BRIDGEPORT — The Fairmont State University Wrestling team has been voted to finish sixth in the Mountain East Conference Preseason Poll, as announced by the league office on Thursday afternoon.

Under first-year head coach Colin Johnston, who took over the program in December, the Falcons return a wrestler in six of the eight weight classes from a season ago. Starters from last year’s MEC meet that will be returning this season include: Dylan Dennison (149), Cale McMurdy (157), Cade Moisey (165), Tucker Lawson (174), John Halajian (197) and T.J. Boyd (285). Halajian picked up a pair of victories at last season’s MEC Championship meet, while Moisey and Boyd each picked up one tournament win.

The Falcons will be entering their second season competing at the NCAA Division II level after relaunching the program in 2019.

West Liberty is the preseason favorite to win the 2021 Mountain East Conference wrestling title.

West Liberty finished atop the poll with 57 points, including five first-place votes. The Hilltoppers have three former All-Americans in the lineup this season, including a pair of national champions. Ty Warner (133) and Connor Craig (184) won NCAA titles in 2019, and are both ranked in the top five in the country entering the season. Cole Laya (125) is a two-time All-American is also ranked fifth in the country ahead of the season.

UNC Pembroke and Notre Dame tied for second in the poll with 41 points. The Braves, the defending MEC champions, had a pair of first-place votes, while the Falcons had the other. UNCP has a pair of nationally ranked wrestlers in Nick Daggett (125) and Logan Seliga (133) to bolster its lineup. NDC has a pair of All-Americans competing in 2021, led by heavyweight Jared Campbell and Kelan McKenna (141), who has earned the recognition twice during his career.

West Liberty (sixth), Notre Dame (15th) and UNC Pembroke (20th) are each ranked in the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) top 25.

Davis & Elkins checked in at fourth in the poll with 31 points. Alderson Broaddus was fifth (21), followed by Fairmont State (20), Wheeling (14) and Glenville State (9). The Pioneers are in their first year of competition.

The season is slated to begin on Saturday, Jan. 9, and the championship is scheduled for Feb. 6 at West Liberty’ ASRC. The Falcons will open the season with a tri-match at Davis & Elkins on Saturday afternoon. FSU will compete against Wheeling University and the homestanding Senators starting at 12 noon.

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