Bulldogs to close dual season at Morningside

By Jake Knabel on Feb. 7, 2018 in Wrestling

SEWARD, Neb. – A pair of teams tied in the conference standings will meet Thursday (Feb. 8) in Sioux City, Iowa, when Concordia and Morningside square off on the mat. Both teams will be competing a dual meet for the final time this 2017-18 season. The winner will move into a three-way tie for second in the GPAC while the loser will drop to fifth. Thursday’s action is set to get started at 6 p.m. CT inside the Hindman-Hobbs Center.

Second-year head coach Andrew Nicola’s squad is coming off a 21-16 win last week over Northwestern. While celebrating senior night, all four seniors in the lineup earned wins, including 125-pounder Jerry Stepps III. The St. Louis, Mo., native is a perfect 7-0 in GPAC duals. That record will be put to the test in an expected matchup with Morningside’s Keegan Hessler, the conference’s No. 2-ranked wrestler at 125. Nicola could fill his lineup with as many as six competitors who carry rankings at the conference level.

In this week’s new set of rankings, Bulldogs Giovanni Castillo (133) and Deandre Chery (174) checked in at No. 1 among GPAC wrestlers in their respective weight classes. On the national level, the following Concordia grapplers appeared in the rankings: No. 3 Castillo (133), No. 17 Chery (174) and No. 18 Josh Nelsen (184). On the flip side, head coach Jake Stevenson’s squad boasts the GPAC’s top-rated 149-pounder in Steven Garcia and four nationally-ranked wrestlers: No. 12 Hessler (125), No. 20 Dusten Reed (133), No. 4 Garcia and No. 11 Logan Moore (184). Morningside is ranked 19th nationally as a team while the Bulldogs are listed as receiving votes.

Both teams are 5-2 in conference duals. The two Bulldog defeats came at the hands of Midland, 31-12, and Briar Cliff, 33-14. Meanwhile, Morningside has suffered losses to Northwestern, 21-20, and Briar Cliff, 20-15. Thursday’s dual will lead into the GPAC tournament set for Feb. 17 at Hastings. Automatic bids to the national championships (March 2-3) will be on the line.

Projected lineups

GR=GPAC Rank; NR=National Rank

Concordia (8-7, 5-2)
125 – Jerry Stepps III (16-15); GR: 4
133 – Giovanni Castillo (8-3); GR: 1; NR: 3
141/149 – Cam Devers (23-7)
141/149 – Chris Kimball (13-15); GR: 4
157 – Jared Woods (16-14)
165 – Jon Lado (10-5); GR: 5
or Keanu Tom (5-9)
174 – Deandre Chery (21-13); GR: 1; NR: 17
or Walker Fisher (20-8); GR: 3
184/197 – Darrin Miller (20-15)
184184 – Josh Nelsen (22-12); GR: 3; NR: 18
285 – Michael Duffy (8-8)

Morningside (5-5, 5-2)
125 – Keegan Hessler; GR: 2; NR: 12
133 – Alexander Schmitz; GR: 5
141 – Maren Cahill
149 – Steven Garcia; GR: 1; NR: 4
157 – Kyle Fowler; GR: 6
165 – Nickolas Madsen; GR: 6
174 – Alexander Thompson
184 – Elijah Dirkx
197 – Caleb Deemer
285 – Phil Rasmussen; GR: 4