Argos first competition is set for Jan. 6, 2021 in Raid City, South Dakota, for the Rapid City Duals. Semadeni said the plan is for UP to offer on-campus learning in the second semester, along with an option for remote learning; and athletes who plan on competing in the winter and spring will attend classes on campus.
Other ranked Lights included Clayton Currier, 18th at 141; Chase Short, 10th at 174; and Steeler French, 14th at 184. Short is a senior from Great Falls and French is a redshirt senior from Choteau.
Currier was a four-time State B-C champion at Colstrip from 2014-17.
Martin Wilkie was listed in the national rankings as 16th at 141 pounds for the Lights, but the four-time state champion for Havre has decided not to wrestle and is pursuing other interests according to Northern coach Tyson Thivierge.
The Lights' first competition is set for Dec. 19 in Seward, Nebraska.