The first official tournament of the 2019-20 College Dodgeball season will take place this Sunday at Michigan State University. With the season just days away, it’s time to take a look at the 2019-20 Preseason Power Rankings.
Note: this year the Power Rankings were voted on by the NCDA Content Team. Every member was given the opportunity to submit a ballot. Here are our final results:
1. Grand Valley State
2019 Finish: #2 in Power Rankings, 2nd at Nationals
After finishing 2018-19 at #2, Grand Valley State jumps back to #1 to start the 2018-19 season. While the Lakers will be losing quite a few top-notch players, they still return a strong cast of contributors who are poised to step up and keep GVSU at or near the top of the collegiate dodgeball standings. Josh Hill will take over as captain this year for the Lakers, after missing most of 2018-19 with a shoulder injury. He will be joined by a few familiar faces in the NCDA, as Ben Smart (2019 1st-Team All American) and Alex Jonauskas (2019 2nd-Team All American) also remain on the roster. Beyond those three, GVSU has plenty of depth. Nolan Stanko has been a starter since his freshman year in 2016-17, and will likely be one of the Lakers’ top arms this year.
Blake Clevenger is another strong thrower that will step into an increased role in GVSU’s offensive gameplan. Rising Sophomore Nick Hehl was a standout during his rookie campaign, and will likely be one of GVSU’s best all-around players this season. Collin Freeman enters his final year with GVSU as a much-improved veteran who will be key to the team’s success. Lastly, Coda Gallagher has been a streaky player the past two seasons for GVSU, but he is likely to become a well-known name this year in the NCDA. All in all, GVSU has plenty of offensive production to replace after last year’s graduating seniors departed, but the remaining cast of players is certainly enough to expect this team to remain elite. The question remains: is their ceiling high enough to earn a National Championship?
2. Michigan State
2019 Finish: #5 in Power Rankings, T-3 at Nationals
The 2018-19 season saw Michigan State improve enough to reach the Final Four at Nationals with one of the younger teams in the country. In 2018-19 their sights will be set on much loftier goals. The Spartans return the vast majority of their contributors from a year ago as they look to become the first MSU team ever to win a NCDA National Title. Captain Payton Schuster will lead the charge for Michigan State, along witha few other veterans such as Dennis Sullivan and Brent Weakland.
Don’t be surprised when the MSU sophomore class turns out to be a key part of the teams success. With players like Jacob Georges and Jack Hilt heading into their second year in East Lansing, there is certainly potential for this team to become even more dangerous. Michigan State should be one of the most talented teams in the country in 2019-20. If they are able to improve their overall team strategy and become a more consistent unit, don’t be surprised if you see them atop the rankings at some point this year.
2019 Finish: #6 in Power Rankings, T-5 at Nationals
The Miami RedHawks have exceeded expectations each of the past few seasons, and now enter 2019-20 as a top 3 team in the country according to our preseason PR. Captained by MVP frontrunner Tom Morand, this team has some star power at the top of their lineup. Look for Dom Tyburski, Kevin Corotis, and Kacy Kawell to also be big impact performers.
The RedHawks also will benefit from the arrival of grad student Reid Manger from BGSU. He will surely add some crucial experience and all-around skill to a roster that lost next to no one heading into this fall. Bottom line, the table is set for Miami to make a run at a National Title in 2020. They have the talent, they have the experience. Now, they just need to execute.
4. Central Michigan
2019 Finish: #3 in Power Rankings, T-3 at Nationals
Central Michigan enters 2019-20 as a top 4 team in the country thanks in large part to a stacked class of second-year players. Yes, there are some veteran headlines that will play a big part in this team’s succes such as Eric Nelson and Kyle Garner, but all eyes will be on second year players such as Jawanza Edwards, Jared Brown, Doug Daniel (each were 1st-Team All Rookie in 2019), to take the next step for this program. CMU won’t have it easy, as is seen by two Michigan schools being ranked above them on this list, but if the 2019 Semifinal with GVSU was any indication, this team has a lot of fight. Don’t be surprised when the Chippewas are neck and neck with the other top teams in the state this fall. If they can continue to play well as a team like they did towards the end of last season, 2019-20 could end up being the year they win their first title since 2011.
2019 Finish: #1 in Power Rankings, National Champions
Fresh off a national championship victory, the Tigers are ready to reload for the 2020 season. It’s fair to be cautiously optimistic about Towson’s chances during the upcoming season. They lost two of their strongest throwers in Jordan Watt and Tyler Schmitz this offseason, but still have solid pieces coming back to the team. The most impactful players this upcoming season will certainly be Colin Moerman and Jeff Hayden, but some lesser known impact players to look out for include Christian Cariello and Alex Hussey. With a hopefully strong rookie recruiting class this offseason, expect the Tigers to still be viable contenders in the league.
6. James Madison
2019 Finish: #4 in Power Rankings, did not attend Nationals
James Madison is a school which has earned the right to be called a “reload” program instead of “recover”. What I mean by that, is JMU pumps talent year-in and year-out fairly seamlessly. Since they’ve entered the league they’ve never finished lower than 8th in the country, and there’s no reason to doubt they’ll be successful during the 2020 season as well. They do lose some star players in what was a Senior heavy class last year, but they return a potential MVP candidate in Evan Eschenburg. Additionally, players such as Jason Souder and Jonathan Smith will provide the catching and firepower necessary for a top caliber team. One thing that stood out from last year’s team relative to the two seasons prior was their willingness to travel, and it certainly played a role in this team’s top 3 regular season finish. Expect them to do more of the same in 2020 and further develop their plethora of talent.
7. Saginaw Valley State
2019 Finish: #7 in Power Rankings, T-9 at Nationals
Jake Bruce and Josh Rick will be taking the reigns for the Cardinals heading into 2019-20, as they look to turn the page on another season where they had a strong team that was eliminated by rival GVSU at Nationals. SVSU enters this season at #7, lower than what many would expect from one of the most consistent powers in College Dodgeball. While the Cardinals may end up having the pieces to be a top 5 team, it is yet to be seen. SVSU will need to recruit well, and continue to develop their younger players. Look for Bryce Stevens to both become a household name in the NCDA this year. If the Cardinals can find a way to shore up the back half of their roster, they will have the talent to compete with anyone.
2019 Finish: #11 in Power Rankings, T-9 at Nationals
The Ohio Bobcats are another team (like Miami) who has continued to climb the rankings over the past few seasons. They enter the 2019-20 season as a top 10 team in the NCDA with hopes to take yet another step towards being an elite program after a 2018-19 season that was easily the best in program history. Players like Josh Warnecke, Zach Howman, Jacob Fleck, Dusty Moell, and Kyle Smart will all be key contributors once again in 2019-20, as this team will try to fix a few issues and turn into a powerhouse in the Ohio Region. Second year player Jake Larsen will be the headliner. He is one of the strongest throwers in the country, and will be key to the Bobcats’ offensive attack.
9. Virginia Commonwealth
2019 Finish: #10 in Power Rankings, T-9 at Nationals
VCU has consistently held its ground within the top 10 of the NCDA for the past 3 seasons. Even in a supposed down year last season they finished 10th and had a 3-1 showing at Nationals. This season however, expectations should be high for the Rams. They lost only one player from 2019’s team in Will Karns and return everyone else. That means Wayne Shortt is back, Kelvonte Nesmith is back, and, of course, Ike Fleckenstein is back as well. The Senior-heavy Rams will need to utilize their experience to the fullest to get higher than they’ve ever been before, and they’re certainly capable of doing that.
10. Bowling Green State
2019 Finish: #8 in Power Rankings, T-5 at Nationals
Bowling Green State enters the 2019-20 season in a weird position. Just like at the start of last year, they lose some of their brightest stars to graduation, so one would think they will have a big dropoff. But as we saw last year with their Ohio Dodgeball Cup victory and trip to the quarterfinals at Nationals, BGSU is a stable program that can reload talent better than many. Expect this squad to once again be a strong catching team, with a streaky nature that can help them pick up some wins over other top teams. Look for Owen Sill, Max Vincent, and Cole Wilson to lead the charge for the Falcons this year.
2019 Finish: #12 in Power Rankings, T-5 at Nationals
Maryland reached their first ever Quarterfinals during the 2019 season and finished as number 9 overall in the country. Last year’s team was a scrappy group that put together some impressive wins in tight moments. This was in large part to a large Senior class who was battle tested. Now that those Seniors are gone, it’ll be time for a new group to step up. For 2020, expect the main ringleaders to be Zach Fernald and Shawn Sullivan. The two players have been consistent leaders on the court for the Terps during their time on the team and we should see more of the same in the upcoming season. One area where UMD needs an upgrade is in their firepower. Fernald and Sullivan certainly plug that hole along with rising Sophomore Max Xuan, but they’re going to need more this offseason to keep themselves towards the top.
12. Penn State
2019 Finish: #14 in Power Rankings, T-9 at Nationals
With the departures of five seniors, most notably Jake Nasiadka and Ben Pazuchanics, Penn State will start the 2019-20 season with plenty of questions. Will this team have the top end talent to be more than an afterthought in the strong East Coast Region? Will the Nittany Lions continue to improve their coordination and strategy in order to become a legit top 10 team? Who knows what PSU will become in 2019-20. ONe thing we do know is they still do have some experienced players on their roster, including Jarod Baker, Adam Cook, and Trevor Scofield. Don’t be surprised when PSU is once again one of the most fun teams to watch in the NCDA. If they can continue to develop their younger players, this team will be one to watch.
2019 Finish: #9 in Power Rankings, T-9 at Nationals
Akron is ready to start a new chapter in 2019-20. The Zips lose their main nucleus of talent from over the past 4 years, but they do return a few studs. Look for new captain Jacob Weber to become a true star in the NCDA in 2019-20 after an offseason of perfecting his craft on the Elite Dodgeball circuit. Clay Egelston is another player to keep an eye on. He was one of Akron most clutch performers a year ago as a rookie. Akron will certainly be tested in the crowded Ohio Region, but if they can recruit and develop talent this year, they will be late risers in the winter semester.
14. Wisconsin Platteville
2019 Finish: #13 in Power Rankings, T-9 at Nationals
Not many teams finished off the 2018-19 campaign with as much momentum as UWP. This team showed up at Nationals and competed impressively. The class of the Midway Conference, look for the Pioneers to take another step towards National relevance in 2019-20, as they return nearly their entire starting lineup from last year’s young squad. Don’t be surprised when they go undefeated against other Midway Conference opponents, and make a few statements in their tournaments outside of their region.
15. Cleveland State
2019 Finish: #18 in Power Rankings, T-17 at Nationals
All aboard the Cleveland State hype train! CSU finished last year losing in the round of 32 at Nationals and at a modest #18 in the Power Rankings. Entering 2019-20, we have this team in the top 15. Cleveland State flashed their potential at times last year, keeping it close with some higher ranked teams throughout the year. They have a strong core of star players at the top end of their roster, but the question is, how much depth will they have? If this team can shore up the back half of their lineup, they have very high potential. If they can’t, we may be in for another season of CSU being a lower end Ohio school. We expect CSU to make massive strides in 2019-20.
16. Kent State
2019 Finish: #15 in Power Rankings, T-9 at Nationals
Kent State enters the year strikingly low in the Power Rankings at #16. The Golden Flashes didn’t have the smoothest 2018-19 season, but they do return some key veterans such as Riley Plyler and Tyler Miracle among others. Kent has the potential to be much higher on this list. Their fate will come down to two things: how well they can recruit, and how well they can develop the talent on the back half of their roster. If Kent can become a deeper team in 2019-20, they will have what it takes to compete with plenty of the other strong Ohio schools.
17. Ohio State
2019 Finish: #19 in Power Rankings, T-17 at Nationals
The Buckeyes enter the season ranked #17 in the country and #7 in an absolutely crowded Ohio Region. Ohio State will have a few veterans leading the way for them this year, with Dylan Greer and Ben Johnson both poised for breakout seasons. OSU’s success this year will be dependent on the depth on the roster. They will need a strong recruiting class in order to keep up with the other schools in Ohio.
2019 Finish: #17 in Power Rankings, T-9 at Nationals
Kentucky enters the 2019-20 season with a young core of players looking to take their team to the next level. The past few seasons have seen UK hover around the teens in the NCDA rankings, with a few strong wins along the way. The Wildcats will attempt to get back into the top 10 in 2019-20, with some key players like Daniel LaJeunesse Jr. and Matthew Hart leading the way. We predict UK to be the best team in the South this season, but they have a lot to prove if they want to convince anyone they are a top team in the NCDA.
19. North Georgia
2019 Finish: #16 in Power Rankings, T-9 at Nationals
Captain Royce Hogg will lead the way for UNG in 2019-20. He will have a solid supporting cast around with him including rising seniors Jordan Dacus and Luke Cheney, and two solid players in Jake Jarrett and Vince Bartolomei. The Nighthawks certainly still have the talent to be the best team in the South, but they will have some competition, including Kentucky, and the rapidly improving teams at NSU and GSU.
2019 Finish: Unranked in Power Rankings, did not attend Nationals
Virginia entered the 2018-19 season with plenty of hype. They failed to reach the expectations many had for them last year and ended up not being able to attend Nationals. UVA now begins this year ranked a modest #20 in the country, but they have the potential to finish much higher. All-East selections Zane Durbin and Jeremy Shaw, along with first team All-Rookie selection Jake Korman will lead the way for the Cavaliers this year as they look to compete in the ever-improving East Coast Region.