SIOUX CITY, Iowa – A pair of pins and a pair of forfeits helped make Concordia wrestling a lopsided winner over Briar Cliff (1-3, 1-2 GPAC) in Sioux City, Iowa, on Wednesday night. Bulldog juniors Emilio Rivera (133) and Enrique Barajas (149) both dominated their opponents in leading the visitors to a 31-14 victory. Concordia improved to 4-3 overall by winning its conference opener.
“It’s nice to get that conference dual win over a quality team,” second-year head coach Dana Vote said. “It was our first competition since going to Vegas (Dec. 21) and we came out ready. We went through some hard training the past week or so and some of our guys really stood out.”
Barajas (9-8) and Rivera (14-6), both junior college transfers from California, were foremost among those standouts. Rivera polished off Shawn Miller in 4:29 while Barajas nailed Sonny Gulesian to the mat after 4:50 elapsed. The Bulldogs led 18-4 after Barajas’ pin.
“Those two guys have really been leaders,” Vote said. “We expect big points from them. They dominated tonight. They were out there looking for pins and kept working for it.”
Similarly impressive, freshman Ken Burkhardt Jr. carried over his strong outing at the Desert Duals and registered a 12-2 major decision over Briar Cliff’s Jake Baker. The victory pushed the Milford native above .500 on the season at 9-8.
“Ken’s really improving each day,” Vote said. “The last couple of weeks he’s really taken a turn. He just gets better every time out.”
Concordia’s other contested win came at 157 where Tommy Bailey eked out a 3-2 decision over Leland Slawson. It was the third-consecutive victory for Bailey, who hails from Hailey, Idaho.
Both Noel Richardson (184) and Ceron Francisco (285) came up just short in their respective matches. Richardson led most of the way before the Chargers’ Dan Harvey took control in the final period for a 6-2 victory. Francisco fell 5-3 to Brian Ervin in the final bout of the night with the team victory already well in hand.
Briar Cliff owns a conference victory over Doane (32-9) as well as a GPAC loss to then No. 9 Midland (24-18). Last season the Chargers defeated Concordia 30-12 in Seward.
Freshman Austin Fehlhafer (174), the team’s leader in wins and pins, did not wrestle on Wednesday. Senior Nick Sheppard earned a forfeit win at 174 for the Bulldogs. Fellow senior Alex Stepanek (141) also received credit for a forfeit victory.
The Bulldogs will return to action on Saturday at the Hastings College Open where 18 Concordia wrestlers will compete. The tournament will get started at 9 a.m. Next week Concordia will host a pair of GPAC duals – Tuesday and Thursday – against the likes of Doane and Morningside.