Upset of No. 14 Wayland Baptist highlights run at National Duals
DES MOINES, Iowa – The Concordia University wrestling program accepted an invite on short notice to participate in the 16-team NAIA bracket of the prestigious National Duals, held at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday. Despite having been added to the field less than 48 hours before the duals began, the Bulldogs (5-5) acquitted themselves well, going 1-2 while facing a trio of teams ranked in the top 15 nationally.
“We wrestled well,” second-year head coach Dana Vote said. “We proved that we can compete here in the premier event for wrestling other than the national championships. This was against the highest competition we can face and we proved we’re not far away.”
In its first match of the day, Concordia fell 31-6 to No. 8 Cumberland University (Tenn.). Dropping to the consolation bracket, the Bulldogs then defeated No. 14 Wayland Baptist University (Texas) 27-16. Finally, Vote’s squad was eliminated from the National Duals with a 38-12 evening loss to No. 9 Indiana Tech.
Going to work in the consolation bracket, the 25th-rated Bulldogs pulled off the upset of Wayland Baptist by recording three pins, including the team-leading 13th of the season from freshman Austin Fehlhafer (18-8) at 174. Fehlhafer needed 3:37 to take care of Michael Naiper, who is ranked 10th in the NAIA at 184 pounds.
Overall, it was another stellar day for the Seward native, who went 2-1 with two pins to push his season fall count to 14.
“He’s definitely not far from being an elite guy,” Vote said of Fehlhafer. “He’s not just beating guys, he’s beating them bad. He had a great day. He’s not 100 percent but he stepped for his teammates. He never complained. He just went out and competed.”
Austin Starkey (165) and Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197) also picked up falls over Wayland Baptist foes to allow the Bulldogs to build an insurmountable 27-13 advantage going into the heavyweight bout. Starkey pinned his opponent in just 1:24 while Burkhardt Jr. finished off Nik Gates in 1:49.
The two additional wins came at 125, where Concordia received the benefit of a forfeit, and at 149, where Enrique Barajas used a single escape to pull out a 1-0 decision over Victor Thomas.
While the final scores of the Bulldogs’ two losses look lopsided, there were several close calls and solid individual efforts on the part of Vote’s grapplers.
“We wrestled tough,” Vote said. “We’re just not quite at that level yet. We showed our youth again, but this was a good experience and a great opportunity.”
Concordia freshman Kodie Cole, ranked 16th at 133, dominated Dalton Baysinger of Cumberland, racking up better than five minutes of riding time before just missing out on a major decision. Cole improved to 10-7 at the time by picking up the 9-2 win.
In a battle of top 10 wrestlers at 149, Concordia’s 10th-ranked Enrique Barajas (11-9) hung tough with No. 4 Jake Williams, a former Bulldog. After a scoreless first period, Williams ultimately edged Barajas 4-2 with the help of a riding time advantage of just over a minute.
Concordia also came up just short at 174, 197 and 285, losing those three weights by a combined seven points to Cumberland. Freshmen Ken Burkhardt Jr. (197) and Austin Fehlhafer (174) both took on nationally-ranked foes and dropped decisions by two and three points, respectively.
Barajas completed his day on a positive note by sticking Indiana Tech’s Mitch Roadruck to the mat in 3:45 for one of the Bulldogs’ two wins versus the Warriors. Concordia came up just short at 125, 157 and 197. The setbacks at those three weights came by a combined five points (two losses by a single point).
Bulldogs to record two wins on the day included Barajas (2-1), Fehlhafer (2-1) and Dmitri Smith (2-1). Four Bulldogs had exactly one victory on Saturday.
Concordia will complete its home schedule next week as it hosts conference duals on Tuesday versus Doane (0-6, 0-1 GPAC) and on Thursday against No. 13 Morningside (3-6, 0-0 GPAC). Concordia is 1-1 this season in home duals having defeated NCAA Division III Buena Vista University and lost to then No. 18 York College.
11 January 2014