SEWARD, Neb. – It got ugly in a hurry – in a good way for the 20th-ranked Concordia University wrestling team. The Bulldogs hosted their home opening dual on Thursday night (Nov. 30) and treated fans inside Walz to a 55-0 blanking of visiting Dakota Wesleyan. The Bulldogs recorded five pins and one victory by major decision while opening up their defense of three-consecutive GPAC championships.
Second-year head coach Andrew Nicola’s squad had been idle since competing at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Open on Nov. 18. He couldn’t have asked for much more on Thursday. Concordia took full advantage of an opponent that had three open weights.
“The guys performed pretty dominant and very well,” Nicola said. “The plan is to work on positions. I don’t like losing any positions, let alone matches. If we get taken down or give up an escape that they didn’t earn – those are the things we have to get back to work on tomorrow.”
Sophomore Cam Devers began a wave of pins in a dual that began at 141 pounds. After a takedown and four near fall points, the native of Holly Springs, N.C., wiped out Brandon Scharmer in 1:44. It was simply a continuation of an impressive start to the season for Devers, who is now 9-1 overall. Ranked sixth in the GPAC at 141 pounds, Devers is out to prove himself.
“I just trusted my training and stayed confident,” Devers said. “I had to handle my business out there. I know if I go out there and do what I need to do, wrestle the way I need to wrestle, business I going to get handled. That’s the one thing I always tell myself before matches: just relax and go out there and handle business.”
Devers’ teammates followed suit. After eight bouts, Concordia led by the largest possible margin (48-0) thanks to five falls and three forfeits. During that stretch, the Tigers (0-2, 0-2 GPAC) failed to register even a measly escape. As a team, the Bulldogs outnumbered Dakota Wesleyan 15-2 in takedowns and 14-0 in near fall points on the evening.
Four pins in a row at 165, 174, 184 and 197 demoralized the Tigers. After 16th-ranked 165-pounder Jon Lado took care of Alex Osborne in 5:19, Walker Fisher (174), No. 9 Josh Nelsen (184) and No. 12 Alexander Reimers (197) each broke their opponents in the first period. Reimers needed only 1:19 to put away Nick Woslum.
The final two matches went the full seven minutes. At 125, Concordia’s Jerry Stepps III used eight takedowns and a reversal on his way to a 20-8 major decision over Seth Caro. In the following bout, 12th-ranked Giovanni Castillo found himself in a battle with Stas Sutera, rated sixth in the GPAC at 133 pounds. Castillo got taken down in the first period but battled back for a narrow 5-4 triumph.
The events that unfolded on Thursday were a welcome sight for a team that ran the gauntlet at three difficult tournaments that preceded the season’s first dual. The Bulldogs have now won each of their last 22 GPAC duals.
“Our first three weeks are grinder tournaments with a lot of NCAA Division I and II and very high level NAIA competition,” Nicola said. “We have a lot of guys with deceiving records. We have an incredibly talented team. We go to these tournaments for a reason and that’s to improve on these positions that we’re getting beat on. We just need to continue to train.”
A group of roughly 15 Bulldogs will return to action on Saturday for the Buena Vista University Open in Storm Lake, Iowa. The team’s fourth tournament of the season is set to get underway at 9 a.m. CT. Concordia will be back inside Walz Arena for a dual with Northwest Kansas Tech on Friday, Dec. 8.