FREMONT, Neb. – A layoff of 27 days failed to prevent a pair of Bulldogs from seizing individual titles at Saturday’s Viking-Warrior Open in Fremont, Neb. Senior 184-pounder Matt Atwood and junior 141-pounder Andrew Schulte went a combined 9-0 in representing the eighth-ranked Concordia University wrestling team with first-place finishes. Thirteen Bulldogs combined for a total of 20 wins at the tournament that included all eight GPAC squads.
Fourth-year head coach Dana Vote’s team had last competed at the Battle of the Rockies Open hosted by the University of Great Falls on Dec. 5.
“It was a tough tournament coming back from Christmas break,” Vote said. “We’re training more towards National Duals (Jan. 8-9). We trained pretty hard this week. We still wrestled well for the most part. Some of our leaders wrestled real well. Andrew Schulte won the tournament and looked solid doing it. Atwood looked great. He was pretty dominant in three of his four wins.”
Competing at 141 for the first time this season, Schulte ran his 2015-16 record to 21-6 with a five-pack of victories. The native of Corona, Calif., manhandled his first two opponents and capped his day by edging the University of Nebraska Kearney’s Bryce Shoemaker, who won the 133-pound NAIA national title in 2014. Eighth-ranked Schulte also earned a 3-1 decision over No. 16 Tyler Dickman of Baker University in the semifinals.
A key addition to Vote’s roster in 2015-16, Atwood (14-2) toppled a trio of foes from St. Cloud State University before pinning Dickinson State University’s Lane Oversen in the 184-pound title bout. Atwood also seized third place earlier this season at the Dakota Wesleyan University Open.
Fifth-ranked heavyweight Ceron Francisco joined Atwood and Schulte on the medal stand with a fourth-place finish. Francisco went 3-2 on his day on the way to his fifth tournament placement of the 2015-16 season. Francisco knocked off the University of Nebraska’s David Jensen to begin his Saturday.
Ten of the 13 Bulldogs notched at least one win. Junior Ken Burkhardt Jr. recorded two wins – both over NCAA Division II opponents.
Thanks to a 12th-place national championships finish in 2015, the Bulldogs earned an invite to next week’s National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals in Fort Wayne, Ind. The prestigious event will take place Friday and Saturday (Jan. 8-9) inside the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. For more information on the National Duals, click HERE.