CRETE, Neb. – This wasn’t quite the dominant win the Concordia University wrestling program has grown accustomed to, but in the end, the ninth-ranked Bulldogs found a way to extend their lengthy win streak. All-Americans Ken Burkhardt Jr. and Kodie Cole pinned their opponents as part of a 23-22 team victory at Doane on Friday evening.
First-year head coach Andrew Nicola’s squad has improved to 2-0 this season in conference duals. The Bulldogs have now won 16-consecutive duals against GPAC rivals.
“Doane wasn’t interested in just laying down,” Nicola said. “They’re obviously a very good team. We won this as a collective unit. It’s frustrating the way that it went down, but we won. We just need to do a better job of executing the small things.”
After Concordia heavyweight Alexander Reimers got pinned in the night’s final match, the dual came down to a tiebreaker (total match points) that went in the Bulldogs’ favor. Concordia survived after Josh Nelsen edged out 12th-ranked Kyle Hoffman, 2-1, at 184 and second-ranked 197-pounder Burkhardt Jr. pinned No. 12 Chandler Knight in 3:47.
In addition, Cole (ranked 10th at 133) took care of Jonathan Fletcher in 1:28 for his third pin of the season. Other Bulldog wins came from No. 12 Foster Bunce (major decision) at 149 and Dmitri Smith (decision) at 125.
Concordia had led 9-0 after the first two lightweight bouts of the night, but the Tigers came roaring back to take a 16-13 lead after Doane’s Zach Linton pulled out a 5-2 decision over Walker Fisher in the 174-pound tussle. Two matches later, Burkhardt Jr. surfaced with his 97th career victory. The native of Milford, Neb., is knocking on the door in regards to becoming the first wrestler in program history to rack up 100 career wins.
For a program that expects to win the GPAC, Friday’s dual serves as a wakeup call.
“We need to do better at very simple things like sticking to the game plan,” Nicola said. “We have to build off this. We won this dual because we had more match points, but we have to continue training with the philosophy that if there’s time on the clock, then there’s time to score. I’m not disappointed. I’m proud of the guys. Everyone’s anxious to get back to work.”
The Bulldogs returned to action on Saturday (Dec. 3) morning at the Buena Vista University Open in Storm Lake, Iowa. Concordia will make its 2016-17 home debut on Friday, Dec. 9 when Northwest Kansas Tech visits Walz Arena for a dual. The match is set to get started at 7 p.m. CT.