Bulldog wrestling continues upward trend with arrival of junior college All-Americans

By on Oct. 10, 2014 in Wrestling

Bulldog wrestling continues upward trend with arrival of junior college All-Americans

By Jake Knabel, Director of Athletic Communications

It did not take long for head wrestling coach Dana Vote’s rebuilding efforts to come to fruition. In his second season leading the program, the Bulldogs soared all the way from sixth in 2012-13 into a tie for second in the GPAC dual standings in 2013-14. Concordia also vaulted from last in the North Qualifying Group all the way to second and sent six wrestlers to the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships.

While the program graduated All-American Austin Mogg (125), expectations are growing thanks to the return of five national qualifiers and a 19-member recruiting class (see entire class list at bottom) that includes a trio of 2014 junior college All-Americans in Eric Franklin (Tampa, Fla.), Jr Lule (Blythe, Calif.) and Andrew Schulte (Corona, Calif.).

“I am very satisfied with the class that we have brought in,” Vote said. “I feel that the power of our recruiting class is going to be led by the three junior college All-American transfers. We have also brought in a very talented group of wrestlers. I have high expectations once again this season and believe we will do great things with the class that is coming in.”

Lule, a runner up at the California Community College state championships, wrestled at Palomar College alongside current Bulldog and 2013-14 GPAC wrestler of the year Emilio Rivera. That connection paved the way for Lule to land at Concordia.

“I knew about this school because of Emilio,” Lule said. “That got me interested. He told me nothing but good things about Concordia. I wanted to come and at least know someone at the school I went to.”

At 149 pounds, Lule expects to make some noise immediately just as Rivera did last year in his first season wearing the Bulldog singlet.

“My goal is to be an NAIA national champ,” Lule said. “I don’t want to get anything below that. I feel like you have to set your goals as high as you can to achieve big things. I always set them as high as possible. Last year my goal was to be a junior college state champion. I ended up getting second. I didn’t reach my goal but I was happy to be in the finals.”

Schulte also claimed a runner-up finish at the California Community College state championships in his career at Santa Ana College in California. In addition, the 141-pounder qualified for the state tournament three times during a stellar high school run at Centennial.

A confident pitch made by Vote won Schulte over in the recruiting process.

“I asked Coach Vote, ‘why did you recruit me?’” Schulte said. “He said, ‘I just believe in you.’ So to me that was enough.”

Other than experiencing a little soreness, Schulte likes the way the first official week of practice is going.

“It’s always exciting,” Schulte said. “It’s the first week and it’s worn on my body a little bit. That’s all right. Coach Vote has a plan and I’m excited to be part of it.”

Franklin represents yet another junior college All-American in the 2014-15 recruiting class. The Richard Spoto High School product produced a second and a third place state finish as a prep. He then qualified twice for the NJCAA national championships while at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa.

Vote saw Franklin firsthand when the then Panther grappler upended a Concordia opponent at last year’s Buena Vista Open in Storm Lake, Iowa. After qualifying for the 2014 NJCAA championships but not reaching the medal stand, Franklin is determined to end his first season as a Bulldog with some hardware.

“I wasn’t doing the best I could (last year),” Franklin said. “Coach Vote has given me an opportunity to come back and win a title. I’m just hoping to bring it home this year and for the next years to come. I just want to win.”

Franklin, who figures to wrestle at 133, believes he’s found the right atmosphere to foster that winning mindset.

“School is going great,” Franklin said. “I’ve got great teachers. I’ve got great teammates. We’re pushing each other every day to be better. I feel like we all have great chances of winning something and helping the team do well. We’re ready.”

Vote has also welcomed another Ellsworth transfer in the form of DJ McIntyre, a native of Marrero, La., as well as a nice haul of 11 high school standouts. There’s local flavor with Seward High School alum Tanner Oborny, a four-time state championships place finisher, but plenty of states are represented among the recruiting class members. The 19 newcomers hail from a total of 11 different states. There are four apiece from California and Kansas and three from Nebraska.

2014-15 Concordia wrestling recruiting class

Jorge Alatorre | Green River, Wyo. | Green River HS/Western Wyoming CC
-Three-time state championships qualifier
-Sixth-place state championships finish
-2014 NJCAA national championships qualifier (197)

Tommy Andrews | Dodge City, Kan. | Dodge City HS/Neosho County CC
-State championships qualifier
-NuWay High School All-American
-Junior college academic All-American (National Wrestling Coaches’ Association)

Cooper Bailey | Hailey, Idaho | Wood River HS
-Second place state championships finish
-Five-time freestyle state champion
-Three-time conference champion
-All-conference: football and lacrosse

Matthew Casey | Santa Cruz, Calif. | Orange Lutheran HS
-Ranked in top 32 of the state during senior year
-Mater Dei Tournament champion

Brock Dalton | Springville, Utah | Springville HS/Western Wyoming CC
-Sixth-place state championships finish

Michael Duffy | Kennesaw, Neb. | Kennesaw HS
-Three-time Nebraska state championships qualifier
-Two-time state place finisher (second, fifth)

Eric Franklin | Tampa, Fla. | Richard Spoto HS/Ellsworth CC
-Two-time state place finisher (second, third)
-Two-time NJCAA national championships qualifier
-NJCAA All-American (seventh)

Warren Kropp | Scott City, Kan. | Scott City Community HS
-Two-time state place finisher (third, fifth)
-First team Kansas Wrestling Coaches’ Association Senior Academic Team
-Member of 321A state championship team (2012) and academic state championship team (2013)

Kolton Larsen | Lincoln, Neb. | Lincoln North Star HS
-Two-time state championships qualifier
-Lincoln North Star season and career record holder for near falls and takedowns
-Academic all-state two years in a row in football, baseball and wrestling

Ascary “JR” Lule | Blythe, Calif. | Palo Verde HS/Palomar College
-Runner up at California Community College state championships

Dortanyia “DJ” McIntyre | Marrero, La. | John Ehret HS/Ellsworth CC
-Two-time state championships place finisher (second, fifth)
-Louisiana Classic Champion
-NJCAA national qualifier

Christopher Moran | Sanger, Calif. | Sanger HS
-Recorded four pins at state championships in a combined 6:02
-State championships place finisher (sixth)

Tanner Oborny | Seward, Neb. | Seward HS
-Four-time state championships qualifier
-Four-time state championships place finisher (third, fourth, third, second)

Andrew Schulte | Corona, Calif. | Centennial HS/Santa Ana College
-Two-time Southern Section Master’s champion
-Three-time high school state championships qualifier
-Runner up at California Community College State Championships 

Jerry Stepps | St. Louis, Mo. | Hazelwood East HS
-Career 105-24 varsity record
-Two time state championships qualifier 

Tyler Swartz | Alta Vista, Kan. | Council Grove HS/Neosho County CC
-Two-time state championships qualifier
-Two-time NWCA Academic All-American at Neosho CC
-2014 NJCAA Academic All-American – Exemplary Honors 

Zachery Witt | Chapman, Kan. | Chapman HS
-Two-time first team all-league
-State championships qualifier 

Jared Woods | Durant, Okla. | Durant HS
-Two-time conference tournament place finisher (first, third)
-State championships place finisher (fourth)

Caleb Worral | Fargo, N.D. | Fargo North HS
-Three-time academic all-state
-Two-time state championships place finisher (seventh fourth)