It's been nearly three decades since the Wartburg wrestling team failed to capture a conference championship.

Entering the 2019-20 season, the Knights have won an unprecedented 27-straight league titles. The last time Wartburg didn't finish in first place was in 1992.

This year, coaches in the American Rivers Conference (ARC) believe that streak is coming to an end. They have picked Loras to dethrone the Knights, according to the preseason poll released by the league on Wednesday.

The Duhawks earned the No. 1 spot in the survey by garnering 61 points and five first-place votes. Wartburg was picked for a second-place finish with 59 points and four first-place votes.

Expectations are extremely high for Loras this season, following a second-place finish at the NCAA Championships in March. The Duhawks ended their 2018-2019 campaign with an overall dual meet record of 13-2, including a 7-1 ARC mark. They wrestled Wartburg for the league championship in Dubuque, but fell to the Knights 23-16.

Wartburg -- winners of an NCAA Division III record 14 national titles, including seven of the last nine -- is coming off an uncharacteristic sixth-place finish at the national championships. The Knights finished 16-1 overall last season, and won all eight of their conference dual meets.

Coach Eric Keller's team begins its battle to remain No. 1 in the American Rivers Conference on Nov. 9, when Wartburg opens the 2019-20 season with a dual meet at Nebraska Wesleyan. Loras begins its upcoming campaign at home on Nov. 7, hosting Buena Vista. The Duhawks and Knights wrestle in Waverly on Feb. 14, in the last dual meet of the season for both teams.

A conference championship would be uncharted territory for Loras. The Duhawks have never won a league title and haven't beaten the Knights since Jan. 23, 1992. Wartburg is currently on a streak of 213 consecutive conference dual wins, a run of success that began on Feb. 1, 1994, with a victory over Luther.

Video: Courtesy of Wartburg College via YouTube


AMERICAN RIVERS CONFERENCE PRE-SEASON WRESTLING POLL
TEAM (First-Place Votes)Points
LORAS (5)61
WARTBURG (4)59
COE50
CENTRAL41
LUTHER38
DUBUQUE27
NEBRASKA WESLEYAN23
BUENA VISTA14
SIMPSON