KANSAS CITY – The Bethany College wrestling program has taken great strides in its three-year existence.
The Swedes have earned the respect of the preseason raters as the team is ranked fourth out of 14 in the Central group, and has eight individuals ranked in the top six of their weight class.
Bethany has three wrestlers in the top four of their weight class in the Central Region. The Swedes also have two weight classes where they are represented twice, in the 141 weight division and in the 197 weight division.
The highest ranking for the Swedes was Zach Anderson as he was ranked third in the 197 weight class. He is coming off of a NAIA National Qualifying season in which he won 28 of his 44 matches.
Colt Rogers and Courtney Strauss were each given the nod to the fourth position. Rogers wrestles in the 141 weight class and Strauss wrestles in the 149. Both Rogers and Strauss competed at NAIA nationals last season in the same weight classes, and are each three-time NAIA National Qualifiers. Rogers boasted a record of 26-16 overall and 15-8 in the division. Strauss is the all-time fall leader in Bethany College wrestling history.
Three Swedes earned the fifth ranking in their respective weight class. Dane Edwards (141), Jonathan Blackwell (157) and Taylor Baird (197) are all fifth in their weight class. Last season, as a freshman, Edwards had a record of 12-17 and was 7-7 within the division. Blackwell, a NAIA National Qualifier, boasted a 35-15 overall record and a 22-5 record in the NAIA. Baird, who also qualified for nationals, finished the season with a 27-17 record and went 15-10 in the NAIA. He also made it to the round of 12.
Zach Eaton, who wrestles in the 165 weight class, and Spencer Wilson, who wrestles in the 184 weight class, round out the Swedes ranked wrestlers. Each were sixth in their weight division in the Central Group. Eaton was 17-16 overall and 10-6 in the division. Wilson, as a freshman, won 16 of his 25 matches. He also won 11 of his 15 matches in the NAIA.
"The Central group is a tough qualifier and we hope to make it stronger as we continue to make our push for greatness and climb throughout the year," said first-year head coach Cody Garcia. "Preseason rankings aren't always a great indicator of how the season will play out, but I think it shows the depth of the program and our ability to retain last years young team. In all honesty though, I think most of our guys would be disappointed if this was the qualifier results come February. This is a group that is starting to understand the opportunity they have and the commitment needed to take us to the next level. I can see with the intensity and purpose in our preparation that they understand the process to reaching our goals."
The Swedes will start of the year with the Swede Open on Nov. 8. Bethany was invited to wrestle in the NWCA National Duals held in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Jan. 9-10. Bethany will also host two duals this year, against Baker University on Jan. 30, and Benedictine College on Feb. 5.