DES MOINES, Iowa – Senior Giovanni Castillo came within a hair of advancing to the 133-pound national title match. Instead, he settled for fifth place and became the ninth different Bulldog in Concordia University wrestling history to claim an All-American award. Castillo and teammates Deandre Chery and Chris Kimball each qualified for the 2018 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, which took place at the Jacobson Exhibition Center in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday and Saturday.
Second-year head coach Andrew Nicola’s three qualifiers combined for eight wins and 18 team points at the national championships. Concordia placed 22nd nationally.
Castillo, who hails from Ontario, Calif., worked his way into Saturday’s semifinal round after earning a trio of victories on Friday. His run included a victory over fifth-seeded Trevor Murano of Grand View (Iowa), 7-4. That triumph set up a clash with top-seeded and undefeated Jake Sinkovics of Cumberlands (Ky.), a four-time All-American. In the opening period, Castillo took Sinkovics down and quickly built a 6-0 lead thanks to four near fall points. He just couldn’t finish the deal. Sinkovics eventually took the lead and then pinned Castillo after 4:48 elapsed.
Castillo (15-6) then dropped his next match, 3-1, while up against 11th-seeded Robert Ozuna of York College. In the fifth-place bout, Castillo again defeated Murano, this time by a score of 3-1. For the fifth year in a row, the Bulldogs have had at least one All-American.
Kimball and Chery produced four and two team points, respectively. Before being eliminated on Friday, both grapplers collected their first career wins on the national stage. Kimball knocked off eighth-seeded Gaige Torres of Indiana Tech while Chery recorded a win over fifth-seeded Cody Carson of Missouri Valley.
During the 2017-18 season, Concordia placed fourth at the GPAC tournament championships following a fifth-place finish in the conference dual standings. Nicola led his team to dual records of 8-8 overall and 5-3 inside the GPAC. The program has placed inside the top 25 nationally four-straight years, including finishes of 15th in 2017, eighth in 2016 and 12th in 2015.
Concordia all-time All-Americans
Ken Burkhardt Jr. (2015, 2016, 2017)
Giovanni Castillo (2018)
Kodie Cole (2015, 2016)
Ceron Francisco (2015, ^2017)
Adam Joseph (2012)
Austin Mogg (2014)
Andrew Schulte (2015, *2016)
Julian Silva (2012)
Jacob Williams (2012)
*National champion | ^National runner up