Jesse Delgado became Illinois' first back-to-back national champion in 56 years after winning the 125-pound NCAA title for the second straight year and enters his final season as the preseason favorite to complete a three-peat.
Flo Wrestling released their preseason rankings Monday and have ranked Delgado at the top. Rankings for each weight class will be released for the next 12 weekdays.
Delgado (91-13) has also won the Big Ten title the past two seasons with wins over top-seeded Matt McDonough of Iowa in 2013 and Nico Megaludis of Penn State a year ago. The senior grappler also defeated Megaludis 7-4 in the finals for his first NCAA title. In 2014, Delgado topped Nahshon Garrett of Cornell.
The junior Garrett is ranked second, followed by senior Alan Waters of Missouri at third, sophomore Joey Dance of Virginia Tech at fourth, and sophomore Thomas Gilman of Iowa to round out the top five.
Dance fell to Megaludis 6-1 in the third place match while Gilman was behind Cory Clark in the Hawkeyes' lineup. Clark placed fifth.
Other Big Ten Wrestlers ranked at 125
7. Ryan Taylor (So.) Wisconsin
11. Tim Lambert (So.) Nebraska
12. Nathan Tomasello (Fr.) Ohio State
13. Jordan Conaway (Jr.) Penn State
18. Connor Youtesy (So.) Michigan