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DWU football picked to finish third in GPAC

The Dakota Wesleyan University football team was picked to finish third in the Great Plains Athletic Conference preseason coaches and media polls Thursday.

The Tigers were selected to finish behind Morningside College and Northwestern College, two teams that beat DWU last season.

"It's a standard ranking when looking at last season," third-year head coach Ross Cimpl said Thursday.

The Tigers received 58 points in the coaches poll, one point higher than Concordia University with 57 points. DWU received 62 points in the media poll, which was voted on by the media members in attendance. Morningside was picked to finish first in both polls.

Last season, Cimpl led the Tigers to an eight-win season for the first time since 1992 and the third time in school history. Cimpl said he's happy with the progress he's seen since he took over the program in 2012.

"I think as a coach, you're never satisfied," he said. "But when you take a step back and analyze what we've done, I would definitely say the progress is a big positive. It's a huge step in the right direction, but this year is big for us to validate the progress. Are we a legit team or did we just get hot at the end of last season?"

The Tigers have eight seniors on the squad this season, and Cimpl said he's looking forward to having a veteran-laden group.

"This fall we have a lot less question marks in terms of positions," he said. "The quarterback spot we will have to decide, but other than that, there are a lot of returners. Our veteran guys need to play well and our young guys need to be comfortable. We're not counting on a lot of true freshmen to come in and play."

DWU plays seven of its 11 games at home this season and opens against the University of Wisconsin-Stout at 1 p.m. Sept. 6 at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.

GPAC coaches poll

(Place, team, points, first-place votes)

1. Morningside, 81, 9

2. Northwestern, 66, 1

3. Dakota Wesleyan, 58

4. Concordia, 57

5. Doane, 52

6. Nebraska Wesleyan, 51

7. Hastings, 27

8. Briar Cliff, 25

9. Midland, 24

10. Dordt, 9

GPAC media poll

(Place, team, points, first-place votes)

1. Morningside, 90, 9

2. Northwestern, 78

3. Dakota Wesleyan, 62

4. Concordia, 59

5. Nebraska Wesleyan, 55

6. Doane, 54

7. Midland, 31

8. Hastings, 30

9. Briar Cliff, 27

10. Dordt, 9

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.