HASTINGS, Neb. – The Bulldogs got back on the mat Saturday at the Quality Hotel Open in Hastings, Neb., two days after a 30-12 GPAC-opening defeat to Briar Cliff. Concordia seniors Frank Ayala and Brandon Starkey headlined the day as Ayala placed third and Starkey fourth in an event that featured wrestlers from a variety of levels, including NCAA Division I.
Starkey capped the day with a record of 4-2, earning two sudden victories and a pin of Hastings’ Mike Ganny in 4:41 to get the third-place match. That’s where Starkey fell 13-6 to University of Nebraska-Kearney’s Colton Johnson. Starkey’s fourth-place finish marked his third tournament placement this season and the 12th in his solid Bulldog career.
At 285, Ayala took a 3-1 decision over Bethany’s (Kan.) Tyler Smith and pinned Buena Vista’s Gable Bonner in 2:56 to get to the third-place bout. The West Covina, Calif., native squared off with Smith again and recorded a sudden victory to notch his team-leading fourth tournament placement of the season.
Austin Starkey continued a fine freshman campaign by posting wins over competitors from Augustana and Arizona State as he finished the day at 2-2.
A total of eight Bulldogs competed on the day at the Quality Hotel Open with five wrestlers grabbing at least one victory. On the day Concordia grapplers totaled 11 victories, three by falls. Stepanek, Brandon Starkey and Ayala each recorded one pin apiece.
Three Concordia wrestlers are now tied for the team lead with 14 wins. Ayala (14-15), Brandon Starkey (14-10) and Stepanek (14-14) are deadlocked for that distinction.
The Bulldogs will host their second GPAC dual on Thursday, Jan. 17 when they welcome Northwestern to Seward. The action will begin at 7 p.m. inside Walz Arena and will be webcast live via the Concordia Sports Network.