SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Hoping to rise near the top of the standings by the end of a pivotal day of GPAC Duals in Sioux City, Iowa, the Concordia University wrestling team came up one win shy of running the table on Saturday (Jan. 27) at Briar Cliff. The Bulldogs defeated Jamestown, 20-12, Doane, 30-9, and Hastings, 27-18, before falling to host Briar Cliff, 33-14.
Second-year head coach Andrew Nicola’s squad now sits at 7-7 overall and at 4-2 in conference dual action. Concordia sits just one win behind first place Briar Cliff (5-1) and Morningside (5-1). Saturday showed the Bulldogs remain a team to be reckoned with within the GPAC.
“We had a very solid day. The boys definitely battled tough,” Nicola said. “It was probably the best overall day team-wise, top to bottom, that we’ve had this season. Right now we’re in a position where we had three guys weigh in and then we bumped them up all day. The effort was pretty incredible.”
At the top of the lineup, Jerry Stepps III went a perfect 4-0. Stepps accounted for nearly 20 percent of the team’s 21 contested victories for the day. Stepps defeated a pair of wrestlers that were rated higher than him on the conference totem pole. One of his wins was a 17-16 barnburner over Jesse Barajas of Jamestown.
Following Stepps, six other Bulldogs earned at least two wins: Josh Nelsen (three), Deandre Chery (two), Giovanni Castillo (two), Cam Devers (two) and Michael Duffy (two). Walker Fisher, Chris Kimball, Keanu Tom and Jared Woods also chipped in with one win apiece.
That’s it for the month of January for Concordia. The Bulldogs will begin a new month by hosting Northwestern (8-4, 4-1 GPAC) at 7 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 1). Concordia also has the Morningside Open (Feb. 3) and a dual at Morningside (5-4, 5-1 GPAC) coming up on Feb. 8 prior to conference and national tournament action.
“We’re still right in the mix,” Nicola said. “I think we’re a better tournament than dual team, but what we did today puts us right in the mix to be competing in the GPAC.”